For Jackie Torres, starting golf at age 10 represented something more than just playing a sport—it was an opportunity to bond further with her dad John—the Gilroy High golf coach—every time they took the course together. After all, there is no other sport in which competitors can talk to each other on a leisurely stroll in between shots and engage in deep conversations at the same time.
“I did a couple of other sports growing up, but they didn’t compare to golf because of the bond I had with my dad while playing the sport,” said Torres, who recently graduated from Gilroy High with a 4.0 GPA and is set to attend and play at Whittier College in the fall. “My dad started me on golf eight years ago and it really stuck.”
Jackie Torres led the Mustangs to a spot in the Central Coast Section tournament, where they finished fifth out of six teams. She shot a 93 at Laguna Seca, five shots off her personal best at that course. Sami Fuhrman (105), Mia Lopez (111), Ashlyn Torres (120) and Mia Shlapfer (137) rounded out the team’s scoring.
Sophia Farrington was also a member of the team, but wasn’t able to make the tournament. Jackie Torres said her senior season was special because she got to play with her younger sister Ashlyn.
“That was my highlight, having my sister on the team and going to CCS,” she said.
The Mustangs went 8-2 this season, sharing the Gilroy and Gavilan golf courses with Christopher and Live Oak. John Torres’ mission is to get more kids in the area involved in the game at an earlier age. Typically, he and other high school coaches in the South County and San Benito County region will get athletes with little or no prior experience playing golf upon entering high school.
To that end, John has created the nonprofit Coyote Valley Golf Club that will act as a feeder and developmental program so by the time they get to high school, they would be “a little more educated and skilled at playing golf,” John said. Jackie was a model of consistency all season, shooting a low score of 42 for her best nine-hole round while exemplifying strong leadership skills.
“Jackie epitomizes what it means to be a student-athlete,” John said. “She was the first to practice, the last to leave and was always trying to help her teammates. Jackie got to mentor them and I think it will pay off in the long run because some of our returners next season like Mia and Ashlyn want to follow in her footsteps.”
John was most proud of Jackie for helping to instill in the girls a love for the game.
“Jackie brought in girls who didn’t necessarily want to play and they started to enjoy the game,” John said. “The girls had fun and they improved. That’s all you can ask for.”
Three to four months ago, Jackie drove down to Whittier College to meet its golf coach and talk about the possibility of playing for the program.
“He basically said they were really excited to work with me because they have a small team of six girls and that he sees a lot of potential in my future,” Jackie said. “It’s exciting because there will be a tournament within the first month of school starting. …It’s always been a dream of mine to play golf in college, but I never thought it would come true, especially with Covid and how it’s been the past few years.”
Jackie said the strongest part of her game is her approach shots, especially off her favorite club, the 7-iron. She’ll remember her four years at GHS as a period of growth and developing deep relationships.
“There were a lot of friendships that were made and some great memories formed with my teammates on the golf course,” she said.