The Cascade Christian High boys golf team is starting its second leg of the season, and with the Class 1A West Central District III tournament and a visit to the Gold Mountain Golf Club on the horizon, it’s about maintaining for the long haul.
The Cougars are in the midst of growing pains as the young core tries to find itself on the course. A golf season can be tough and grueling.
But the foursome of Dyllan Gritter, Andrew Tigges, Michael Rogers and Nathan Sateren all have the chance and endure the difficult season and reach Gold Mountain’s final day.
"I think we have four guys who can move on past districts," Cascade Christian coach Garren Clark said. "My top four guys — I feel my top two guys will have good days — but I think we can take four beyond there."
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Out of these four boys, it’s the team’s top golfer, Gritter, and No. 2 Tigges who have the best chance to make a splash at districts this year.
"I just feel that if I work on my short game, like my putting, I’ll be fine," Gritter, a sophomore, said.
Golfing is more than just about mechanics for Cascade Christian. Last year as the Cougars headed into the second day of districts, everything began to fall apart.
Their endurance was sapped and the team’s performance suffered, coming up short of claiming a top spot at districts. With knowledge of the past, Clark has geared his golfers up to prepare for an 18-hole tournament at any time.
"When we go out to some of these courses, I want you guys to walk — no carts," Clark said to his team last week at practice. "This is to prepare us for districts when we start doing 18 holes, so we don’t let what happened last (time) happen again."
Disappointment showed on the boys faces, because now they are tasked with developing a piece of their game that many neglect: endurance.
"I’m used to it," Tigges said. "I play a lot of golf in my spare time with my dad, so it’s nothing different."
It takes a lot to carry golf bags for upward of six hours and trudge through grasses and greens. And in between all this travel, they have to play the game of golf.
It can be a grueling experience to go through.
"It’s a big part of the game," Clark said. "You have to have the endurance to walk and play the game, all while people are following and watching."
Cascade Christian’s No. 1 and No. 2 golfers are sophomore Dyllan Gritter and junior Andrew Tigges, respectfully.
This year, both Gritter and Tigges have reached the mid to high 80s on 18-hole courses, keeping them on pace to make the first days of cuts at districts. It will be about whether or not these two golfers can clean up the little things in their games which will decide if they can make an impact on the competition.
"I feel my drive(r) is my best quality — not many people can drive the ball like me," Gritter said. "It’s my putting that I need to work on … I had a bad short game yesterday."
During a round April 15 at The Home Course in Dupont, the 1A Nisqually League had an 18-hole test tournament to gauge where the golfers are at this point in the season. Gritter was paired with 1A’s top golfer, Seattle Christian’s Luke Doss.
"I definitely want to play the best competition I can," Gritter said.
Doss was in the zone as he finished with an even-par 72 to win the tournament by 12 strokes ahead of Vashon’s Collin Sahnow (84). Gritter shot a 91.
"It’s good that Dyllan sees Luke now," Clark said. "He needs to see where his challenge is at. If anyone can beat Luke this year, I think its Dyllan."
Tigges had a much better day than he originally thought after the junior finished the front nine. On hole No. 9, Tigges reset his approach for the day with one drive.
Tigges’ tee shot sailed more than 290 feet and landed just atop the hill overlooking the greens. Tigges next shot landed 15 feet from the cup, allowing the junior to two-putt to par the hole.
It’s the exact approach Clark wants from his players.
"I usually struggle with my putting, and I did at the beginning," Tigges said. "I felt better on the back nine."
Tigges shot a 41 on the back nine to finish tied for third place.
"When you have fun out on the golf course, the game becomes easier," Tigges said.
Not just this year
Cascade Christian boys golf team is set up for multiple runs at district — maybe even state — titles with a very young nucleus as only one player is not set to return next season: senior Michael Rogers.
"We’re very young as only (one) guy isn’t returning," Clark said. "I even have a couple of guys on (junior varsity) who could be in my top four to six guys this year. The next couple of years are going to be fun."
"I think it’s great that there are younger guys better than me," Rogers said. "It gives me something to work toward."
As Rogers finishes up his final season with Cascade Christian, he has already left a mark. Known as one of the truest leaders he’s seen, Clark believes his younger golfers will learn something from Cascade Christian’s No. 3 golfer.
"There’s hardly a kid who’s as good as a person as Michael is," Clark said. "He’s as unselfish of a leader you can have. And he likes to have fun with them too – they see both sides. He’s the only one I’m going to lose."
There’s a lot of potential in Cascade Christian’s future, and thanks to Rogers, there’s focus and drive set in place.