All-Empire Boys Golf: Montgomery’s Rogers took to links at young age

By TED SILLANPAA
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Montgomery junior Nick Rogers (Beth Schlanker / The Press Democrat)

Montgomery junior Nick Rogers (Beth Schlanker / The Press Democrat)

Joel Rogers took his triplets out to hit golf balls at the driving range, just for fun, when they were 3 or 4 years old. The result is that the selection of the All-Empire Boys Golfer of the Year was a no-brainer.

“That first time we went out and hit balls, I hit them farther than my sister and brother,” said Montgomery High star Nick Rogers, who also was player of the year as a sophomore. “So my dad started taking me out to hit more often.”

The junior shot a 65 and was a medalist in the North Coast Section Tournament of Champions after winning the North Bay League crown a week earlier. In between, he won a Northern California Golf Association event unrelated to his play in school events. He reached the CIF Northern California Championship and, for those accomplishments, he stands above his peers.

Rogers didn’t exactly go from banging balls with sister Jackie and brother Bobby on the driving range to stardom.

“My first golf lessons were when I was 6 or 7,” Nick Rogers said. “I started playing in tournaments when I was 8 years old.”

Joel and Vicki Rogers aren’t golfers, but they realized they had one on their hands in son Nick.

“My parents were really supportive and helped me get into golf more seriously,” the Empire player of the year said. “My brother’s on the golf team now and my parents have learned more about the game. So I can talk about golf at home. My dad knows more about it.”

Rogers shot seven birdies at Rooster Run in the section TOC to advance to the state tournament at Diablo Grande in Patterson. Neither was the highlight of his season.

“Winning the league was the biggest thing for me,” he said. “Our coach, Jess Stimack, worked really hard and got our team ready.

“He did a great job. I’m more relaxed playing with the school team. I know all the players and don’t feel the pressure I feel when I’m playing in a tournament on my own.”

Rogers has a simple approach to playing the game.

“I focus on playing the course, not the other players,” he said. “I just want to go every time and shoot a low score.”

Rogers struggled in the CIF event — and he knows why.

“I played a tournament two days before when I could’ve gone down and played the (Patterson) course,” he said. “I hadn’t played the course before. So, looking back, I should’ve done that instead of entering a tournament. I got to walk the course (at Diablo Grande), but I wish I’d played it first.”

Rogers, who was the only Empire player to advance to the CIF event, admits that the burden of winning player of the year honors as a sophomore gets heavy.

“Sometimes I feel that,” he said. “I try to use the pressure to motivate me to shoot a better score.”

You can reach Ted Sillanpaa at ted.sillanpaa@pressdemocrat.com. Read Sillanpaa’s Overtime blog at overtime.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.

ALL-EMPIRE BOYS GOLF

PLAYER OF YEAR
Nick Rogers, Montgomery, junior

COACH OF YEAR
Jess Stimack, Montgomery

FIRST TEAM
Max Ringrose, Analy, freshman
Scott Mitchell, Cardinal Newman, freshman
Javier Torres, Ukiah, senior
Aaron Walker, Santa Rosa, senior
Luke McLaughlin, Montgomery, junior

SECOND TEAM
Clayton Ferris, Analy, senior
Michael Danielski, Maria Carrillo, sophomore
Sean Berardi, Petaluma, senior
Casey Hackett, El Molino, junior
Connor Jeffries, Windsor, senior

THIRD TEAM
Evan Knight, St. Vincent, senior
Kousuke Tominaga, Montgomery, junior
Cristian Ballard, Sonoma Valley, junior
Alex Wood, Healdsburg, senior
Ryan Garfield, Casa Grande, junior

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