It took a long time for Conor Lees to make it this far.
After starting off his golf career finishing last on the junior varsity team, the Bonney Lake High senior was able to reach the Class 3A boys state golf championship at The Creek at Qualchan Golf Course in Spokane, where Lees finished tied for 23rd with a combined score 158 strokes.
“With the (team) placing the highest ever, (that) was pretty dang cool,” Lees admitted. “It was a really great year.”
With Curtis Koltermann finishing 13th (152 strokes), Bonney Lake’s boys team was able to finish in fifth place (45 points), the program’s highest team finish. The Panthers (10-2) finished second in the 3A South Puget Sound League behind league champion Enumclaw (12-0).
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Lees shot a 79 on each day of the two-day tournament.
“You know, we stuck in there until the end,” Lees recalled about the fall season. “We beat Sumner on the final day to take second (in league).”
Ever since Lees first came to Bonney Lake, he’s witnessed the growth of the golf team. But no golfer’s growth stood out more than his own over the years.
“Curtis has always been out in front. Ever since the first couple practices, he’s been real good,” Lees said. “I had to learn better ways to swing or to approach the game — I used to grip my club like it was a baseball bat. I had to learn to interlock my grip.”
Simple mechanics made mammoth changes for Lees’ game, as the senior became one of Bonney Lake’s top golfers over the years.
When (Conor) is given a challenge, he goes after it.
JD Rushton, Bonney Lake High golf coach
“When (Conor) is given a challenge, he goes after it,” Bonney Lake coach JD Rushton said. “When I cut him, he made it his personal mission to be a part of varsity. If you’re not at the level you believe you should be, prove me wrong. And he proved me wrong.”
And that’s all that ever mattered for Lees over his career: self-improvement. Because Lees’ career isn’t done.
“If I’d have kept him instead of cutting him, would there still be the same drive he had through the rest of his career? I don’t know,” Rushton said. “He has that same desire to play golf at college.”
There’s still plenty of growth left for Lees, who plans on attending Walla Walla College to continue his golf career there. From there, who knows?
“I got to play a round of golf with the coaches when I was over there, and I really enjoyed the school and the area a lot,” Lees said. “I want to play with them, and then move up to a Division II or D-I school.”
And maybe even more golf beyond that point?
“Yeah, maybe. That’s the hope, that I can go as high up with (golf) as I can,” Lees said.