Taylor Koch knows how to read the greens.
It’s a deep understand Koch, a freshman at Emerald Ridge High, has with the game of golf.
On any given day, not many golfers her age are there yet, not fully grasping or understanding the “why” aspect of their successes and failures on the course. But Koch knows the reasons.
“I’ve played golf all my life — I just understand what I have to do or where I need to place my next shot,” Koch said. “That comes from playing a lot of golf.”
That time on the course paid off as Koch was able to accomplish something only Tara Knutsen did previously: make it to the Class 4A state golf tournament as a freshman. Koch stayed alive until the second day of the championship tournament at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco. She went on to finish 29th after shooting in the low 80s on back-to-back days (82 and 80).
“That final day was my lowest score of the season,” Koch said. “It was very nerve-racking sitting there after I finished (and) as the last couple of groups came in. I wanted to make sure my score would have been good enough to make it to the second day.”
The freshman’s opening-round score of 82 propelled her to day two.
A weight was lifted off the shoulders of the young Jaguar that day, as Koch came out and recorded her best score on an 18-hole course on the season. Koch averaged between 44 to 47 strokes per nine holes and around 85 strokes over 18 holes.
“That was really cool to be able to say that I was able to make it to the second day,” she said.
All the progress and setbacks Koch faced to this point were all on display that final day. After sitting in the mid- to low-80s all fall and winter long, Koch made progress when it mattered most.
It’s something that coach Ben Muehlenbruch doesn’t see that often.
“For her to have that as a freshman — being as young as she is — that’s probably the most impressive part,” Muehlenbruch said. “Some players play and just have a great day, (not) where an extra chip falls down or they knock down a couple 25-foot putts. Most players don’t get what they did to make them successful that day.
“Taylor knows exactly what she did to be successful. She just needs more experience.”
And experience is what Koch plans on getting over the summer as she hopes some of the junior circuits will help prepare her for a tougher, new-look 4A South Puget Sound League in the fall.
“It’s going to be tougher with those schools (Bellarmine Prep, Olympia and South Kitsap) joining the league,” Koch said. “I’m just going to worry about myself and deal with that later.”