It’s because of Mark that the Castillo kids got into golf. Mark, at one time a single-digit handicapper, took Derek to Birch Hills Golf Course in Brea when he was 6 years old. It was Super Bowl Sunday, so they only played the front nine. Mark wanted to get home in time to watch the game, but Derek was so upset he couldn’t play all 18 holes that he didn’t talk to his dad for three hours.
Needless to say, Derek was hooked on golf and soon enrolled in junior camps. His kid brother, meanwhile, started swinging plastic clubs in the backyard.
When he was 6, Derek entered his first junior tournament. Rickey’s first foray into competitive golf came when he was 5 … and lasted all of two holes. The reason? He abruptly decided that he’d rather ride in the golf cart with his grandmother instead. A week later, though, things were different.
“I played in a tournament at Birch Hills, and I played the entire thing,” Ricky recalled. “I loved it.”
While their father has worked extensively with them on their game, the brothers switched to PGA instructor Chris Mason at Maderas Golf Club about a year ago. Range rats they’re not, however, with Derek liking to spend time on the putting green and Ricky typically working on his chipping.
Derek said he has been working hard to get his game in shape before he heads to college in the fall. If a trip to the U.S. Amateur in August at Oakland Hills in suburban Detroit occurs before he heads to Las Vegas, all the better.
“It’s a reality that I’m leaving for college in less than five months, so for 10 months it has been a grind trying to get my game back to where it was when I was being recruited,” Derek said. “I have been getting better now, especially since this kid (Ricky) is getting better.”
Ricky has climbed to No. 17 in the AJGA Polo Rankings and could possibly earn a spot on the West’s Wyndham Cup team, a match-play event featuring the top boys and girls from around the country. He’s currently in the ninth spot on the 10-member team that will be selected in June.
“Neither one is better than the other,” Mark said. “It’s super fun to watch them play when they’re playing well and when they’re not playing well. It has been a dream come true.”