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When Santa Rosa Junior College golfer Ron Myers stepped up to the tee for the first shot of the season back in February, it was dead quiet. But that’s not so unusual. After all, it’s golf, and etiquette calls for players to hold a respectful silence when someone else hits.

But for Myers, it was a little too quiet. And he was a little nervous, so his natural impulse was to break the tension a bit.

“It’s my first shot ever playing,” he remembered. “So I said, ‘I bet you are wondering what this old man is going to do. I’m wondering the same thing.’”

Silence.

“Nobody even chuckled,” he said.

Welcome to college golf, “old man.”

At 63, even beyond his penchant for friendly banter on the course, Myers stands out in college golf. He is the oldest freshman around by a fair bit. But at No. 4 on the Bear Cubs’ roster, he’s more than holding his own.

“At the beginning, he was kind of like an odd duck,” longtime Bear Cubs golf coach Dave Herrington said.

On a tiny roster with six freshmen and just one sophomore, Myers looks a little different from his teammates. But early on, Herrington said the questions had more to do with Myers’ skill than his age.

“It was, ‘How good is he? Why was he here?’” he said. “Now they think it’s great, they really do.”

It probably didn’t hurt that Myers has been a solid contributor and played steady all season long.

“He still has a chance to make it individually to go to NorCals,” Herrington said. “He’s got four tournaments to do it.”

Myers knows competition. He understands what it takes in the home stretch of a season. After playing baseball for the JC from 1972-74 and at Fresno State two years after, he spent 22 seasons as the Bear Cubs’ head baseball coach and was inducted into the California Community College Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2005.

Myers was also interim athletic director at the JC for four years and dean and athletic director for two.

So, in addition to being the oldest guy Herrington has ever coached, he’s also his former boss.

“I remember, maybe 21 years ago, I had a player who was 50, 52 and I had a hard time with that,” Herrington said. “Then here comes Ron. I struggled knowing, maybe, he was my boss, he was AD, he does know coaching. I thought maybe he would judge me.”

Instead, Myers supports Herrington. But he can’t totally shed his coach’s mentality. So sometimes he toggles between teammate and coach on the course and in the clubhouse.

“I strongly support them,” he said of his teammates who are four decades his junior. “But I probably give my opinion more in certain things that they might not think are that important. I pay attention to the details. You don’t come to the tournament with your shoes muddy, or show up late. Those are things you don’t do in sports. Or shouldn’t do.”

But Myers likes it light. Remember the tee-off story? He likes a little banter on the course. After decades of playing weekend golf with his buddies, that might be the hardest part of the college game to wrap his head around.

“I like to throw a few jabs to see if they can compete under pressure,” he said. “If I drive it by them and I know the kid, I say, ‘You are going to let me outdrive you?’”

Truth be told, Myers doesn’t typically outdrive the young ones. He estimates a good drive for him is around 270 yards. Other guys will go 30 yards longer and take totally different lines because of it.

But his short game is good and getting better. That’s why he’s out there.

“As an ex-athlete, you go, ‘You know, I’m not that bad at golf. I’m not great, but I’m not bad,’” he said. “I wanted to see how good I could get.

“It was a chance to compete. It was a little higher level of competition. The main one was to see if I could improve my game. That’s hard to do at my age, I have found that out.”

“Scoring-wise … it’s been more difficult than I expected,” he said.

Myers knows himself well enough to adjust his routine a little beyond what his teammates do.

He recalled a recent round that was delayed because of foul weather. After a long van ride, Myers struggled with the quick warmup when play started.

“You are playing cold. That doesn’t work with someone my age,” he said. “I start warming up an hour and a half before the match. It’s crazy. I stretch. I take my time putting and chipping.

“It’s a process. It’s at least an hour and a half.”

But whatever Myers is doing, whatever adjustments he has to make, it’s working. You can’t hide in golf. If his score isn’t good enough, he doesn’t play. But Myers has made the cut all season long.

“He’s a good player. He really is,” Herrington said.

And Myers is loving it. He’d better — he’s committed enough to take a 12-unit class load in order to be eligible to play.

“The one thing I would say is these guys have been great,” he said of his teammates. “They could have hung out with themselves, but they are so nice to me and include me in everything. That part has been unbelievable.”

And at this point in the season, Myers is often requested as a playing partner from other schools. He’s gone from getting the stink eye for his banter to being sought after.

“If the other guy’s shot is good, I’ll give him a fist or high-five. I think I’m more encouraging,” he said. “Maybe I’m a relic. It’s a little different playing with me.”

You can reach staff columnist Kerry Benefield at 707-526-8671 or kerry.benefield@pressdemocrat.com, on Twitter @benefield and on Instagram at kerry.benefield. Podcasting on iTunes and SoundCloud, “Overtime with Kerry Benefield.”

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