Competing against the best 1A golfers in the state, Blaine golfer Devan Boucher used seemingly laser-guided putting to overcome early struggles off the tee and tied for 18th in the state championship at Lake Spanaway Golf Course near Tacoma.
Boucher shot an 81 and a 79 for an overall score of 160 in the two-day tournament May 28 and 29. The weather for the tournament was clear and sunny in contrast to recent years, and Blaine coach Steve Barthlow said many athletes had a hard time getting their tee-to-green shots to stop.
“The course had more roll to it than we’ve seen in years past,” Barthlow said.
Hoqiuam’s John Sand won the tournament with a score of 73–71–144.
Boucher began to struggle with his drives halfway through the first day, but he said the weather had little to do with it.
“My swing kind of fell apart on me,” he said.
Luckily, Boucher was able to overcome a few bad drives with incredible putting on the back nine. He one-putted the last six holes of the day, sinking multiple putts from distances of more than 30 feet.
“It was kind of bizarre how good my putting got,” Boucher said. Those putts not only salvaged day one for Boucher, but also gave him a boost of confidence heading into day two.
Knowing that he needed to improve his score, Boucher hit the driving range to work on his swing. The alignment on his clubface was off, and he knew he needed to adjust.
“He’d been hitting his driver really well in the postseason,” Barthlow said. “For whatever reason, he developed issues with his swing on day one. I think he was able to work out some of his distance-driving bugs at the range. With that and the great putting, I think that brought him back on day two with a more positive outlook.”
On day two, Boucher said he felt like his swing was more consistent. “I was back to playing consistent, boring Devan golf,” Boucher said. This season, “boring Devan golf” has become a teasing way for coaches to describe one of Boucher’s greatest strengths: consistency. He has a knack for getting good placement off the tee and following through with solid – not flashy – shots to regularly par, Barthlow said.
Along with consistency, count intelligence as one of Boucher’s gifts. At the start of the second nine on day two, Boucher still wasn’t satisfied with his drive off the tee, so he put away his driver in favor of his five-wood.
“I think that was a really smart decision,” Barthlow said. Boucher shot five pars in a row on the back nine. He improved his score from day one by two points, and although he placed 18th this year – well behind his eighth-place finish last year – Barthlow said Boucher’s game has improved dramatically. Boucher’s average score in the regular season was 78.6.
“He definitely improved his play from last year. He’s a much more consistent golfer. Consistency is one of his strengths, but I think his strongest asset is his desire to get better. He plays year-round and does whatever he can to improve, and I think that really showed in how he played this season,” Barthlow said.
For his part, Boucher said he felt pretty good about the tournament.
“I thought I could have played a little better, but I’m happy with the tie for 18th,” he said.
Boucher is headed to Washington State University next year, where he plans to major in turfgrass management. He has no immediate plans of competing in college, but he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of competing again. For now, he is happy to play the sport he loves without the stress of competition.
“Sometimes it’s great to just play the game,” he said. “Hopefully you’ll hear about me as the superintendent of some nice golf course in the future.”
Barthlow said the Blaine golf team will miss Boucher’s talent and personality.
“It will be hard to say goodbye. It always is,” Barthlow said.
He added that there is great potential in the returning athletes, but their success depends on how hard they are willing to practice.
“Hopefully they play some golf over the summer and work on their game,” he said.