As he anxiously awaits his family’s arrival from Montana, Tyler Martin has found solace in his new job as coach of the St. Francis High boys golf team.
“It’s brutal being so far from my family,” said the St. Francis graduate, whose wife, 11-month-old son and two stepchildren plan to relocate to the area at the end of the school year. “Being away from them, this is what I look forward to in my week. It’s the highlight of my week.”
Martin attributes that to the 14 student-athletes he gets to work with almost every weekday afternoon.
“They’re a great group of kids,” he said. “It’s a blast coaching them. I’m really enjoying it.”
Martin – who recently moved from Whitefish, Mont., back to his native Los Altos to work with his dad as a golf sales rep – spent the last 10 years as a PGA teaching pro. He also served as an assistant golf coach at Whitefish High for three seasons.
When he heard that Matt Maguire had stepped down as St. Francis golf coach to take an administrative position at the school, Martin contacted athletic director Mike Pilawski about the job opening. The two knew each other; Pilawski helped coach the golf team when Martin played there.
“I thought I’d give it a whirl,” said Martin, Class of 2001 at St. Francis. “I’m glad I did – it’s been a lot of fun.”
Well, except when the Lancers lose.
“I didn’t think I’d get that upset when we lose, but I get fired up,” Martin said. “It eats at me. I’m very passionate about this.”
He didn’t have much to get upset about until last week. That’s when St. Francis – after an 8-2 start in the West Catholic Athletic League – dropped from second to third place with a pair of losses and a tie. The Lancers tied St. Ignatius 199-all April 10, fell 196-186 to Mitty the next day and lost 194-174 to league rival Bellarmine Thursday.
The results took St. Francis out of the running for the WCAL’s regular-season title, but the coach still expects his team to make the Central Coast Section regional playoffs.
“I think the top three in league will get in for sure,” Martin said. “The top two get in automatically, and because our league is so strong, we usually get a few at-large bids.”
There’s still a way for St. Francis to avoid leaving its fate to the CCS Golf Committee, which will choose the six at-large qualifiers.
“If we win the league tournament, then it’s not a problem,” Martin said. “We’re in.”
Although undefeated Mitty is favored to win the WCAL tourney, set for May 2 at Eagle Ridge Golf Course in Gilroy, Martin gives his team a shot.
“I definitely think that when we play our best, we’re really good,” he said. “We’ve only reached our full potential once.”
That was March 28 at Palo Alto Hills Golf & Country Club, where the Lancers shot even par to beat St. Ignatius 180-201. Several players excelled, according to Martin, who starts five underclassmen.
The lone senior starter, Jeremy Villafuerte, “is playing awesome,” the coach said. Villafuerte won last month’s De La Salle Invitational with a 6-under-par 65.
His value to the team transcends his performance in matches.
“Jeremy’s a good team leader who helps the other seniors get better,” Martin said. “He’s a big help to me at practice.”
Villafuerte and junior Tyson Dinsmore have been the team’s top-scoring golfers this season. Dinsmore, a junior, has verbally committed to Southern Methodist University.
“He’s a consistent player,” Martin said. “He usually shoots 1 or 2 under, or 1 or 2 over at worse.”
The coach has five other players competing for the four remaining spots in the starting lineup: juniors Moibhi Tyndall, Easton Doyle and Jake Turley; and sophomores Matt Adams and Andrew Hiebert.
“Andrew and Matt are young and feisty,” Martin said. “They’re eager to move up the roster and play in the postseason.”
With so many promising underclassmen, the coach believes the Lancers’ future is bright.
“There’s a lot of potential,” Martin said. “We’ll be pretty strong next year.”
Not that he’s looking past the rest of this season.
“I see the potential to go to NorCals for sure,” the coach said. “But we’ll need to play well in the CCS regionals and finals to get there.”
St. Francis, on spring break this week, is set to play in the Aptos Tournament 10 a.m. Monday at Seascape Golf Club.