Men's Golf, Sports

LBSU a ‘no-brainer’ for new men’s golf coach

Like any new head coach would say, recently appointed Long Beach State men’s golf coach Ryan Ressa wants to build the program into a national contender.

But he wants to do it while making Long Beach the marquee travel destination for opponents.

Among Ressa’s priorities is to make the Del Walker Intercollegiate Golf Classic, which is played at the Virginia Country Club in Long Beach, the biggest event of the 49er season. Last year, LBSU’s headline event was the Battle at the Beach tournament at Newport Coast.

“The field at Battle at the Beach is awesome. People really enjoy it,” he said. “But I think we can bring that field to Long Beach and get those teams excited about coming to Long Beach and competing in front of our hometown fans. I want to bring the premier event to Long Beach.”

With former head coach Bill Poutre in just his second season at The Beach, Ressa didn’t envision a realistic opening for the position any time soon.

“The job was always very intriguing to me,” the 30-year-old said. “I can say it was in the back of my mind. … I didn’t think it would open up.”

Despite “very little” knowledge of the area, Ressa said the location of a school like LBSU has potential.

“I always thought that if you could get a school in Southern California, especially a public school,” he said, “you could really, really have a great team because there’s so many good players in California. And if you have a school like Long Beach — that’s in a great location, with great weather, great facilities, access to play year-round — I think you could really lure a lot of great players.

“It was a no-brainer for me when they offered me the job.”

2010-11 Roster
Philip Chian, sophomore
Raymond Ho, sophomore
Benjamin Lein, sophomore
Kevin Lim, sophomore
Austin Love, junior
Kevin Roy, junior
Alan Hung, freshman

While an assistant at Duke, Ressa said he blossomed and was able to expand his coaching skills at UCLA. It was at Westwood where Ressa “realized he was ready to go.” But he said every job is different and every situation needs its own structure to adjust to the team’s personnel.

“I didn’t want to rush into it, though, because that’s what you’ve heard from head coaches and I’ve talked to a lot of people in the business,” Ressa said. “You don’t need to rush into the first job you get an opportunity to work at. It needs to be the right situation. … This just happened to be the right place at the right time and it worked out great.”

Despite seeing the 49ers up close as a Bruins assistant at the Battle at the Beach tournament, Ressa didn’t come away with much of an impression on the roster.

“I’ve been honest with the players,” Ressa said. “I didn’t really know a whole lot about them and I still am learning about the players … but I’ve spoken to everybody. But as far as their skills and their talent, I didn’t know a whole lot … I can’t really go off anything from last year.

“I want to get a feel for who they are individually before I even start thinking about their golf game. We need to learn how to manage each guy individually. The unique thing about our sport — it is a team sport, but it’s not a team game. Each guy is going to be different.”

Ressa will go into the fall with sophomores Philip Chian, Raymond Ho, Benjamin Lein and Kevin Lim, as well as juniors Austin Love and Kevin Roy. LBSU’s top recruit, No. 1-ranked international prospect Chien Yao (Alan) Hung of Taiwan, will also be in the mix, but Ressa said he won’t compete until the spring.

The first-year head coach has, however, tracked their progress since being hired July 8.

“We’ve had some highlights this summer,” Ressa said. “Kevin Roy shot a 64 back east. Raymond Ho’s playing great every week he tees it up. … I’m really excited about what I’ve seen.”

Ho placed second at the third annual Industry Hills City Championship on July 25 at Babe Didrikson Zaharias golf course, finishing just three strokes behind the leader. During the three-day tournament, Ho shot 2-over-par 217 and set a course record with a 67 in the second round.

In the same event, Chian tied for sixth at 5-over 220 while Lein tied for 16th at 14-over.

For the future of the program, Ressa said he wants to focus on recruiting the top local golfers and expanding the roster to “about nine” players.
With just six players to manage during the fall, Ressa said he’s not rushing into finding an assistant coach.

“I told the people in charge here that I want to figure out all aspects of the program before I even decide if I need an assistant, what the role of the assistant is going to be and who that person might be,” he said. “We will definitely have an assistant moving forward, I just don’t know the timeframe.”

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