Always keep your cool on the golf course, no matter what happens.
The Bear Creek School linksters could only shake their heads and laugh when one guy in the distance unleashed a cacophony of screams during his round at The Golf Club at Redmond Ridge on Monday afternoon. That’s not how the Grizzlies play, they said.
With their calm and competitive demeanor on tap, the Grizzlies won the 1A bi-district title last May at Jackson Golf Course in Seattle and snagged fifth at the state tournament at Sun Willows in Pasco.
John Hayes, now a senior, took fifth in his third state appearance and Oliver Nordberg, now a junior, finished tied for 21st in his second trip to state. At districts, Hayes tied for first and then lost in a tiebreaker hole to take second, and Nordberg finished in fourth place.
“Both guys, they live golf, they eat and breathe golf,” said coach Mike Faris. “There are times when they’ll come out to practice and they’ll go home and they’ll play nine holes on their own. The commitment they have to the game to improve is incredible.”
Faris said the duo is ready to make an impression this season as well.
For starters, both golfers can crush the ball off the tee, Faris said, with Nordberg hammering the ball about 305 yards and Hayes letting the ball fly about 290 yards. At Monday’s practice, both guys fiddled with the numbers a bit while joking with each other, but settled on the aforementioned marks.
Faris noted that captain Hayes possesses a solid short game and a photographic memory of his past shots and what he could do to improve upon them. He also keeps tabs on his competition, the coach added.
Hayes, who has been golfing for 11 years, laid out his key to success: “Repetition. I play golf so much, it’s the only thing I do.”
He’s received college attention and said that while he’ll play golf at the higher level, he’s not sure which school will get the nod.
While college golf is on the horizon, Hayes doesn’t focus on his links future just yet.
“There’s so many good players out there, so it’s not too big of a deal. I can play with anybody now at my age. It all matters how you play,” said Hayes, noting that he improves his game every year.
As for Nordberg, Faris said the Grizzly strives to do better each time out on the course. While driving for improvement, Nordberg said he keeps his emotions in check and stays patient.
“You have to do that in golf, and that carries over off the course, like schoolwork, anything else,” said Nordberg on the patience game plan.
He also plays soccer and swims, so the leg power he brings to golf from those other sports helps him deliver those long drives.
Weightlifting does not factor into Bear Creek golf at all.
“We tried it about two times, but it didn’t work very well,” Nordberg said as laughter erupted among him and his teammates.
Juniors Jon Campbell, Jacob Ward and Will Lutz are three other top returners.
Campbell, who also dabbles in baseball, missed out on a state spot in May and noted that he’ll work on his golf game during the winter so he’ll be ready for spring action. Since baseball and district/state golf occur in the spring, it’s tough to balance the two, but he’s ready to put in a full effort, he said.
Like Nordberg, Campbell touches on staying calm during matches.
“The key to success is definitely managing your emotions. Golf is a game of failure — you can play well, but it’s more about recovering from bad shots,” he said.
2017 Prep Boys Golf Capsules
Last year’s 3A state champs have Sean Kato, Connor Golembeski and Ryan Ho back to lead the way. Seniors Kato and Golembeski have both committed to play NCAA Division I golf at Oregon State University and Cal State Berkeley, respectively, and sophomore Ho is coming off a nice prep season and a strong summer of golf, according to coach Steve Wiebe.
Other top returners are Alex Marshall, Conner Hansford, Sebastian Rudnicki, Cooper Howe and Noah Hamlin.
“I expect our team to be in the top three teams in 3A KingCo and have a really good chance at repeating as league champions. I believe our top golfers are among the elite golfers in the state, so I see us competing once again for another 3A state championship in the spring,” Wiebe said.
According to coach Sprague Kolp, although the Owls graduated Rohit Sirosh (likely the best player Overlake has ever had, the coach said), they return four seniors, two of whom qualified for state last year: Justin Pong and Trent Gardner.
Overlake’s other two seniors — Garrett Dawson and Rish Rathinam — are much improved and looking to help lead the squad, Kolp said.
Freshman Conrad Im will help fill the hole left by Sirosh, Kolp said, adding that “he’s a seasoned tournament golfer and may challenge for the top spot on the team.”