Michelle Hernandez is no stranger to Half Moon Bay’s golf scene. The Half Moon Bay High School senior has played on the girls golf team all four years through a program set up by the Boys and Girls Club of the Coastside before she enrolled in seventh grade.
Hernandez is one of the most experienced players currently enrolled and one of two girls currently on the high school’s varsity team. She sees herself as a teacher showing the up-and-comers how the program works and what to expect. Apart from the outdoor exercise, Hernandez recognizes that golf can be a part of her life for a long time and provide some opportunities and a community.
“I can use this sport until I get really old,” the high school senior said. “It can open a lot of doors for me.”
The program has continued to grow. On Monday, she was one of 10 girls playing nine holes at the Half Moon Bay Golf Links Old Course. Now midway through the club’s eight-week fall session, this was a special day for the girls — a break from the driving, chipping and putting drills.
As they made their way through Ocean Colony on a severely foggy afternoon, the high school’s girls golf coach Aaron Paulino taught six less-experienced girls the basic fundamentals. Once a week they practice hand placement, how to follow through on their swing and read greens, and myriad other subtleties that come with the sport.
“Stay low enough to where you don’t brush the grass,” Paulino said to the girls as they warmed up their swings.
The club’s fall session began Aug. 24 and runs until Oct. 26 at the Golf Links. The club had a previous session that began in June. This particular group ranges from sixth-graders just beginning to learn the fundamentals to seniors nailing the nuances in their final year of high school.
Founded by Boys and Girls Club President Virginia Perry in 2014, the program garnered enough participation and support that the members of the first few classes, including Hernandez, helped make girls golf a sanctioned sport at Half Moon Bay High School in 2017. Playing is free for the girls through a series of grants obtained by the club to pay for tee times, uniforms, and equipment if necessary.
“It’s going really well,” Perry said. “The girls are really excited.”
Because of the pandemic, the girls and coaches wear masks and do their best to stay apart from one another. Like nearly all organized sports in 2020, players undergo daily temperature checks and health questionnaires. The precautions are worth it for the girls at the Half Moon Bay Golf Links.
“It’s nice to get outside and have some social time with my friends,” Hernandez said. “We’re not going to school, so it’s nice to see other people and just have fun.”