This 2016 golf season, Saddleback College has a new weapon in the armory, new head coach, Wayne “The Drain” Westling. Coach Westling will be succeeding former head coaches Steve Crapo and Mark McElroy. Last year’s team finished with the record of 15-40, placing fourth in the Orange Empire Conference Championship. Westling previously coached at Aliso Niguel High School for 24 seasons as well as lead the surf team to three state championships.
The team has fallen short for the past eight years, burying the past league winning streak as well as state placers with former head coach Bill Cunerty. Often times, blame falls on the heads of the program, but Westling said otherwise.
“It’s the players, not the coaches. But, a coach can make sure a lot of good players want to come to their school as well as motivate a winning attitude,” Westling said.
Westling’s views for the upcoming season puts the team in the top of the OEC division, as well as playing in the state tournament.
“We’ve been working hard … we are getting ready,” Westling said.
Not only is Westling raising the bar, but also the members of the team predict state tournament potentials.
Troy Ditzler, member of the golf team, predicts their team to finish fairly well as the season goes on.
“I’m really looking forward to playing alongside with my friends, get low scores on my card, and hopefully make it to state,” Ditzier said. “We are really focusing on fixing our mistakes on the course, leading to lower scores. In the end, the score on the card matters.”
Teammate Alex Diaz, a transfer from Orange Coast College, had a similar opinion.
“We have a shot at state, I mean, we have a really good team,” Diaz said.
Diaz played on the Dana Hills High School team, opposing Westling at meets.
“I got a call from Westling first semester saying he would be coaching at Saddleback, so I transferred, knowing he’s a good coach already,” Diaz said.
Diaz looks forward to watching his short game improve as the season rolls out as well as achieve his goal to make it to state.
Diaz is not the only one already acquainted with Westling as Saddleback golfer Nick Prudhomme played under Westling in high school.
“He’s a great coach. He doesn’t get on you if you mess up. He’ll encourage you and really promotes you to do your best,” Prudhomme said.
Prudhomme, one of the top five scoring golfers at Saddleback, recognizes the talent on the team to the extent of maybe even winning the state championships. Saddleback has suffered a dry streak, not finishing in the top of the division since 2008.
“It’s coming back, we are looking really good this year,” said Prudhomme.
Sophomore Calvin Jones hopes to be one of the top golfers at some point this season.
“I have been working really hard and made some improvements to my game. I want a chance to play in a tournament this season to show what I have to offer this team,” said Jones.
With an all-star roster, two transfers from other colleges, including the University of Arizona, and brand new coach, Saddleback looks to have a successful season.