It’s been a fantastic year for Hannah Harrison and Anika Varma, with the two golfers accomplishing so much in the game.
Harrison qualified for the U.S. Girls’ Junior and played in the U.S. Golf Association event in July at Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
She also represented First Tee – Greater Sacramento at the PURE Insurance Championship Impacting The First Tee. The PGA Tour Champions tournament, hosted by the Monterey Peninsula Foundation, was in September, at Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill Golf Course.
Varma won the California State Fair Women’s Golf Championship, a Sacramento Golf Council event, in September at Bartley Cavanaugh Golf Course.
She also tied for ninth at the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific Championship at Abu Dhabi Golf Club’s National Course in November.
There is much more.
Last month, Harrison and Varma each shot 1-over-par 72s, helping Granite Bay High School of Placer County win the 2021 CIF State Girls High School Championship at Poppy Hills Golf Course, located at Pebble Beach. It’s the Grizzlies’ first state title, and they won by a landslide – a 16-stroke margin.
“It was such a fun experience. It was really special to be able to share it with other people because golf is such an individual sport most of the time,” said Harrison. “It was really exciting to be able to share it with everyone on the team and all the families and players. It was also cool that we won by such a large margin. I think that it really showed that we came out there to play,” said Harrison.
Harrison and Varma also signed national letters of intent, Harrison with Washington State and Varma with the University of Oregon, as they will continue their golf careers at the major college level and in the Pac-12 Conference.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Jason Sitterud, Granite Bay’s head coach, and the Grizzlies’ Assistant Athletic Director. “I think for me, it validates what it takes to get to where they got to.
“I think we come across a lot of kids who say they want to play in college. They say they want to play Pac-12. They say they want to do these things, but they don’t really understand the commitment and work ethic that it takes. And so it’s nice, at least for myself, to be able to watch these girls over the last four years, and watch how hard they work and the hours you put in. This is what it takes. This is what you have to do, not only during school but in the summertime with travel and practice and the details.”
For the Sacramento region, it marks a banner year for high school and junior golf, with several players signing letters of intent.
Besides Harrison and Varma, other players will also be heading off to college programs in 2022 after signing letters of intent last month. They are:
- Zachery Pollo of Whitney High School-Rocklin, University of Arizona.
- Brady Siravo of Jesuit High School-Carmichael, Pepperdine University.
- Rylie Kosney of Sheldon High School-Sacramento, Dalton State College, Dalton, Georgia.
- Ethan Flynn, Truckee High School, Gonzaga University.
Additionally, Zachary Mate of Cosumnes Oaks High School-Elk Grove has committed to Sacramento State, according to a report by the Elk Grove Citizen, at www.egcitizen.com. Mate won the boy’s 16-18 division title at the State Fair Junior, shooting 67 in August at the Sacramento Golf Council event at the Alister MacKenzie Golf Course at the Haggin Oaks Golf Complex in Sacramento.
The signings put the Sacramento area on the map.
“There’s a nice little culture of junior golf in Sacramento that’s going on right now,” said Bobby Siravo,
a PGA Class A golf professional and the golf coach for the boy’s team at Jesuit, who has a teaching and club fitting facility, iFit Golf, in Rancho Cordova. “It’s pretty neat to be a part of and to see it all. These kids are competitive with one another, but very respectful at the same time. They’re encouraging and happy for one another when they see each other’s success.”
Siravo’s son, Brady Siravo, said:
“I think it just shows how playing around the best players pushes you to be better. A lot of good players. When you’re playing against these kids growing up and in junior events, from 8 to 10 years old and on, makes you get better. You see where you need to improve. And I think just the courses we have around here, they’re tough.
“There are relationships that you can build through junior golf.”
Harrison, a member of First Tee – Greater Sacramento, said:
“There’s a lot of good golfers in Sacramento. I’m really thankful to have been around that, through First Tee, just meeting a ton of good players and playing with good players. It’s really made an impact on my golf game and contributed to my successes in golf.”
A look at some of the players from the Sacramento area who will be playing for college programs in 2022:
Harrison, who plays out of Granite Bay Golf Club, is excited to continue her golf career in college when she joins the Washington State team. She signed her LOI last month.
“I’m excited to move on to the next level with my golf career. I really enjoyed the team atmosphere from high school golf, so I’m excited to have that same atmosphere in college. I’m just really looking forward to the whole college experience, getting better in college, and pursuing my golf game more.”
Harrison is looking forward to the competition and challenges that she will face – playing in tournaments, getting to play different courses, helping out the team.
“There’s going to be a lot of good girls on the team, so I think that as a team, we can lift each other and make each other better. I’m looking forward to that,” said Harrison.
