When Mike Joyce is called “coach,” it’s usually by the boys on the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School’s varsity basketball team. It’s a name he’s been hearing on the court for more than 27 years.

But after listening to the pleas of his golf-playing nieces to take his coaching skills to the golf course, Coach Joyce unpacked his clubs to show them the ropes. Now, two years later, he’s on the verge of securing the regional high school its first-ever varsity girls golf team.

“There’s never been a girls golf team there,” he said. “My nieces know how much golf I play in my free time. When they asked me to do this, I thought, we’ll just see what happens.”

Workin on skills at Farm Neck driving range. — Jeanna Shepard

With the help of T.J. Reap, a physical education teacher at the high school, Coach Joyce now leads a 14-member girls club golf team. Later this year, he will apply to register girls golf as a varsity sport at the high school.

“You have to prove that there’s enough interest by running a club team for at least two years,” Coach Joyce said. “You probably need about 10 people to justify a team... so if 80 per cent of the girls stick with it, we’ll easily have that.”

The team members range from sixth to eleventh grade, and most are beginning golfers. Once the varsity team is established, the current middle schoolers will be skilled and old enough to play, Coach Joyce said. He hopes to have the team up and running by spring 2025.

Coach Joyce has reveled in stepping outside to get back to his golf roots after years of fast-paced action on the basketball hardwood, which he continues to coach each winter.

Great form and full follow through. — Jeanna Shepard

“My dad was a golf coach, so I’ve played a lot of golf in my life,” he said. “Now I’m going back to what you need to know when you’re first learning. If this was like basketball, the equivalent would be teaching them how to shoot and dribble... I’ve had to sit down and think about these things for a while.”

Thanks to a few advanced players on the team, Coach Joyce and Coach Reap aren’t the only ones teaching the younger members how to swing. Piper Blau, a seasoned golfer and sophomore at the regional high school, said that mentoring some of her club teammates has been a highlight of the season.

“I want them to keep playing so that this keeps getting bigger and bigger,” she said. “A lot of people my age have stopped playing after doing [golf] clinics because they didn’t take it seriously. I just hope that we can now actually form a girls team.”

Ms. Blau plays on the varsity boys golf team in the fall. She said that she would likely play on both teams once varsity girls golf is available.

Application to make it a varsity sport is lengthy but the foundation is there now. — Jeanna Shepard

“I like playing with the boys,” she said. “It’s a lot of competition and I thought that was really fun. I just like playing as much as I can.”

With the completion of their second club season, Coach Joyce is ready to make girls golf official at the regional high school. The application process is a long one, but he’s confident he can get the girls out on the course as soon as possible.