Mark Olson

Mark Olson hits a putt at Snoqualmie Falls Golf Course on Wednesday.

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I took my advice on Wednesday.

If you recall from Tuesday’s front-page story in the sports section, I encouraged people during this coronavirus pandemic, otherwise known as COVID-19, to hit the links — especially considering the clement weather.

There are many ways to get outside and practice social distancing. But I’m biased and golf is my favorite option since I don’t have to come within six feet of an individual, I don’t have to come in contact with things people have touched, and I can try to reinvigorate my golf game.

But it’s also a stress reliever — depending on how your round goes, that is.

Now, as you know, with sports nonexistent at all levels, sports reporters have a little more free time before most begin to transition to the news side — if they haven’t already.

So, I took advantage. And maybe my father Mark Olson, a golf professional who was the owner of Tyee Golf Course in SeaTac before it was closed in 2014, was inspired by my Tuesday article because he reached out and wanted to play 18.

We sort of met in the middle (not really) and linked up at Snoqualmie Falls Golf Course with three other of my father’s close friends.

Coming in, I knew with limited sport story ideas, I was going to make a column out of this for the heck of it. Former Daily Record sports editor and current Kittitas PA announcer Jon Guddat did often back in the early 2000s, so why couldn’t I?

I didn’t know what it would be about, but I had a few ideas. I brought a camera to take photos of the group while trying to hit it straight and make a putt or two.

I’m a couple of months away from being two years out of college and competitive golf at the collegiate level. Since being in Ellensburg, I don’t practice and play as often as I used to, but still head out to Ellensburg Golf Club occasionally to at least know I can still swing it.

And after Wednesday’s round, I apparently do.

It didn’t start well, snap hooking my first three tee shots but managed to remain one over through four holes.

Now, today, I had in mind that I could potentially beat my dad so I’d have a story out of it. And when David Doty, head professional at Snoqualmie Falls Golf Course, asked if I could before our round commenced, it elicited the idea even more.

That hasn’t happened often in my young career. And considering my dad’s been a well-known pro in the Pacific Northwest for quite some time, it’s not surprising — and I’ve never been that competitive with him. And neither is he.

After four holes, he held a two-stroke lead over me. Then after he piped his drive down the middle on the 500-yard par 5 fifth, he showed some panache.

“See, Luke, when you get weak and old, you can hit it straight,” the 60-year old Olson said.

That’s not the first time I’ve heard that statement. But seconds later, his next assertion cured my screaming left hook shot that kept finding the trees. He advised me to turn through the shot more so my hands wouldn’t flip, and it worked. I was able to finally hit green grass and kept within three strokes of him after nine holes (37 to his 34).

And for whatever reason, I flipped the switch even after a bogey on 11 that put me two over. My best rounds have always come when I drive well, and I believe that’s the most important part of the game to score decent.

On the back nine, I couldn’t miss a fairway. There was an aura of confidence around me, and I embraced it.

I birdied the short par 4 12th and parred the next three holes, and after my birdie on the 381-yard par 4 16th, I was within one stroke of my dad.

We both made par on 17 and the 18th hole was a 515-yard par 5, setting up for a nice finish.

We both stripe our drives — mine a tad longer of course hence the 35-year difference in age — and I’m only 245 yards out from the green. I smoke my 3-wood 20 feet from the pin while he’s hitting his third shot into the green.

An eagle would be a nice finish, but my putt misses right and I settle for another birdie. He makes par and we both shoot 70.

I had in my mind I got him, as I sort of lost track on the backside. Nonetheless, a 70? Not bad.

I don’t know what the moral of the story is. How a tip turned my game around? How I took my advice to get outside and play golf? How I attempted to capture a win versus my dad that he didn’t even know about?

I think I just relished having the opportunity to get a round in during the virus pandemic with a group of guys that I grew up playing with, bringing back some nostalgia. But also with a man that’s raised me and nurtured me into the player I am.

I’ll get you next time, dad.

Luke Olson:; on Twitter: @lukeolsonb.


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