Golf teams looking to improve early on

Published on Thu, Mar 27, 2014 by Ian Ferguson

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Blaine golf is on the backswing at this point in the season, with younger players looking to gain varsity experience.

Most players on the boys golf team are transitioning from learning the mechanics of the sport to learning how to achieve a low score. According to coach Steve Barthlow, that process has been smooth so far.

“It’s pretty easy to tee a ball up and go whack it, but we’ve been learning how to score over 18 holes,” Barthlow said. “I’ve been really pleased with what’s going on in practice. The team as a whole is really listening and working on skills.”

Senior golfer Devan Boucher went to the state tournament along with Ryan Wallen last year. Wallen, who won the state tournament his sophomore year and was the runner-up his freshman, junior and senior years, now plays for the University of Wyoming. Boucher placed eighth at the state tournament and returns as an experienced senior.

“In the past [Wallen and Boucher] have always carried the team. Now [Boucher] is really stepping up and being a positive leader,” Barthlow said.

The other three varsity players, Charlie Baldwin, Aaron Onyon and Chad Rhymer, have shown promise in early matches, but four players are not enough for the team to compete at the varsity level. Most teams bring six players and score the top five. Without a fifth player, Blaine had to add 10 points to their highest score and add that total to the team score in their first match of the season at North Bellingham.

“That really hurt us,” Barthlow said. “We’re looking for at least one, ideally two, junior varsity (JV) players to step up to varsity, but it’s a process. Varsity is very different from JV because you’re playing 18 holes instead of nine.”

Barthlow expressed optimism that JV players would soon be ready for the switch.

At North Bellingham Golf Club March 18, Blaine placed sixth out of six teams with a score of 571. Boucher was the individual runner-up with a five-over score of 77. The team participated in a friendly match at Homestead Golf Course on March 25. In groups of two, four team members played best ball on the front nine and a scramble on the back.

“It was an opportunity for the guys to see a style of play that isn’t stroke play. It also gave us a good look at the Homestead course, which is where we’ll play when we get back from spring break,” Barthlow said.

The next match for the Borderites is at the Birger Solberg invite, hosted by Ferndale at Homestead Golf Course on Thursday, March 27. Tee-time is 12:30 p.m.

The girls golf team has even more rebuilding to do than the boys team, with all five girls stepping into the varsity role for their first time.

Ron Kowalke recently resigned as head coach of the girls golf team, and former JV coach Laura Vincent has stepped up to the head coaching position.

Vincent said that although it would undoubtedly be a rebuilding year, the girls have been highly coachable.

“This is a great group of girls,” Vincent said. “They are very positive and willing to learn. I think they’ll improve their game a lot over the course of the season.”

The next action for the girls golf team is Tuesday, April 8 for the Skagit 9 tournament at Skagit Golf and Country Club in Burlington. The girls tee off at 3 p.m.