By the time Sam Mendoza took his first-ever lesson in the sport, he was already a Woodland Conference golf champion.
The Greenfield High School sophomore learned his craft the old fashioned way — simply going out and playing.
“When I was 2, someone in my family bought me metal clubs instead of the little plastic ones that they give to kids, and I guess it just took off from there,” Mendoza said after securing his second straight Woodland Conference regular-season title. “I watched the Golf Channel and watched the pros and thought I’d try it for myself.”
Greenfield's boys golf team won the Woodland East mini meet at Brown Deer on May 11, carding 182, and wrapped up a regular-season sweep of the six league mini matches. Mendoza carded 40 for medalist honors, netting his second straight Woodland Player of the Year plaudit.
Not bad for a guy whose first lesson with a golf pro came last summer prior to the start of his sophomore year.
“The scores are about the same, but my swing feels a little bit better,” Mendoza said of the current season. “The team as a whole could perform the same as last year, or potentially even better.”
Mendoza’s natural ability was honed in his backyard and on par-3 courses with his father and his father’s friends. After leading his team last year, he hit a speed bump in the sectional at Brighton Dale in Kansasville when he withdrew from his round.
“During the second hole, I started noticing some stomach pains,” Mendoza said. “At first, I thought it was just cramps but it got worse and worse to the point where the coaches told me, ‘You have to stop, man.’”
This year will thus be a chance for Mendoza to break through to the state meet for the first time. The Hustlin’ Hawks play the sectional at Oakwood Park, a course already twice on Greenfield’s schedule this year. Greenfield began its Woodland Conference year-end meet May 15, with the regional May 23 at Brown Deer and the sectional May 30.
Mendoza was one of three first-team All Conference selections from Greenfield on the East Division team.
“I’m proud of it and I felt like that’s where I should be,” Mendoza said. “I feel like I’m good enough to do that. I just have to continue to be consistent and keep improving little by little.”
Kyle Jablonski also earned first-team All Conference and finished second in the individual standings, and Zech Broyles was also first team and the No. 5 player in the final standings.
Danny Palmer was named second-team All Conference.
At Whitnall Park on May 9, Tyler Whitt earned medalist honors with a round of 41. Whitt missed two mini meets and wasn’t eligible for All-Conference honors but still played a key role for the Hawks this season. Last year, he was two strokes away from earning a playoff for the final individual state-qualifying berth at the sectional.
Hale, Central strong at Currie
West Allis Hale and West Allis Central both carded season-best scores in Greater Metro Conference mini meets May 10, though the teams still took seventh and eighth at Currie Park.
Hale’s 188 was its best score by 10 strokes. Ryan Petoskey shot 42, Joey Genow 46 and Danny Tabaska 47. Central’s 201 was its best by five strokes, with Jake Perry (47) and Kurt Mlachnik (49) leading the way.