Washington State announced Harrison’s signing in a report on its website on Nov. 17.
“Hannah is gritty and tenacious. She has a lot of experience playing in multiple levels of tournaments. She has played in a ton of California tournaments and a lot of USGA tournaments. She has an incredible short game and she is the first person to say that Pullman reminds her of a Hallmark movie. She really embodies what it means to be a Coug. She loves it here and we’re just excited to have her,” WSU head coach Kelli Kamimura said in the report at wsucougars.com.
“Hannah has a great personality. She asks really good questions, and she is determined in everything she does. She is going to add a lot to the team,” WSU assistant coach Emma White said. Harrison finished ninth at the California Women’s Championship at Ojai Valley Inn Golf Resort in June.
She placed in two American Junior Golf Association events this past summer:
- Seventh at the AJGA Junior at Palouse Ridge in July at Palouse Ridge Golf Club in Pullman, Washington.
- Sixth at the AJGA Junior at Peach Tree presented by Visit Yuba Sutter in July at Peach Tree Golf & Country Club in Marysville.
Harrison played with Steve Schneiter at the PURE Insurance Championship Impacting The First Tee. She said it was one of the greatest experiences of her life.
“It was so exciting to be able to play Pebble Beach and Spyglass and be with a pro. Just the whole atmosphere was super fun. They did a really good job of bringing everybody together and having different activities. And I think one of the best parts of it was just interacting with all the other players and making some new friends that I still keep in contact with. The whole experience was just so amazing,” she said.
Harrison finished third in the girls 16-18 division of the State Fair Junior, a Sacramento Golf Council event, in August. She shot 71 at the Haggin Oaks’ Alister MacKenzie Course.
The University of Oregon Athletics announced Varma’s signing on its website, goducks.com, on Nov. 17.
“We are very excited to welcome Anika to our Oregon family,” Oregon head coach Derek Radley said in the report, at goducks.com. “She has proven herself on the big stage for a long time and is extremely driven with big dreams. She comes from a wonderful and supportive family and we are thankful she chose to join ours.”
In 2019, Varma won the IMG Academy Junior World Florida Challenge. This year, she won the American Junior Golf Association’s Reno/Tahoe Junior at Toiyabe Golf Club in New Washoe City, Nev., in July.
She had second-place finishes at the California Junior Championship and West Coast Women’s Amateur.
Varma is looking forward to joining the Oregon team.
“I’m excited to get there. It’s a close-knit team and all of them are great players,” she said. “I have fallen in love with the university through talking about it and everything. It’s just really nice.”
There is so much work that Varma has put into her game over the years.
“Golf has always been a really big part of my life since I was really young. I’ve always tried my best to just put in the hard work. I know if I put in the work, I will get the results, eventually. And that just keeps me going,” she said.
“I love playing in tournaments and the thrill, adrenaline rush you get. It just makes golf so much more interesting for me.
“I just love the sport. I like to practice, and, of course, I like playing for the team. It really impacts my motivation, as I want to do well for my team and I want to get the best results so that I can help them be the best.”
Siravo is a former member of First Tee – Greater Sacramento and has played in both junior and amateur events. As a freshman, he played on Jesuit’s team that finished third at the CIF State Boys Championships at Poppy Hills.
Before he leaves town and goes off to college, Siravo would like to end his high school career on a good note.
“I’ve had a little bit of a break from tournaments over the last month or two, and I’m ready to get back into it. I’m chomping at the bit to play in tournament golf,” said Siravo, who plays out of Del Paso Country Club, Ancil Hoffman Golf Course in Carmichael, and Haggin Oaks Golf Complex.
“I enjoy tournament golf. It’s a lot of competition. This year we have a really good high school team.”
Siravo is also looking forward to playing college golf when he plays for Pepperdine.
“I’m very excited about the coaches, teammates, facilities, and tournament schedule. I can go on and on about all the positives of the school,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier. I can’t think of a better fit.
“I want to just gain more experience. Just getting better as a player is my overall goal and to just enjoy it. I think that’s when I play my best is when I’m enjoying golf. Not putting too much stress on myself.”
Siravo has gotten a lot of help and support in golf over the years from his dad, Bobby Siravo, who turned pro after playing college golf at San Jose State. Bobby Siravo spent three-plus years playing on the mini-tours and going to PGA Tour Q-School. He also caddied on the PGA Tour for two years and is Brady’s coach.
“He’s helped me tremendously. Whether it’s physical or mental, he’s always supported me, no matter what it is. Whatever problems I have, I go to him,” said Brady. “We know our boundaries, of what to push and where not to. I wouldn’t be anywhere without him.”
Brady Siravo had a very good summer of junior and amateur golf.
