By Stephani Bee
For the Daily Titan
After an absence of more than two decades, men’s and womenâ€™s golf has returned to Cal State Fullerton.
Thanks in large part to private donors, $2 million was raised in the effort to put Fullertonâ€™s golfers back on courses.
Athletic director Brian Quinn, who was not at Fullerton at the time that the golf program originally left Fullerton, thought that it was â€œprobably financial aidâ€ that forced its original demise.
Menâ€™s golf was last played at Fullerton during the 1987-88 season. Womenâ€™s golf had gone defunct prior to that, last gracing Fullerton in 1985-86.
The reinstatement of golf has brought the Titans up to 17 intercollegiate sports offered on campus.
Men’s golf Head Coach Jason Drotter was instrumental in helping the Titans return to the links. He had a hand in finding sponsorships, creating schedules and learning the ins and outs of NCAA policy to re-establish the golf program.
â€œI think putting the right team together was the biggest issue,â€ Drotter said in a phone interview. â€œWe also had to get a committee and committee chairmen. We have people in our program with the financial wherewithal and the generosity in their character to see this thing through.â€
Drotter, who played golf at Cal State Long Beach, serves as the director of golf at Fullerton. He coached both the boys’ and girls’ golf teams at Villa Park High School for six years.
There have been some noticeable differences since he began coaching at the collegiate level, some of which have added responsibilities that he was unaccustomed to at the high school level.
â€œAt the high school level, logistics plays a huge role,â€ Drotter said. â€œYou cannot recruit. If youâ€™re in an affluent area, you usually have a pretty good team, so itâ€™s your job to get them over the hurdle. You donâ€™t have quite as much freedom at the high school level.”
Drotter added that at the college level it is all about building a team and developing players.
â€œAt the college level, you assemble your own team; recruiting is a huge issue, fundraising is an issue; and cultivating good players into great players is really my responsibility,” Drotter said.
The menâ€™s golf team teed off their season in an Oct. 7 tournament against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo at the Firestone Grill College Invitational, finishing second in their debut, seven strokes behind Cal Poly.
Junior John San Juan led CSUF, holding a 54-hole total of 215 strokes.
Playing at the Bill Collum Invitational Tournament in Simi Valley Oct. 26 â€“ 27, the men’s golf team tied for eighth after three rounds of play. Totaling 884 strokes over the course of two days, the Titans matched scores with Cal State Bakersfield in a field of 17 teams.
Pacific emerged as the victor of the tournament, with 843 strokes, 21 under par. Nick Ellis highlighted the men’s team in the tournament, shooting an even par with 216 strokes. John San Juan was two strokes over par, with 218.
The womensâ€™ team has also had a jump-start on their season.
Led by Head Coach Pearl Sinn-Bonanni, a former U.S. Amateur Champion and a veteran to the LPGA tournaments who has participated in over 100 events, the Titans kicked off their season at the Payne Stewart Memorial Tournament on Sept. 21 and 22.
The womens’ team concluded their first tournament on the links, with highlights from freshmen Neomi Hunt and Micaela Guzman, who tied for 50th place overall in the tournament, holding scores of 244.
Overall, the womens’ team placed 14th out of 15 total teams, while the host of the tournament, Missouri State, won with a final score of 901. The Titans totaled 1,001 strokes.
In their most recent tournament, the Lamkin Grip Invitational, which was played at the Cypress Ridge Golf Course Nov. 1 and 2, the womenâ€™s golf team placed 11th.
It was the Titansâ€™ third tournament of the season, and they were led by Hunt, who finished with a team-best 153 strokes over two rounds.
As a team, Fullerton totaled 636 shots. Cal State Northridge won the tournament with 591 strokes.
Bonanni, working with a team of freshmen and first year players, is looking for the team to continue its performance each time out on the links.
â€œOur team is made up of mostly freshmen or first year players at CSUF, including myself,â€ Bonanni said. â€œI have set very realistic goals for our team. I would like to see our team be competitive in the conference and, more importantly, to improve at each event we play.â€
Both the mensâ€™ and womensâ€™ teams will compete on various public and private courses throughout of the season while competing in the Big West Conference.
Drotter holds high hopes for the future of golf at Fullerton, believing that it will have the staying power this time around.
â€œI think we are going to be successful. I think that we will be one of the elite programs in Orange County and Southern California,â€ Drotter said.