Prior to becoming the new girls golf coach at Los Altos High, and before taking his current day job as operations manager of Deep Cliff Golf Course, Abe Roof worked as a historian in Canada.
Now he would like to make some history with the Eagles – one swing at a time.
“I want to build a program,” said Roof, who earned a doctorate in history from the University of Calgary. “I have big shoes to fill – the team has had success in the past – but they’re coming off a tough season.”
Los Altos finished near the bottom of the SCVAL De Anza Division last fall and the team’s top player, Caris Kim, has taken her talents to Princeton University. The rest of the players return, however, including junior Sophie Thai, the reigning SCVAL individual champion.
Another returnee had a hand in Roof’s hiring. Sophomore Grace Cai, a participant in the Deep Cliff Players Academy Juniors Golf Program, informed him of the opening.
“She told me that the coach had stepped down,” Roof said in reference to Rich Fujii. “I had been thinking about (coaching high school golf) for about a year, and the chance to coach one of my own students was extra exciting.”
Roof, who runs the Players Academy with Deep Cliff head pro Ethan Whittier, added that he also knew two other girls on the Los Altos team through this offseason program.
Roof interviewed for the job in February – meeting with athletic director Michelle Noeth, principal Wynne Satterwhite and a few players – and was hired in the spring.
“He is very personable, has knowledge of the game and we are looking forward to having him join our team,” Noeth said.
Roof’s first season at the helm was supposed to be well underway by now, but the COVID-19 pandemic changed that. Girls golf has been pushed to the spring, coinciding with the boys’ season, which poses challenges.
“We’ll need six tee times for both sports, and everybody realizes flexibility is going to be key,” said Roof, who recently received the league schedule. “It also looks like there will be fewer opportunities for alternates and JVs this season.”
At least finding tee times shouldn’t be a problem – Roof noted that he can always get the Eagles on Deep Cliff. He’s been the operations manager at the course in Cupertino for nearly six years.
Roof’s love of golf began long before that. He started playing the game 30 years ago at the age of 10.
“I took a long break to get my master’s degree and Ph.D. before I started playing regularly again,” the Campbell resident said. “But I hardly played this summer, because we’ve been so busy since reopening in May.”
For Roof, “golf is all about mental strength and confidence,” he said, and the coach tries to instill that in his players.
“I try to be very positive with them,” he said. “I want them to shake off a bad shot or a bad result. It’s all mental; you can live a life’s worth of emotions in 18 holes.”
Roof added that many players he’s worked with need to improve their short game, and a lack of confidence in it can impact their long game as well.
“If they’re insecure about their putting and chipping, they can get stressed and tight with their full swing,” he said.
Los Altos is scheduled to start practicing in mid-March, with the season slated to begin April 19.