In June, he finished second in a U.S. Junior Amateur Qualifying, shooting 68 at Yolo Fliers Club in Woodland.
He advanced to the U.S. Junior Amateur, in July, at The Country Club of North Carolina (Dogwood), Village of Pinehurst, N.C., and The Country Club of North Carolina (Cardinal), Village of Pinehurst, N.C.
He tied for 41st and made the cut in stroke-play qualifying, shooting 74-72 – 146.
He lost his match in the Round of 64. Siravo tied for 20th in the 97th California State Fair Amateur Championship and shot 68-70-72 – 210 in September at the Alister MacKenzie Golf Course at Haggin Oaks.
He finished eighth in the AJGA FOX Sports Junior at Mission Viejo in June. Had had rounds of 74, 73, and 78 at Mission Viejo Country Club.
He qualified for the IMG Academy Junior World Golf Championships by finishing second with a 68 in June at Haggin Oaks’ MacKenzie Course.
Brady has a passion for the game and loves to compete, Bobby Siravo said.
“I’ve been in golf my whole life, so (Brady) was around it, but there was certainly never any push,” said Bobby, a member of the PGA of America. “He could have taken up a different sport – baseball, basketball, whatever it might have been, and had a lot of passion for it, and we would have supported that.
“He loves golf, loves to play, and loves to compete. From the time he started playing golf, he always wanted to play, enjoyed shooting a score, and trying to compete within himself. He always liked to play with kids that are older, just better players. He just loves to play and is passionate about playing the game.”
Brady started out playing tournament golf when he was 10. When he was 14, he began entering and playing in men’s amateur tournaments.
“He really got a taste of it, outside of the junior world. And he really took to that,” said Bobby. “He liked competing against older kids, players that were in college and your top-ranked amateur players. He kind of did that route.
“He’s kind of gone about it on his own path. It worked for our family to go about it this way and it turned out to be good for him.
“He plays with a lot of heart and competitiveness. He does it his way.”
The University of Arizona Athletics announced Pollo’s signing in a report on Nov. 10 on its website, arizonawildcats.com.
“Zach is a fearless competitor and has posted many great rounds, including record-setting scores,” head coach Jim Anderson said in the report, at arizonawildcats.com. “His length off the tee is a huge asset that makes him a player that will continue excelling as the level of competition rises. He has persevered through his growth, experienced setbacks followed by success in junior golf, which makes him prepared for the next climb as a college golfer.”
“As a Sacramento native, he comes from an area where current and former players have shared great success at the University of Arizona. Golf is a true passion for Zach, but he shares athleticism and enthusiasm for other sports.”
Pollo was the runner-up in the Junior Tour of Northern California’s points standings for the 2020-2021 season.
Pollo, who plays out of Catta Verdera Country Club in Lincoln and Whitney Oaks Golf Club in Rocklin, had two wins during the JTNC’s 2020-21 season.
He won the American Junior Golf Association Junior Open at The Bridges Presented by the City of Montrose in Colorado in August. He set an AJGA record with an 11-under-par 60 in the second round of the event at The Bridges Golf & Country Club.
Pollo is the recipient of the Morton Golf Foundation Junior Golf Development Grant. He has also played in First Tee — Greater Sacramento Junior Tour events.
Pollo tied for seventh in stroke-play qualifying, shooting 73-77 – 150, at the NCGA’s 118th annual Amateur Championship at Spyglass Hill Golf Course at Pebble Beach in August. He advanced to match play and lost in the Round of 32.
Kosney is a two-time All-Delta League player and advanced to the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament last spring.
Kosney is headed to Dalton State College, Dalton, Georgia.
Gonzaga University Athletics announced Flynn’s signing in a report on its website, gozags.com, on Nov. 13.
Flynn is an 18-time winner on the Truckee Tahoe Junior Golf Tour and played on Truckee High’s 2019 3A Nevada High School Championship team.
He was selected All-State during his sophomore season.
“We’re excited to have Ethan joining our program,” Gonzaga head coach Robert Gray said in the report, at gozags.com. “He’s a fantastic young man with a great family behind him. Ethan has high aspirations and is willing to put in the work to achieve his goals. His best is definitely yet to come.”
He tied for 35th at the 97th California State Fair Amateur.
He has made two appearances at the IMG Junior World.
He also reached sectional qualifying for this year’s U.S. Open.
* Marty James is a freelance writer who makes his home in Napa. He retired on June 4, 2019, after spending 40 years as a sports writer, sports editor, and executive sports editor for the Napa Valley Register, a daily newspaper in Napa County. He is a 1979 graduate of Sacramento State and a member of the California Golf Writers & Broadcasters Association. He was inducted into the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame in 2016.