Rainy weather creates very interesting start to prep golf season

For player, it’s all about having the right attitude

By Paul Valencia, Columbian High School Sports Reporter

Published:

 

No one would blame them if they were miserable, having to endure these conditions.

It’s raining again.

Every day.

All the time, it seems.

This month has been one of the rainiest months of March on record in Southwest Washington.

Yet, high school girls golfers have splashed their way through the start of their spring season.

Golf matches are not cancelled due to rain — well, unless the course is unplayable. Actually, there have been a couple days this season when courses have been pretty much unplayable but the matches were played anyway — for fear that the next day would be even worse.

One of the best teams in the region just keeps plugging away this season — literally plugging balls into the fairway. Figuratively, they are just carrying on, hoping to improve and really hoping for a better weather pattern in the next couple of months.

“It’s hard to go out and play in the rain but it’s raining on everybody,” Camas sophomore Emma Cox said. “We go out there, make the best of it, and have a lot of fun.

“I’m a pretty optimistic person. I just say, ‘This is going to be an interesting day. Let’s see what I can do in this weather. Let’s see what happens.’ ”

Many of the Papermakers played in a junior event the day before the high school season started. They had a two-hour delay — for snow — at Lewis River Golf Course in Woodland. Guess that was a sign of what was ahead of them.

Rain. Wind. Hail.

At another junior event, one of the holes on the course was completely full of water. When a player sunk her putt, she realized her ball was not alone. There was a dead rat in there, too. Cox, very carefully, got the ball out of the cup.

Fortunately, there are no dead rats in the forecast.

It is unlikely, though, that there will be no more rain the rest of the season.

The golfers are used to it by now. And they like the remind others that they play in just about any conditions. Golfers hear how baseball and softball games keep getting postponed. Or the tennis courts are too wet for competition.

“Teachers ask, ‘Isn’t your game cancelled?’ Nope,” Camas junior Lauryn Tsukimura said.

“I feel proud to go out there. We’re still trying our hardest no matter what the weather is,” she added.

Sophomore Abby Jiang said: “At least we get to play. You just have to deal with it. We have to play. We don’t have a choice.”

Junior Avery Salvato remembers the first match of the year.

“Horrible,” she described. “My socks were completely soaked the first hole.”

Then the first home match, it was pouring again.

“It felt like forever. Three or three-and-a-half hours. Horrible.”

She said it is difficult to focus while lining up a putt with rain, riding the wind, coming in from the side, smacking her on the face.

Then there is the battle with keeping the equipment dry. Grips and gloves don’t stand a chance.

In one match, Wenny Cai, a sophomore, took a full swing and lost the handle on her club. It was an uneasy sensation as she witnessed her club flying toward an opponent.

“I almost took her out,” Cai said.

Some of the athletes deal with self-inflicted wounds that are nearly exclusive to girls golf.

“I wear my hair in a ponytail and my ponytail gets wet. It whips you in the face after a swing,” Cai said.

That stings.

Then there are funny mishaps. Take a big divot, there is a good chance the mud will find a way back into a player’s face or hair. In practice, golfers often hit off the mats at the driving range. The mats, though, are waterlogged.

“It sprays back,” Jiang said. “It flies everywhere.”

As far as the matches are concerned, the Papermakers keep recording low scores. They are adapting to the challenges.

They understand the ball will not roll after a good drive, rather it will just plug into the ground. It can be tough to find the ball, too, as it digs into the soggy grass. But they are still playing winter rules. Players can clean and replace, then hit it again.

Camas expects to win the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League and district crowns, then go to state with the hopes of a top finish there. Hailey Oster and Cox each made The Columbian’s All-Region team last spring and are on par for a repeat performance.

That will all be determined later in the spring. For now, it is just about dealing with the elements and getting to May.

“I really love golf,” Salvato said. “I am looking forward to after Spring Break and getting some sun.”

While the weather surely will improve for golf, there is no guarantee for sunny days during the most important tournaments of the season — district, bi-district and state.

High school golfers in Southwest Washington are getting quite an experience playing in rough conditions. Just like a strong golf game, it takes a positive mental approach.

“It’s whatever you want it to be,” Tsukimura said. “It can be frustrating, but you can still have fun out there.”