Every Thursday, it’s about Cougar Hill for the Cascade Christian boys golf team.
On the warm, cloudy days, these hikes where team members carry close to 100-plus pound bags are not that bad. But when it’s hot out, that’s when the boys begin to feel the hill grinding them into the dirt as they trek up the slopes behind the school.
It’s a maddening trek each and every week.
“It’s really not that bad, but it can be awkward trying to carry our (golf) bags up it,” Dyllan Gritter said. “We sometimes have to help each other keep our balances.”
Never miss a local story.
There’s a method to Cascade Christian coach Garren Clark’s madness. He’s putting his team through great lengths to prepare it for playing Gold Mountain Golf Club in Bremerton.
It’s almost kind of like Chambers Bay where the course almost turns into hills and valleys — it slopes up on golfers, so we’re trying to get them ready for that trek. We want them to be prepared for what they’ll experience at state.
Cascade Christian coach Garren Clark
“It’s almost kind of like Chambers Bay, where the course almost turns into hills and valleys — it slopes up on golfers, so we’re trying to get them ready for that trek,” Clark said. “We want them to be prepared for what they’ll experience at state.”
There’s a reason for Clark’s hopes for his Cougar team: Cascade Christian has been striking gold in its pursuit to reach Gold Mountain in May, but none more than Gritter, the team’s No. 1 golfer.
“I feel more confident in my game this year than I did last season,” Gritter, a junior, said. “I feel like I’ve been more prepared for what I see out on the course. I’m able to react to it better than I did last year.”
It’s about reacting and improving, Gritter emphasized, as the junior and his Cougar teammates felt the burden of Gold Mountain last spring. Heading into the tournament, Gritter was averaging a 78 to 83 strokes over an 18-hole course. But he fell apart when state hit, and there was nothing Gritter could do to right his game.
I feel like I’ve been more prepared for what I see out on the course. I’m able to react to it better than I did last year.
“I felt like I lost control, and that cost me,” he admitted. “I didn’t have the right mindset heading into state, so that’s why I’ve put more focus on my game this season. I don’t want to experience that again.”
It’s not just Gritter, who has averaged 76 strokes per 18 holes and has won three medals in five matches. And it’s not just Gritter, but the entire golf team, which has been on fire since the start of the season.
The trio of Gritter, Andrew Tigges (40 average per nine holes) and Nate Beardemphl (43 average per nine) have the Cougars on a record-setting pace.
Entering the season, Cascade Christian’s single-match record as a team was 177 strokes. This year’s squad has broken the mark twice.
The Cougars opened the season by shooting a 194 against Vashon, then recorded back-to-back, record-setting performances with 166 strokes in a win over Bellevue Christian on March 15 and 173 in a win over Seattle Christian seven days later.
“We’ve been having a good time playing together. It’s easy for us to go out and play a match because we have fun being around each other,” Gritter said.
With the spirits of the Cougar boys team at an all-time high, Cascade Christian is primed to keep churning out gold come next month.
“I’m aiming for a top three or four placement, but I think this is the year our team can really compete for the (1A) title,” Gritter said. “We’re set up for our run at state now.”