WATSONVILLE — Watsonville High School’s Alumni Golf Tournament is heading into its 11th year, and, like the school’s mascot, it is doing so with a fierce roar.
Tournament Director Brad Hubbard said the tournament will have more than 100 golfers play Spring Hills Golf Course in Watsonville today.
The goal, Hubbard said, was to get 144.
“But breaking 100 is really good for us,” said Hubbard, the school’s former longtime athletic director. “Getting 144 would’ve been a busy time, but a fun time. It’s still a win-win for everyone.”
Lunch and registration for the tournament starts at 11:30 a.m. Action gets going at 1 p.m.
Watsonville Athletic Director Marcus Northcutt said day-of registration is welcomed.
It is $125 for entry, which includes access to a golf cart, a bag lunch and a dinner following the tournament at 5:30 p.m.
The tournament is one of many fundraisers for the school’s athletics program. The money raised from this year’s tournament, Hubbard said, will likely go toward making improvements on the school’s athletic fields, primarily the softball and baseball diamonds.
“This tournament helps us get jump-started for the following year,” Hubbard said. “It takes a little bit of the pressure off.”
Hubbard said the tournament struggled in its early years, but has started to make steady growth since moving over to Spring Hills four years ago. A year ago the tournament had 93 golfers, and the year before roughly 70 participated.
Having Anthony Gallino, Brett Meyers and Jess Sida help gather sponsorships has also given the tournament a boost, according to Hubbard, who also thanked the community for spreading the word through multiple avenues.
“It feels like the tournament’s first year was four years ago. The tournament has taken on a whole new feel over the last few years,” Hubbard said. “We’re starting to get all the alumni that we were missing in the past. That’s what it’s all about, getting people to contribute back to their school.”
The tournament this year is dedicated to Peggy Ernst and Karen Wildman. Ernst help found the Watsonville High School Foundation and served as the president and treasurer. Wildman, meanwhile, was the booster club president and treasurer for many years.
The two join previous honorees Don Melton and Donna Jean Busmire.
Hubbard said the honorees “always had the right priorities and provided clear direction in supporting a broad range of programs and interests.”
“Their dedicated efforts greatly improved and enhanced the educational and athletic experience of the Wildcatz athletes and made a positive and significant difference in their lives,” Hubbard said.
Spring Hills tournament coordinator Bobby Powers said golfers can expect a tough but fun time and plenty of sun at the wide-open course off of Casserly Road.
“On paper, it might look like an easy course, but it’s a little different when you get out there,” said Powers, who added that hole No. 18, which features a long drive downhill over water toward the clubhouse, is their signature hole.
Powers said Spring Hills has tried to become a resource for the local golfing community over the years. They house three high school teams — Watsonville High, Monte Vista Christian and St. Francis High — during the school year and will also welcome in their first middle school team next school year.
“That’s big for us,” Powers said. “We need to grow the game in this community and it starts with the young people.”
An Aptos High School alumnus, Powers said he has not been able to play in the tournament over the last four years because of the whirlwind of tasks that need to be done to make sure things run smoothly. He has, however, enjoyed the tournament as a spectator.
“I love seeing tournaments, especially tournaments like this where you can see them grow year after year,” Powers said. “The people running this tournament have really worked hard to make this thing a success.”