ST. MONICA — Golf is the kind of sport that usually takes years to perfect. Aside from Tiger Woods and his ilk, most players take decades to develop a competitive edge.

Such isn’t the case for St. Monica Catholic High School’s boys’ golf team, which appears to be experiencing a bit of a youth movement. The team’s record, 1-5 on the season and 1-1 in Camino Real League play, has been so-so at best, but it’s the promise of the team’s young players that has Head Coach Rimal Patel excited about the future.

“The freshmen have turned out for every single match, ready to play,” Patel said. “They are leading the pack.”

Freshmen Krishna Shegran and Paul Fischer showed some of that promise during the league opener last week. Shegran finished five over par after nine holes, Fischer came in seven over. A strong round put in by junior Nick Corben also factored in to the 15 shot rout of league rival St. Bernard.

“Some people have been posting great scores now and then,” Fischer said. “I’m proud of the way some of these guys are playing.”

The result of the team’s second league game against league power La Salle may not have been a victory, but the eight stroke loss to such a dominant squad gave Patel reason to think his guys may be able to compete for a playoff spot, which is awarded to the two top teams in the league.

“(The result of the La Salle game) is pretty impressive,” Patel said, “with us being a small private school without a huge budget.”

Before the Mariners get a second shot at La Salle, the team will use the rest of spring break to prepare to take on Bishop Montgomery April 20 on the road.

Patel said that he expects Bishop Montgomery to battle his Mariners for the second spot in league and sees the upcoming matchup as an opportunity to distance themselves from the pack.

He said that continued strong play by his underclassmen will be needed if his team is to secure a spot in the postseason. He added that this particular group of young men is easy to coach.

“To tell the truth, it is a lot easier with them being younger,” Patel said of his eight-man squad that features just one senior. “They just entered school and they don’t have as much pressure (as the older players).”

He said that older players often have to miss practice time due to academic demands, which can interfere with a player’s development.

Freshman Fischer praised his coach’s efforts to improve his skills and added that his scores have been improving steadily since the beginning of the season.

While he’s been averaging five over par most of the season, Fischer isn’t satisfied.

“My scores have been pretty good, but I wish I could score better,” he said. “I work for that.”

daniela@smdp.com