Fairways, greens, sand, rough, snack bars—they can maneuver with relative ease.
The Camarillo High boys’ golf team is 14-1 overall and 5-1 in the Pacific View League following an upset loss to Rio Mesa on Tuesday.
Maybe Camarillo’s first defeat was a blessing in disguise.
“It’s a wake-up call,” ACHS head coach Bill Dowden said. “We need to always focus and concentrate. We can learn from the loss and try and do better.”
The Scorpions jolt foes with arguably the most talented trio of any Ventura County school.
Johnny Ruiz, Bryce Haynes and Joe Ahn have enjoyed solid junior seasons.
Ruiz, who was two strokes away from reaching the individual state tournament as a sophomore, is a dangerous striker.
“Johnny should be on the PGA Tour,” said sophomore teammate Evan Abell after Wednesday’s practice.
Ruiz grew up playing baseball and football before picking up golf in the seventh grade. He played football for ACHS last season.
The junior focuses on his short game and hitting the ball straight to keep it in play on the fairways.
“ I’ve been shooting good scores lately,” said Ruiz, who recently posted a 66 during a comeback team win against Dos Pueblos at Glen Annie Golf Club in Santa Barbara.
“I want to keep it up.”
Dowden praised Ruiz’s work ethic, adding that the Scorpion can play Division I college golf.
This season, Ruiz wants Camarillo to win a third straight league crown and advance deeper in the postseason. Reaching state as an individual is on his radar.
“I feel good about my game,” he said. “I like my chances. I need to keep working hard.”
Haynes is a beast with a club in his paws.
The junior has always been dangerous on the greens—he thrives in the short game—and he’s steadily improving his driver and iron shots.
He fondly recalled getting his first set of plastic clubs at age 3 and “swinging around the backyard.”
Haynes also grew up with basketball, but golf won out with time.
“After a while I realized I loved golf, and I stuck with it,” Haynes said. “It’s a sport I can enjoy the rest of my life.”
Haynes is hitting the ball with more power, Dowden said.
“He’s just bombing the ball,” the coach said.
The 17-year-old’s grateful for being an integral part of Camarillo’s success.
“This is an enjoyable team,” said Haynes, who has a 3.6 grade-point average and shot a 66 against Newbury Park at Spanish Hills Country Club. “It’s fun day in and day out.
“Our top three is pretty strong. It’s an honor to be considered among the best three players on one team in the area. But it’s a lot of pressure. People are looking at you to see how you shoot. I enjoy the pressure—it makes you focus each round.”
Ahn has also played golf for most of his life. He also finds ways to make practice fun.
“I don’t like practicing,” he admitted.
The trio make friendly wagers at practice. They’ll make small “bets” over a golf ball or a Coca- Cola to bring out those competitive juices, Ahn said.
Ahn, who won the Glendora Invitational in March, works on putting and staying mentally tough.
“If I’m not playing well, I’ll try to calm myself down and tell myself, ‘There are still a couple holes left,’” he said.
Justin Bennett’s the senior leader in the crew.
Good luck trying to find an athlete like Bennett in Ventura County.
In addition to four years of golf, Bennett also wrestled for Camarillo. Bennett, who has trained in judo for six years, helped the Scorpion wrestling team win a Pacific View title this winter.
He entered the school year at 230 pounds. He lost 45 pounds before wrestling season and is a lean, mean, swinging machine.
“I came in good shape for both sports,” Bennett said.
The senior said he enjoys playing with Ruiz, Haynes and Ahn.
“ They all play so well it helps everyone out,” said Bennett, who shot a season-best 74 against Newbury Park at Camarillo Springs Golf Course.
“They shoot so well that it makes everyone have to play better to keep up.”
Adrian Sun, Ethan Weilbacher, Ameer Bahhur and Abell add depth for the Scorpions.
Bahhur is recovering from a broken wrist.
Sun, a junior, appreciates the serenity of golf.
“Golf is more of a gentlemen’s sport,” said Sun, who takes five Advanced Placement courses and has a 4.2 GPA. “It’s like playing a sport in nature.”
Born in Ohio, Sun lived in China for 12 years before moving to Camarillo in the seventh grade. He hopes to study business management at Notre Dame and start his own business after college.
“We have a really awesome team,” Sun said. “Cam rules!”
Weilbacher, a sophomore, said the team makes its biggest strides between matches.
“Practice is huge,” said Weilbacher, an honors student with a 4.2 GPA. “We always benefit more practicing as a team than individually. . . .
“It’s a lot of fun to be part of such a strong team.”
Abell enjoys team bonding at dinner after matches. The sophomore celebrates victories by wolfing down tuna melt sandwiches at Cronies Sports Grill.
Teamwork is what Camarillo’s all about.
“Golf is an individual sport,” Haynes said. “It’s tough to translate to a team.
“But if you have people you enjoy being around, you could stick us anywhere and I’ll be happy playing with them.”