Bruce Jaffe reached out to Mountain View High hoping to land one coaching job, and a few weeks later he had two. The Palo Alto resident is the new head coach of the Spartans’ boys and girls golf teams that will play in the spring.
“I can’t wait to start,” Jaffe said. “I’m happy the athletic director chose me to lead these two teams.”
After spending two years as an assistant coach for the boys and girls teams at Menlo School, Jaffe said he was interested in becoming a head coach and started searching for vacancies over the summer. A call to Mountain View athletic director Shelley Smith – who just so happened to be in need of coaches for both teams – led to Jaffe’s hiring just two weeks after his Sept. 1 interview.
“He’s very knowledgeable, has played golf for a long time and is a really good guy,” Smith said. “He’s very familiar with the game and coaching.”
Staying active in retirement
Along with coaching at Menlo, Jaffe has worked part-time at Baylands Golf Links in Palo Alto since retiring from his job as a financial adviser a few years ago. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Jaffe said he left Baylands due to concerns over working indoors at the pro shop.
He has since returned to Baylands, only this time as a coach for the First Tee youth program. Jaffe got his start in coaching with First Tee more than 10 years ago when his son Jack joined.
Jack – who developed into a standout golfer at Gunn High – plans to help his dad coach the Spartans, serving as a volunteer assistant when time allows. Jack was the assistant boys golf coach at Sacred Heart Prep in 2019 after graduating from Santa Clara University.
“He’s a scratch golfer and a great technical golf teacher,” Jaffe said.
Unlike his son, Jaffe never played golf competitively. However, he has plenty of rounds under his belt.
From player to coach
Jaffe took up the game at age 10 – first playing with his parents while growing up in Minneapolis – and he tries to get in a round or two each week.
“I’ve been a golfer for a half-century,” he said. “I love it.”
But only in recent years did Jaffe realize he enjoyed teaching the game just as much.
“I never thought of it as a vocation until I retired,” he said. “Working at Baylands got me playing more, and I saw high school kids and the Menlo College team play there and I thought coaching was something I would like to try, so I jumped in.”
He started out at Menlo School, working under a colleague from Baylands hired as the head coach two years ago. The Knights’ boys team went 10-2 in the West Bay Athletic League and made the Central Coast Section tournament in Jaffe’s first year. The 2020 squad had its season canceled early on due to the pandemic.
“That was so tough,” Jaffe said. “They were a great group of boys and a really talented team.”
Balancing both jobs
Girls golf is typically played in the fall, but not this school year. The season has been moved to the spring with the boys because of the coronavirus, which means Jaffe will be coaching two teams at once.
At least they won’t be playing at the same time during the league season.
“One coach can do both,” he said, “because they play (matches) every other week. The boys play one week and the girls play the next, so they’re not taking up too much real estate on a course in any given week.”
Both Mountain View teams will practice and play their home matches at Shoreline Golf Links. If all goes as planned, Jaffe said tryouts will be held in February and the season will tee off in March.
“I expect the kids to be practicing on their own before then,” he said. “If you want to play for Mountain View, you better be ready to go.”
While Jaffe added that he would like both teams to be successful, he’s not consumed with league titles and CCS berths. Just having a season during a pandemic is a victory.
“I want to make it as relaxing and fun as possible – especially this year,” he said. “These young men and ladies are stressed out being cooped up in the house so much. ... We’ll do our best to win, of course, but not at the cost of happiness and relaxation.”