Before Preston Bebich could even walk, he received a set of plastic golf clubs for Christmas. He played with them all the time, and once he could walk, he set out the backyard with the plastic clubs and golf-sized whiffle balls.
“I’d take my little driver, tee it up on the grass and hit away,” Bebich said.
He would aim for a specific tree in the backyard.
“I wouldn’t stop until I hit the tree that I picked,” Bebich said.
Now a freshman at Peninsula High School and already one of the team’s top golfers, that drive hasn’t stopped. If anything, it’s only increased over the years. Bebich plays constantly, all year, at Canterwood and boasts a 3 handicap already as a freshman.
“Golf isn’t an easy sport,” Peninsula golf coach Russ Bloom said. “You can’t just pick it up. You’ve got to put a lot of time into it. … You can’t coach passion.”
Bebich has passion for the sport in spades. His best round came — perhaps unsurprisingly — at his home course of Canterwood, where he shot a 1-over 37. Despite only being a freshman, Bebich is optimistic about his chances to get to the Class 3A state tournament this year.
“I’d like to make it to state, do my best at state,” Bebich said. “I don’t really want to leave stupid mistakes out there or anything. I think it’s just consistency and a good mental mindset. If you have a good mental attitude, there’s nothing that can stop you.”
Another teammate with a good chance to join him in the state tournament is junior Austin Esser. Esser is a little newer to golf than Bebich, having only taking up the sport three years ago. Growing up playing tennis and soccer, Esser had to dial things back after suffering a number of serious injuries. At first, it was just something to do. But Esser started getting pretty good.
“I just like to get out and about, have a sport to compete in,” Esser said. “Golf was just the next thing along the journey.”
And his soccer background has made him somewhat unfazed by the constant downpour of rain throughout the early part of the spring.
“You can take it as a challenge,” Esser said. “It’s something different. The rain doesn’t really play along with me. I’ve always played soccer in the rain. It’s just another factor.”
Peninsula is currently 3-2 overall with a 2-1 record in the 3A South Sound Conference. While Bloom has the luxury of a few experienced golfers, it’s a mixed bag.
“Some kids, it’s just something they want to come out and do,” Bloom said. “I don’t have a problem with that. A lot of it, starting out, is just going over the safety, the etiquette, taking care of the course. I really stress that a lot.”
Bloom is confident the Seahawks will send at least a couple athletes to the state tournament this year.
“I feel pretty confident that two to three of them should make it,” Bloom said. “You never know. I don’t want to say it’s a guarantee but they have a real good chance.”