San Clemente’s Michael Sarro enjoys junior golf success in 2013
By Steve Breazeale
Out on the driving range at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo, 11-year-old Michael Sarro is working on his rhythmic, consistent swing that has already turned so many heads.
He asks which club he should hit next. His father, Dave Sarro, suggests he hit his driver. The young Sarro’s face lights up just a bit, a little grin creeping in at the mention of his cut down, specially made TaylorMade club. Michael likes hitting his driver and it’s his favorite club in the bag. He’s already spent the past hour and a half working on his swing with coach Michael Block, but Sarro doesn’t mind hitting a few more.
His natural, controlled swing starts.
He hits all of the crucial positions and sends a ball straight ahead that hooks back right-to-left just a bit in mid-flight to complete the nice easy draw Sarro uses to navigate his way around courses. He tees up another and does it again and again.
His swing is so consistent that he’s used it to pave his way to a first place finish at the Buenaventura Spring Classic on February 24 in Ventura as part of the Southern California PGA Junior Tour.
The win was his sixth top-10 finish in eight events entered this season. He’s never finished outside the top-15 and currently stands in a tie for 14th place in the spring standings on the SCPGA Junior Tour age 9-11 circuit.
With all of the success he’s had, it’s surprising to learn that this breakout 2013 season for Sarro almost never happened.
When Sarro was 8-years-old he qualified to play on the junior tour but instead, chose to play baseball and soccer. He essentially stopped playing golf for two years before he had a change of heart.
“Baseball and soccer wasn’t getting as fun because it was getting really competitive,” Sarro said. “It wasn’t really about having fun anymore…(In golf) you can pretty much do whatever you want. You can go practice whenever you want and it’s not scheduled or anything.”
Sarro, who’s best 18-hole score is 75 (+3), now commits at least three days out of the week to practice and plays in one or two tournaments on the weekends. He’s had the help of Block, the Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club teaching pro, who recently made the cut and finished T76 at the Northern Trust Open on the PGA Tour.
Block does not normally instruct junior golfers but decided to make an exception, given Sarro’s passion for golf and his desire to compete in tournaments. Since Sarro’s return to the game and his return to junior competition, Block has seen a noticeable spike in his pupil’s performance.
“The way he’s progressed over the last sixth months is unbelievable. His distance improves on almost, literally, a weekly basis,” Block said. “He’s had more progression in the last sixth months than any student I’ve ever seen. So the next couple of years will be huge for him.”
Block described Sarro as a “feel player”, who relies on sound swing fundamentals but also adjusts to moments and shots differently. He’s not robotic in any sense and doesn’t force himself to get to certain positions in his swing. Instead he is able to play it solely on feel, a concept that is foreign to some, but something that comes naturally to Sarro.
Sarro’s favorite golfer is current world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and he draws inspiration from the 23-year-old phenom from Northern Ireland. Block and Sarro have been breaking down video of the youngster’s swing alongside McIlroy’s to help gain insight.
“(McIlroy) is small but he hits it really far. His swing is perfect,” said Sarro, who, according to his father, has yet to hit his growth spurt.
The future is bright indeed for the young Stoneybrook Christian student and San Clemente resident. He will play dozens of tournaments throughout the year with his eyes set on the PGA Junior Golf Tour Championship in Moreno Valley in May and the Junior World Golf Championships at PGA West in July.
Back on the range it’s time for Sarro to wrap things up. He takes a swing and hits his first flat shot of the day, a low line drive to the left. But Sarro does not want to end the day on that note. He quickly grabs one more practice ball, lines it up and sends it arching straight down the line, ending his day with another solid shot.