Pleasant Grove golfers place in annual CIF championship competition

More stories from Lilah Gonsalves



Making school history, the Pleasant Grove High girls’ golf team placed fourth in the annual California Interscholastic Federation State High School Championship. 

The tournament, which took place on Nov. 16 in San Gabriel, brought together the six best high school teams in the state, three from both the southern and northern regions. By finishing fourth with their total of 402 strokes, 24 strokes behind winner Santa Margarita, Pleasant Grove not only achieved the highest award ever given to the school’s golf program, but also made itself one of the most successful sports teams PG has ever fielded.

Coach Robert Rinaldi said he is thrilled about the success of this year’s team, especially given its victory over last year’s state champion, Granite Bay. The Eagles also had a stellar season leading up to the state tournament, winning the three Delta League tournaments, the Sac-Joaquin Section tournament and the Masters tournaments. They placed third in the NorCal tournament, which allowed them to advance to the state championship. 

“It was exciting, and these girls had set some pretty high goals, so they knew they were capable of winning some of these tournaments,” Rinaldi said. “I think they set some really lofty goals and worked super hard, so I don’t think they were surprised they won the tournaments, but it was still a great accomplishment and we beat some really great schools.” 

The furthest the golf team had ever advanced in the past was a 7th place finish in the 2021 NorCal tournament, making the success at the state level even more exciting for Rinaldi, who has coached the team for five years. 

Sophomore team member Sophie Cook shared a similar enthusiasm for the team’s performance this year. As it was only her second year of playing golf, advancing so far was an even bigger accomplishment for her. 

 “There were a lot of really good schools, but it was super fun competing with the best in the state,” Cook said. 

Like Rinaldi, Cook also said the smaller tournaments and goals the team completed along the way to the state competition were just as important. She cited the results of the section and masters tournaments as a “boost of confidence.” 

But the main contributor to the Eagles’ outstanding season this year was arguably their work ethic. The 17 golfers have been training as a team Monday through Thursday since mid-August at the Rancho Murieta Country Club. That doesn’t include the time they put in individually. 

“They really put a lot into their golf, not just for our team, but on their own,“ Rinaldi said. “On the weekends and summer and year-round, they’re practicing and playing tournaments.”

As for the team training, senior Hannah Camara has played a crucial role in driving the environment. This year was her fourth on the team and second as captain, and she has learned how to effectively communicate with Rinaldi about what kind of support the team needs.

“Her role was mostly kind of a go-between between myself as the coach and the players,” Rinaldi said. “She and I talked about certain strategies or ideas for practice and how the team was responding.”

Camara also expressed the enjoyment she’s felt from fulfilling the role, as she was able to connect with her teammates and make the most out of her last year before hopefully going on to compete in college. 

“My favorite part of the team (is) the relationships that I’ve formed with everyone,” Camara said. “I love that we are all really close and share the same passion for golf and the desire to improve.” 

Cook agreed that a lot of what made this season special wasn’t just the team’s success, but the relationships and experiences shared by the girls. She said her favorite part of being on the team was “getting to play with people who enjoy the same sport as I do and making lots of friends.”

It was a special year for the Eagles in more ways than one, and Rinaldi recognized it. 

“They were obviously talented, but I think it was their work ethic,” Rinaldi said. “It was really neat to see 17 young ladies just putting so much into something and then getting the pay-off in the end.”