Kathryn Crimp state golf

Kathryn Crimp hits her 3-wood during her final round of the state tournament in Spokane earlier this month.

It’s only fitting that my first column would be about golf, as I’m sure many you readers have probably noticed a myriad of golf coverage this spring.

It’s true, I enjoy and love the sport that so many despise. After growing up at Tyee Golf Course in SeaTac that my father Mark Olson leased from the Port of Seattle for 15 years, it was inevitable I was eventually going to get the bug for the game.

It wasn’t immediate. Golf requires so much patience and fortitude and you can only imagine how difficult that may be for a young kid. I had interests in other sports.

But sure enough years later — and I still don’t know how — I found myself out at the course everyday hitting beat up golf balls into the bushes that were never to be found again, playing 9 or 18 with guys who had been hacking it around longer than I’d been alive, and getting the opportunity to play great courses in Washington because of my father who’d been in the business for quite some time.

See, Tyee wasn’t the greatest place to play in the area. It used to be a respectable 18-hole course, but over the years more and more holes were removed by the Port for environmental reasons and eventually turned into 9-holes before it was finally shut down in 2014.

There was no driving range, no restaurant, a small practice putting green, only had 20 carts, but it was plenty enough for the average golfer and me.

And so what if a Boeing 747 coming in for a landing was flying what felt like 50 feet above your head as you hit your shot. Tyee had a tee box and a green, what more could you need?

I guess I smacked that little white ball around good enough to play at a community college and then a small university in Oregon. So I know the game a little, I’ve played competitively not only in college but many notable amateur tournaments. I know what it takes and I’m still trying to figure out how to hit it straight.

So, you’re probably wondering what this column is even about.

Last Wednesday I decided to drive three hours to Spokane to cover Ellensburg High School golfer Kathryn Crimp’s final round of the WIAA 2A state tournament at Meadowwood Golf Course. I watched her fire her best round not only of the season, but her career to win the state title.

It was remarkable in so many ways that I as a golfer can appreciate and just the journey she had to get to this point.

Golf is different than other sports. While there may be a team or individual(s) you are trying to beat, in reality, it’s you versus the course. You control your destiny.

Crimp went into the final round trailing by a mere one stroke. With the way she had been playing all season, I knew there was a very legitimate chance she would take home the title to finish a scintillating career at EHS.

I knew she would be a little nervous and tense. There would be pressure on the first tee and in the final stretch depending on where she stood, but also everything in between. From experience, I know what that feels like. You’re playing well and trying to keep it under control for 4-5 hours — that’s a tough task.

But Crimp stayed focused, she kept the ball in play, hit greens, chipped it close and made putts. Besides her hiccup on the opening hole which she claimed maybe it was due to nerves, she was unwavering especially in the last few holes when it really counted.

“I wasn’t feeling nervous up until the 16th hole,” Crimp said. “It was there that I started feeling it, and I was having to tell myself to breathe. Yeah, it was very stressful those last three holes, but we managed to do it.”

It’s astonishing not just to win a state title, but how much Crimp improved from one single season. As a junior, she shot one round in the 70s and that was a 79 in the final league tournament. She finished ninth at state shooting 88 and 83 and her scoring average was 84 for the year.

But she flipped the switch as a senior, shooting in the 70s in every event this season. Not just in the 70s, but was typically close to par.

“She’s always been good and everything, gone to state three times, but her play has really surprised me this year,” EHS head coach Darrin Walter said earlier this month.

Then in the most important event of the season after a 75 in round one of state, Crimp closed with a 1-under 71 to beat the field by three strokes. She had a scoring average of 75 — a nine stroke difference from last season.

Whether you’re a fan of the game or have never even picked up a club, Crimp’s season was something not to forget.

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