Veteran boys’ golf team optimistic for season 

March 18, 2024 — by Ruiyan Zhu
Courtesy of Renn Blanco
Nicholas Okada gets ready to putt
Eleven of 12 players on the team are returning members. They scored a win on their first game of the season against Cupertino High School. 

Head Coaches: David Gragnola

Last year’s record: 3-8-1

Recap: Due to a lack of experience and practice from players last season, boys’ golf performed below their expectations. The team also lacked strong players.

Key Matchups: Palo Alto, Los Gatos 

Star Players: Aidan Smith (11), Nicholas Okada (11), Oliver Pott (11)

Key losses to graduation: Howard Shu, Cameron Sy, Sunny Aswani 

Division: De Anza


The Falcons captured a victory against Lynbrook High School 199-224 at Los Lagos Golf Course on March 14. As of when this article was written, their record is 3-0, winning against Lynbrook High School, Gunn High School and Cupertino High School. 

For the team’s individual rankings, Aidan Smith is ranked No. 1, Nicholas Okada is ranked No. 2 and Oliver Pott is ranked No. 3. 

Senior Ryan Lin said that the team won because of their consistent practice.

“Our chipping and putting was good, and my contact was pure with the ball when putting,” Lin said.

This early season saw more boys than usual attend tryouts: 24 showed up, compared to last year where only 16  competed to be on the 12-person team. 

“A lot of them were senior players who were just trying for fun,”  junior Nicholas Okada said. “Most of them just wanted to explore a new sport.”

Okada added that most new players were unable to make the cut. Out of the 12 that did make it, only one was a freshman: Mars Ching, ranked No. 12 on the team. Senior Jarek Loo, ranked No. 11 on the team, also joined as his first year. The others are all returning players.

Coached by David Gragnola, who also coaches girls’ golf, the team practices Mondays through Thursdays at the Saratoga Country Club. Players use the driving range to improve muscle memory and the course to work on course management and accuracy. For team bonding, students sometimes play together on the weekends and eat at Chipotle after practice.

Okada is optimistic about this season, as he believes this year’s team is stronger than last season’s; all players but two are returning. He said the team has been practicing and improved from last season as well, and he feels pressure to do well for the team this season. 

“Outside of the regular season, we have individual tournaments where we’re just by ourselves, but for school matches we need the team to win,” Okada said. “Your score actually matters for everyone.”

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