Four friends convinced each other to try golf as ninth-grade students. Four years later, they finished as a top-10 1A girls golf program.
South Whidbey seniors Jenna Kaik and Hannah Cotton qualified for the state tournament, and Chelsey Schultz barely missed the cutoff mark. Cotton sprained her ankle in a bizarre accident the night before the tournament after she tripped in a parking lot. Kaitlyn Hanson varied between varsity and junior varsity.
This class paved the way for South Whidbey to make an impression across the state. Along the way, the Falcons won the Cascade Conference championship, the 1A District 1 championship and the tri-district championship. Not bad for a handful of girls who started swinging irons, drivers and putters four years ago.
Here are their reflections on their careers with the Falcon golf team, coached by Tom Sage and assistant Ron Eaton.
How were you introduced to golf?
Cotton: My parents introduced me to golf, we would go out and play Island Greens once in awhile.
Hanson: Ninth grade. My friends and I (Jenna and Hannah) thought that it could be fun … so we gave it a try.
Kaik: I never really expected to play golf, it was a last-second decision to join along with Hannah and Kaitlyn.
Schultz: I was introduced to golf by my dad. When I was little he taught me how to putt and I had my own little golf bag and clubs. As I got older he would let me putt when he played. He was the one who urged me to play golf, and he was the reason I kept playing golf when it got really hard in the beginning.
What kept you interested?
Cotton: Playing with my best friends.
Hanson: My friends being there for sure kept me interested. Also the friends that I made playing golf kept me interested and the individuality of the sport.
Kaik: Starting out on varsity as a freshman really was the thing that kept me coming back to golf. Then as the years went by I came to love the sport more and more and I am so sad to be graduated because I had such a great time on the team.
Schultz: At first I only played golf so I could learn for my dad, but then eventually it became a challenge between me and the course. I constantly wanted to improve and do better. My greatest motivation was to one day beat my dad at golf, which I did for the first time last year.
How did you improve?
Cotton: The help from the coaches and golf pros at Useless Bay Golf and Country Club.
Hanson: Well, freshman year I can definitely admit that I was awful. I had no clue how to play and it was not as easy as it looked. I have come a long way since then and actually know the rules of the game because of the awesome rule master Coach Sage. And I can somewhat swing a golf club.
Kaik: I improved a lot from my freshman year until now. I work really hard on my swing and I went from shooting 108 as a freshman to 82 as a senior.
Schultz: I improved in many ways. Obviously I improved at the actual game of golf but I also improved in attitude and the willingness to learn, grow, and take advice.
What is your favorite experience with the team not golfing?
Cotton: All of the van rides, they were a blast.
Hanson: Well because I play golf with my two best friends Jenna and Hannah we have tons of experiences together besides at golf. I will always remember the silly van rides on the way to matches and all the weird things that happened in them.
Kaik: Definitely the van rides, they just brought all of us so close together and by the end of the season we started to feel like family.
Schultz: I think that my favorite experience with the team while not actually playing is being in the golf van. Before a match everyone is bubbling with energy and are chatty and crazy. After a golf match it can be extremely loud or extremely quiet off the bat and then everyone fades into exhaustion.
What are your favorite courses? Favorite hole?
Cotton: Cedarcrest Golf Course in Marysville and Useless Bay. I don’t have a favorite hole, I liked a lot of them!
Hanson: I had a good time at all of the courses but my favorite is Useless Bay, even though it is the hardest one. My favorite hole is the fourth. I always seemed to do well on that hole. I got my first par on that hole. I also got it on the green in two strokes, which is a good thing for me.
Kaik: I would have to say Useless Bay is my absolute favorite but I also really enjoyed playing Gold Mountain and North Bellingham because they are all challenging, beautiful and fun. Hole four at Useless Bay Golf Course, that is always my best hole and I have birdied it multiple times and have been close to an eagle on it also.
Schultz: My favorite course is our home course of Useless Bay, and my favorite hole is the 7th hole. The 7th hole was the hardest challenge for me as a freshmen even though it was a par 3. It was because you has to go directly over water. I learned that it was mind over matter and I learned to pretend that there was no water at all. It used to be my hardest hole, now that hole is usually good for a par or bogey.
Worst hole you ever played?
Cotton: Hole No. 1 was definitely a hard one for me; until this past year it always got me frustrated and the best of me, but now I love that hole.
Hanson: At Useless Bay I have to say that I hate the first hole with a burning passion. I have never done well on that hole. I am hoping one day I can actually finish that hole out and score some points. I also hate every hole at Blue Boy. I never had a good experience there … it was always raining!
Kaik: Hole 15 on the Useless Bay golf course, because this year while playing against King’s I went in the water hazard and had to go to the drop zone and went back into the water from there. I had to pick up but if I would have made it across the next time and two putted I would have had an 11 on that hole.
Schultz: How about my worst match, my first varsity match as a freshmen where I didn’t score a single point by “X-ing” out on every single hole on our home course.
Best tip about playing golf:
Cotton: Don’t give up, it is a very frustrating sport. Don’t let one hole get to you, start with a clean slate at the next tee box.
Hanson: The best tip I have about playing golf would have to be always bring a light rain coat if you live in Washington. And if you start getting frustrated just shake it off because you always have the next hole! That definitely got me through golf. Also a positive attitude is the key.
Kaik: Have patience and when you make one bad hit don’t stress about it, shake it off and concentrate on making your next hit phenomenal because if you can’t shake off the bad hit it will affect your whole game and you will end up with a bad score.
Schultz: Stay calm.