Falcon golfers Guetlin and Cooley off to state

You’d think the pressure of making the cut for a berth at state finals would be excruciating.

You’d think the pressure of making the cut for a berth at state finals would be excruciating.

Not so for South Whidbey golfers Brooks Guetlin and Perry Cooley, who played through rain and wind at the District 1 championship last week to qualify for a spot at Apple Tree Golf Course in Yakima on May 27.

“I went into it with the attitude that I just wanted to have fun,” Guetlin said during a practice putting session Thursday.

“After all the work we’ve put into the season, the highs and lows, for me it boiled down to having a good time,” he said.

“I trusted my instincts and let my swings flow while ignoring the mechanical aspects.”

There were 78 golfers from 13 schools at the par-72, 18-hole Snohomish Golf Club. The magic number to move forward to the second round was 86.

Guetlin shot a blistering 73, Cooley had 77, Shane Thompson 83, Harrison Price 88, Lincoln Hawthorne 90 and Connor Mock 94.

The following day — an abbreviated adventure due to rain — Guetlin shot 40 over nine holes (for a two-day total of 113). Cooley had 42 (119) and Thompson 43 (126).

Anyone shooting 124 or better qualified for state; Thompson missed by two strokes.

The combined scores allowed the South Whidbey team to take third place behind Lynden and Burlington-Edison.

It has been a good year for the boys golfers, though not a great one — they came in second behind King’s in the Cascade Conference earlier in May, after being league champs the previous two years.

Falcon coach Steve Jones noted that the entire team played with spirit and a high degree of professionalism.

“These guys made a positive impression on the other teams, players and coaches; they did an outstanding job representing their school and the community,” Jones said. “And it was a good experience for the underclassmen. I expect great things next year.”

Cooley wasn’t as sanguine about the district championships as Guetlin.

“I focused on the fact this is my senior year, my last chance, and I wanted to shoot well,” he recalled. “I did, but I was even better in my short game, at least on the first day. There was a lot of rain and it affected everyone’s game.”

Guetlin said that the season just came together at the right time for both boys, and he looks forward to state.

“But I’m not worried; it’s just a game,” he said.

The Falcons will travel to Yakima with a big advantage. Earlier in the spring, Jones took them on a three-day road trip to play on golf courses east of the Cascades. The par-72 Apple Tree public course was on the list, so they have an idea what to expect.

Thursday, the three held a strategy session to formulate a game plan.

“Apple Tree is a lot drier, with a nice combination of forgiveness off the tee and clear sight lines,” Jones said. “But precision is needed on the course itself, because it’s littered with tough bunkers and serious water hazards on at least a third of the holes.”

Cooley said that having played there is a huge advantage.

“It’s easier to prepare because we can visualize the holes and focus on our individual games rather than the lay of the land,” he said.

Jones added that he’s really looking forward the state finals.

“Coaching these guys is a real privilege, and I expect them to do well,” he said.