Jim Collins made quite a splash in his first year as head coach of the Dublin High boys golf team.
Collins, the well-respected PGA Pro and general manager of the San Ramon Golf Club, helped the Gaels advance to the Northern California tournament for the first time.
Dublin, which won a fourth consecutive Diablo Foothill Athletic League title, qualified for the NorCal tournament with a second-place finish at the North Coast Section Tournament of Champions at Castlewood Country Club.
The Gaels capped the season with a respectable sixth place at the NorCal tournament at Butte Creek Country Club in Chico with a five-player score of 386. Five Gaels broke 80: Steven Sunwoo Choi (75), Jacob Solomon and William Choi (both 77), Joe Furtado (78) and Taylor Bromley (79).
Dublin appeared to have a great success formula -- a gifted coach and a talented squad that bought into his system.
"He's a great dude," said Furtado, the DFAL MVP, of Collins. "He spends time with us, makes sure we're doing everything right. If we have any questions or anything he helps us out, no matter what."
Collins is quick to credit former Dublin head coach Chris Meredith, now the Gaels' girls golf coach, with building the boys program. Collins was Meredith's assistant, or his ace in the hole, for the three previous seasons.
"Chris and I worked really well together," Collins said. "Chris is a great mentor of kids, so you have one guy that's a really good
Meredith thinks highly of Collins' coaching ability and his generosity.
"He's just a real quality individual," Meredith said. "He's a giver. He really gives back to the community, the school community, the golfing community, with no expectations in return. His heart is in the right place all the time. He's also a genius golf instructor."
Collins, whose son Ryan played golf at San Jose State, helped launch of the new NCPGA Junior Golf Tour. He was selected as one of the country's top 50 kids' teachers in 2011 by U.S. Kids Golf Foundation. His extensive resume includes time as an assistant varsity basketball coach at Bishop O'Dowd, and a junior varsity basketball assistant at Dublin.
So the Gaels' golfers were in good hands.
Collins admits that he doesn't really work on the players' swing techniques during the season because so many kids have private coaches these days.
"We worked a lot on the short game," he said.
To build on his squad's golfing talent, he initiated a Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) in which the Gaels worked twice a week with a certified instructor, Tony Carrera. Collins believes the TPI training bolstered the Gaels' fitness and mental toughness.
Moreover, the Gaels didn't just show up for matches and start hitting shots. They were prepared.
"We looked at every course that we were going to play, and we had a course management game plan for every match and every tournament," Collins said.
No wonder they were so tough to beat.