The COVID-19 pandemic eliminated the opportunity for Danton Indelicato to finally conquer The Reserve at Spanos Park.
It also hurt his chances to play at the next level, at least for now.
Ripon Christian's ace golfer isn't letting the current situation keep him down, however. He is grateful for what he has accomplished while using any setbacks as motivation.
But it would have been nice to get the better of that course in North Stockton notorious for its brutal winds. The Reserve is the site of the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Championships, where the best of the best from the Sacramento area down to Merced converge for spots in the California Interscholastic Federation NorCal Regional.
Indelicato got to compete at the SJS Masters three consecutive years, carding a 91 as a freshman, a 94 as a sophomore and an 89 as a junior. Those scores are not reflective of his abilities — last year, he finished 3-under-par 69 at Diablo Grande to nail down his second straight Southern Athletic League MVP award.
“This year, I was really going to make a push for NorCal,” Indelicato said. “I have a bad track record at Spanos, for some reason. It's one of those courses where, windy or not, I do not seem to play well. I've never shot in the 70s there. I don't know what it is about me and that course.
“I actually played there quite a bit in the offseason and shot in the 70s several times, but I wanted to do it in this tournament. Even if everybody moved on (to NorCal) shooting 65, if I shot in the mid-70s I would have been thrilled. I just always had five strokes in my mind before I teed off on that course, I felt like. This was a big thing for me, so I out in a lot of work between the two seasons.”
Indelicato did get to achieve both team and individual success in three years. The Knights three-peated in the SAL and claimed two SJS Division VI Tournament championships. In 2018, Indelicato reached Masters individually, as his 74 score was good for medalist honors in the divisional tourney.
Last season, it became a familiar affair for Indelicato — his mom, Citrea, took over as head coach, while younger brother Camdan joined as a freshman.
“It was fun,” Danton said. “My mom definitely knows what to say and is always there for tournaments. If I'm having a bad day, she's there to boost my morale. It's like the ultimate coach — she's not just a golf coach, but a life coach.”
As for Camdan, the sibling rivalry certainly spills over onto the golf course. While they do get along, Coach Indelicato placed them in separate groups in dual matches to erase any possibility of awkwardness.
Still, the two brothers were there to push each other for all of 2019. In the end, little brother got the last laugh — Camdan lit up Diablo Grande for a 5-under 67 and the SJS Division VI individual crown, while Danton bounced back from a rough start to place third with a 76.
“It's always good to have someone on the team I can compete with and keep me motivated,” Danton said. “When your brother says he's going to kick your butt you definitely don't want to you lose, especially if it's your younger brother.
“There are days I would not feel like golfing and he would bring the best out of me, and I would do the same for him.”
The Indelicato brothers and the rest of the Knights had high hopes for 2020 with most of team back from last season. They did get one highlight — a runner-up finish in the Hilmar YellowJacket Invitational at Tracy Golf & Country Club and a chance to compete against a friendly rival.
It turns out that rival won the tournament, as Ripon High outshot Ripon Christian, 316-332. Ripon had reloaded with a crop of talented freshman to join forces with reigning Trans-Valley League MVP and Most Outstanding Player Nico Ilardi.
“I play with a lot of the kids on that team because we're all members at Spring Creek,” Indelicato said. “Pretty much their whole squad plays year-round, and when Nico isn't doing something amazing in another sport he's on the course.
“Playing against them is like playing my brother. It was good competition. We'd always see each other the next day to talk our trash, but it's all fun and games.”
This spring and summer seasons were pivotal for Indelicato, a late bloomer in the sport who has garnered little attention from college coaches. He also played football and soccer at Ripon Christian before dedicating himself to the links last year.
Indelicato will attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and major in agricultural business, possibly to get into the wine industry. He also hopes to latch on with the men's golf team as a team manager and then try out for a roster spot his sophomore year.
Outside of the high school season, Indelicato mainly competes in the Junior Golf Association of Northern California circuit. He made the JGANC Junior America's Cup Team, but that event set for 26-30 in Nevada was canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Indelicato also qualified a spot on the North/South California State Boys Championship, which may still go on Aug. 9 at Del Rio Country Club in Modesto. He is hopeful there are tournaments for him to enter this summer as a way to prove himself to Cal Poly coaches. He has a relative on the team, senior Dominick Hoover.
“Cal Poly has a solid Division I golf team and I have a cousin on the team who loves it there,” Indelicato said. “The area is beautiful and the weather is perfect. There are a lot of things that factored into it. A spot is not guaranteed for me on the team but it's something I can aspire for. It's attainable for me, I hope.”