Sparrer working his way to the top

Brad Sparrer, a sophomore at San Benito High, earned the biggest victory of his career when he won the boys first flight division of the Junior Tour of Northern California Holiday Series III championship on Dec. 30.

A year ago, Brad Sparrer was the No. 5 player in the lineup on San Benito High’s golf team.
But entering the 2015 season—practice starts on Feb. 1—the 5-foot-8, 140-pound sophomore will likely be the Haybalers’ No. 1 player. Sparrer’s meteoric rise came the good old-fashioned way: hard work.
Sparrer, 15, dedicated his off-season to golf, playing over a dozen tournaments since the 2014 season ended while spending countless hours honing his game at the driving ranges at San Juan Oaks and Poppy Hills.
Sparrer’s hard work paid off when he won the boys’ first flight championship division of the Junior Golf Tour of Northern California Holiday Series III Championship on Dec. 30.
“It was the biggest tournament I’ve ever played in, and I was really having fun on the golf course, which is a real success for me,” said Sparrer, who finished with an excellent score of 10-over 153 over the two-day, 36-hole tournament at the Del Monte and Poppy Hills golf courses. “I’m glad I kept my composure, and it’s good to know all the hard work is paying off.”
Indeed, it’s no accident Sparrer has developed into a bona-fide player on the high school golf scene. Like all of the top junior players, Sparrer lives, eats and breathes golf.
Balers coach Reggie Synegal has plenty of anecdotes describing Sparrer’s indefatigable work ethic, but one memory stands out.
“Last season I cancelled a practice because it was an absolute downpour,” Synegal said. “But I go out to the range (at San Juan Oaks) and he’s out there with Ryan Han practicing in the rain. It was unbelievable.”
Han, a 2014 San Benito High graduate, earned a full-ride scholarship to play golf at UC Davis, and has been instrumental in Sparrer’s development. Last year, Han worked with Sparrer on his mental and physical game.
“Ryan has taken me under his wing and has been a great friend as well,” Sparrer said. “I’ve learned a lot of things from Ryan, and I caddied for him a couple of times over the summer. It was a great experience because I could simply focus and concentrate on watching him and how he managed his way around the golf course. It was quite special.”
Sparrer’s quick ascent up the golfing ranks is all the more remarkable considering he didn’t start playing golf year-round until two years ago. Growing up Sparrer played basketball and baseball, with the latter being his No. 1 sport.
However, Sparrer made a critical decision two years ago to play golf full-time and give up baseball.
“I just saw how much fun my dad (Max) and his friends were having playing golf, and it had a positive effect on me,” said Sparrer, who also credited Synegal and his son, Marcus, an assistant golf professional at Poppy Hills, for helping him with his game.
“I love the sport so much now. I have golf on the TV everyday, and I love watching the pros and see how they grind out holes and turn negatives into positives. It’s really great when they’re in press conferences and they tell stories on how they grew up practicing everyday.”
When reached for this story, Sparrer was actually—you guessed it—on the golf course playing with a large group of his friends and his dad’s friends. Perhaps more important than Sparrer winning the Holiday Series III Championship is he had fun doing it in the process.
Sparrer plays and practices with machine-like focus, and sometimes his intensity—just like the pros—can be ratcheted up to the point where it can hurt one’s game, not benefit it.
“Days like this make you realize it’s just a game and you’re supposed to have fun,” Sparrer said. “There’s a fine line between being intense and too intense.”
Sparrer had everything working on Dec. 30, finishing with a final round 4-over 76 at Del Monte Golf Course to defeat co-runner-ups Michael Wang and William Liu by two shots.
On his final hole, Sparrer missed a six-foot birdie putt after hitting a nice drive and sticking his 7-iron shot on the green.
“If I lost by a stroke, I would’ve probably gone to the putting green and hit 1,000 of those same putts,” he said.
Sparrer was in the second-to-last group, so when he made his par putt, he didn’t know where he stood. It was only after the final group came into the clubhouse when Sparrer was able to celebrate.
“I was just waiting around and thought I was going to get second or third place, but not first,” he said. “I was more shocked than anything, and was looking around and thinking to myself, ‘Is this real?’ I played pretty good I guess.”
No kidding. Sparrer had one birdie and five bogeys on the 6,365-yard, par-72, Del Monte course. He entered the day two strokes behind the leader, but wound up playing one of the most consistent rounds of his career to earn the victory.
Synegal wasn’t surprised with the result, considering he’s had a first-hand view on Sparrer’s insatiable appetite to improve.
“We’re all excited to see what Brad has done in the off-season,” Synegal said. “I wish I had 15 to 20 Brads on the team. He’s very polite and well-mannered, and dedicated to the game. He reminds me of Ryan in that no one works harder than Brad.”
Sparrer is accurate off the tee, but he excels in the short game. Marcus Synegal has worked with Sparrer to get his short game dialed in, and it’s paid off on the course. Sparrer said he planned on playing in three or four more tournaments before the start of the high school season.
It’s no wonder Sparrer has high hopes for the upcoming season, including a goal of winning the Monterey Bay League championship.
“If I stay consistent, I believe I can do it,” Sparrer said.
You can bet others believe in his game, too.

Leave your comments