The rapid rise of popularity in golf has rubbed off on students at Las Positas and a team is wanted by many. The potential of a golf team being added to the school has been widely supported by students and staff over the years.
The sport in general has seen more than a 2 percent increase in total participants (24.8 million) nationwide since 2020. Youth is taking over what has always been known as the “old man’s sport” in recent years with forty-four percent of golfers in 2020 being under the age of 40.
Neither a men’s nor women’s team has been present on campus in its 59 year history despite the near perfect fit. Las Positas has readily available golf courses in close proximity with eager students that have been starving for a team.
The Las Positas golf class has been present on campus since 2015 and remains the only option for student golfers to get involved with the game of golf. It is not currently active as a club and is only offered as an elective class that can be added in the fall, spring and summer.
The golf class is run by current Kinesiology Professor Paul Sapsford who has a strong background in the sport of golf. Sapsford has been involved in the game of golf for over 30 years which includes representing St. Mary’s University in London, England in the 90s and later becoming president of the golf club there. He currently holds his United States Golf Teachers Federation associate professional teaching status that was earned in 2017.
Sapsford has been teaching the golf class for seven years by providing on sight video critiques of his student’s golf swings.
“It is perhaps my most enjoyable class that I teach and we regularly get almost too many students,” said Sapsford.
The class has grown in numbers over the years from what used to consist of 15 to 20 students to now having a total of 35 participants. These participants range in age, experience and origin. International students, parents and young golfers participate in the hour and a half sessions held at the Las Positas Golf Course driving range.
Sapsford has been pushing for a golf team at Las Positas for many years and is an advocate for a team being established due to the potential opportunities it presents for the diverse group of students he has worked with.
“I believe golf is a sport where a lot of business contacts and relationships are built,” said Sapsford. “I often work with students at Las Positas who are from less affluent backgrounds, so if we can provide an avenue for them to continue to play golf which could help them in future business relationships, that is a win-win.”
The majority of his students that participate in the golf club have shown promising signs in terms of overall skill.
“There’s a couple ladies in the class right now who would definitely make the team if we had a ladies golf team,” said Sapsford.
Many of the students favored the idea of a golf team for men or women on campus. They have mentioned how fun the class has been and what it has provided them as well as what a team would do for the college.
“As an adult student, I’d love to have more sports teams to participate in and having a golf team would push LPC to the next level as a community college. It would provide students with more opportunities to show their talents in golf and feel more involved,” said golf student Stefanie S.
“Golf helps relieve anxiety, stress and depression,” said golf student Vennie Tam. “Golf is similar to other team sports as far as competition and being able to meet new friends. It can also help students grow and continue to play even at an older age.”
Bringing a team to campus would require a strong financial commitment by the college.
Las Positas Athletic Director James Giacomazzi shared some insight on how LPC evaluates student and community demand for sports teams.
“We would ask ourselves what would be the impact? Are we offering something that the community wants? And if so we have to look at that hard,” said Giacomazzi. “If there is a demand we try to meet that demand, if we have the facilities to do so.”
Las Positas water polo went through a similar process when being added to the campus. It started out as a club and eventually became an intercollegiate sport after the evaluation of student interest, proper facilities, accessible coaches and funding was completed.
One of the main ways that student interest is measured is through polls on the athletics website that ask incoming and current students what sports they are interested in. These polls get the ball rolling with regards to high demand for a particular sport and can lead to the beginning stages and consideration for expansion of athletics.
The closest team that has existed in proximity to Las Positas was the Chabot College men’s golf team that ended its final season in 2018 with a roster of 13. The team competed competitively in the California Community College Athletic Association’s Big-8 Conference.
The Big-8 conference still remains and includes the nearby Diablo Valley College golf team.