Weather comes into play for golfers

Season winding down as bad weather arrives, with state competition in spring

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

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RIDGEFIELD — Step aside cross country, the boys golf season is playing through.

Out of the way volleyball, football, soccer and swimming, it is already championship time for golf — always on schedule but ahead of the weather.

Well, not always ahead of the weather. That’s just the goal.

Class 4A and 3A golfers in the area are competing in district tournaments this week at Tri-Mountain Golf Course in their annual race against Mother Nature.

Tuesday, it was a hard rain, followed by a drizzle, then blue skies, then a quick shower. Oh, and add some wind.

Sure, it was the worst of the weather this fall. But it still was better — on average — to play district this week rather than wait two more weeks.

Boys tennis will have its district later in the month but it could be played indoors. (Tennis, like golf, then has its state championships in the spring.)

All the other fall sports state championships are in November (or December for football).

Southwest Washington is one of the regions where the boys and girls split golf seasons. The boys play the regular season in the fall, the girls get the spring, and then the state championships for both genders are at the end of the spring season.

“It’s so fast,” Skyview’s Garrett Kooistra said of the boys season.

But most of the high school golfers in the region understand.

“It hasn’t rained too bad all (season) until now,” Kooistra said. “I like the challenge. Everyone’s in the same boat. Everyone’s going to have more of a challenge.”

The boys also appreciate playing in the fall — even if the season is just a little more than six weeks long.

“The girls get dominated by the rain,” Collin Herrema of Mountain View said, referring to the spring golf season which begins in mid-March.

Braeden Campbell of Camas added: “(All the girls do is) play in the rain. We’re the lucky ones.”

The girls season takes longer because the schedule can be back-loaded as athletic directors hope to get better weather as the season progresses. There are times when girls teams play just once a week.

Many golfers will tell you the best months of the year to golf in Southwest Washington are August and September.

There are very few high school competitions in August. But once the school year begins, the boys are playing matches twice a week.

“The boys hit the ground running,” Evergreen coach George Konzek said. “We’re only allowed 12 matches. Get your 12 competitions in and get it over.”

Before the downpours, they hope.

“We’ve had some wonderful weather,” Konzek said. “I love having the season in the fall.”

However, this week the Northwest became the Northwest again. The golfers got pre-match instructions Tuesday which included winter rules and the plugged-ball rule.

A plugged-ball rule?

Yes, if all the golfers agree that if a player’s ball landed in a certain area but no one can find the ball, there can be a free drop. That ball likely is “plugged,” possibly not to be seen again until next summer.

Not that Russell Moroye was bothered by the latest shift in weather patterns. A junior from Mountain View, he was wearing shorts for his round.

“It’s comfortable, and I don’t get cold very easily,” Moroye said.

As he was warming up on the practice green, it was blue skies above him, dark clouds a few miles off.

“I hope it will be nice when I tee off,” he said. “I like golfing in the fall. You’re more likely to get sunny weather that way. It gets colder toward the end, but I can handle it.”

Union’s Ian Spicer said he wishes the season could be a little longer.

“It would give us a better chance to get in a groove to get ready for district,” he said.

He also would prefer a less hectic match schedule.

“If you had more time between matches, you’d have more time to get ready for it. Maybe play a practice round. That would help the scores a lot.”

Yet, Spicer still sees the benefits of the fall season.

“It’s the best weather, and you get the whole (summer) to get ready for the (high school) season. And the courses are still in good shape,” Spicer said.

That’s a big one. The girls in the spring get to playing golf just as the courses are coming out of their winter slumber. The courses are wet, trying to find two or three days in a row just to start to get dry.

In the fall, the courses start off dry and need a lot of rain to get drenched. By mid-October, it might start raining enough to alter the courses.

By then, Southwest Washington high school boys golfers are off the course, preparing for the indoor workouts and driving range sessions. They will re-emerge in May, either to place in a bi-district tournament ro advance straight to state.

And hopefully about that time, the weather turns good again.