Malibu High School girls golf team putting and driving for the first time ever

The Malibu High girls golf team is in its first year as a school sport. Shown from left: Caidyn Ovsiowitz, Hedaya Abdul Karim, Sophia Sabag, Coach Anna Deshautelle, Iman Abdul Karim, Audrey Hamry, Irina Columbeanu, and Chloe Loquet. The only player not pictured is Claudia Rubin. Photo courtesy Najla Alghaziani.

Sisters Iman and Hedaya Abdul Karim’s love for the links began this past summer in the Coachella Valley.

The two Malibu High School students stayed at a residence at the PGA WEST golf course in La Quinta in their time off from school. Their stay at the resort, which includes courses named after golf legends Greg Norman and Jack Nicklaus and course designer Pete Dye, spurred the teenagers to take golf lessons. 

Soon after their first swing of a club, Iman, also a basketball player, and Hedaya, accustomed to swinging a softball bat, began to enjoy golf. 

“Basketball is a lot of pressure, lot of energy,” said Iman, 16, a junior. “Golf is so much calmer. You can be still. I just love that. Being still and just playing it. You can focus. It is really nice and peaceful.” 

Hedaya, 15, a sophomore, enjoys the switch from hitting softballs on the diamond to golf balls on the green.

“It was really hard to learn how to hit with the clubs, and I got a little frustrated at first, but it’s such a nice sport,” she said. “You fall in love with it and you want to get really good at it.”

The siblings thought they would only be able to golf in their free time when the school year started, but then they learned that Malibu High would have a girls golf team this fall. 

The school had only fielded a boys team during the spring in past school years, but Anna Deshautelle, the coach of both squads, said the decision was made to have a Malibu girls program to hit the links after two girls that played on the boys team last spring had strong seasons.

Deshautelle said those two girls, including senior Sophia Sabag, did a good job of spreading the word that there would be a girls team this year.

“They were recruiting, trying to get their friends to play,” she said. “We have a bunch of girls that want to learn the sport.”

Iman said she and her sister were happy to join that squad and be part of the inaugural season. 

“It was awesome because that is what we had been doing all summer,” she said. “Just playing and playing.”

Aside from Sabag, the team’s captain, who played on the boys team the past three seasons, the rest of the Sharks squad are first-time golfers. The roster includes Audrey Hamry, Caidyn Ovsiowitz, Chloe Loquet, Claudia Rubin, and Irina Columbeanu.

Sailor Graham, the other girl on last season’s boys team, no longer attends Malibu. 

Since the Sharks are majority novice golfers, Deshautelle said, a lot of time this season has been committed to learning the sport.

“We hit balls at Westlake Golf Course on the range and do a lot of putting contests and drills,” she said noting that group is composed of good athletes. 

The coach said Sabag encourages her teammates. 

“She’s a very calm personality, a mature young woman,” Deshautelle noted.

The team’s season began on Sept. 7 with nine-hole match against St. Bonaventure. 

Hedaya said the match was a mix of emotions. 

“It was thrilling,” she said. “It was nerve-racking, but also really exciting. It was really fun. It was a good learning experience.” 

Ovsiowitz hit a birdie from five feet out on par-3 during the match, said Deshautelle.

“That was exciting,” the coach said. “That’s the kind of thing that keeps you coming back. She got a legit birdie in her first round of golf.” 

The team’s second match was against Fillmore, a Citrus Coast League opponent, on Sept. 22.

Malibu will face league opponents the rest of the season. That includes Hueneme on Thursday, Nordoff on Oct. 6, Channel Islands on Oct. 12, and Santa Paula on Oct. 19. 

The Sharks are not hosting any of the matches since they are a first-year team. 

Golf is known as a tough sport to master. 

Hedaya said seeing success on the course isn’t easy, but she treats each hole as a new opportunity for success. She really wants to hit a hole-in-one. 

“If I keep working at it,” she said. “I hope I can get there.” 

Her sister said the sound produced when a swung club meets a ball perched atop a tee is satisfying. 

“You get it to fly,” Iman said. “You are really motivated to get better at it.”

Their coach said her goal for the season is for the Sharks to fall in love with golf and to want to play it all their lives. 

“We try to make it fun,” Deshautelle said. “I think the girls are enjoying the camaraderie of being a part of a team.”