Crocus and daffodils are the only things popping up in droves thanks to an unusually warm stretch of late winter weather.
Out on the links at San Juan Golf & Country, the Friday Harbor golf team is bursting at the seams. A total of 17 players turned out for the 2015 season, giving fifth-year coach Jack Rice his largest roster to date and an unexpected opportunity to expand the program’s foundation.
All things considered, Rice said it’s a pleasant change of pace from smaller turnouts of the past and the soggy spring of 2014.
“It’s fun out on the golf course,” he said. “And the kids want to get outside. Why wouldn’t you want to do it?”
While a number of newcomers are underclassmen, an equal portion of the first-year players are seniors and seasoned-competitors, like Max Haenel and Sam Paul-Barrette, or foreign exchange students, like Elise Renson, who opted to get a taste of American culture byway of the game of golf.
“There are three foreign exchange students at the high school and all of them out for golf,” Rice notes.
For the first time in four years, Kendra Meeker won’t be grabbing all the headlines for the Friday Harbor squad. The homegrown golfing sensation and perennial state tournament contender, lost to graduation, now swings the clubs for Bellevue College. But that allows a foursome of returning players, affectionately known as “The Four Horseman,” the opportunity to lead the pack.
Rice foresees a stellar season ahead for each of the Horsemen, juniors Jess Hargrove, Jesse Kolowitz, Keegan Hebert and Cole Thomas, after they spent the past two years sweetening strokes and fine-tuning their game.
“All four started as freshmen and the mission then was to break 60, then the next year to break 50,” he said. “This year they’re already breaking 50 and we’re looking to get into the mid-40s as the season goes along.”
In a stroke of good fortune, Rice will have help in keeping the sizable roster on course and with instruction on the finer points of the with a former team standout, Riley Rouser, by his side. Rouser, runner-up in the 2013 league championships, just happen to be back home this spring and volunteered to help out with the team.
And, as in previous seasons, Rice can count on the always enthusiastic assistance of members of the San Juan Golf & Country Club for support.
With five matches at home mid-March through mid-April, Friday Harbor fans will have ample opportunity to catch the home team in action (see schedule).
– Scott Rasmussen