The 2018-19 Bainbridge High School girls golf team set a record before they ever hit the links.
Twenty would-be duffers turned out this season, besting the squad’s previous record of 19 (set in 2016). Last year saw a bit of a slump, with only 15 girls showing up, though the low number did nothing to dampen the Spartans’ showing (they went 9-1 in the regular season).
The especially deep bench, plus some stellar returners and a few hard-driving freshmen, has set the best possible tone for this season, said longtime BHS Head Coach Ian Havill.
“That’s always fun, to see more and more girls coming out and getting interested,” he said. “I’m pretty confident that at this point in the season … we’ve got a good group that’s dedicated and wants to compete for the Metro title.”
The team is led from within by star returners, co-captains Lucy Hanacek (a senior) and Kendall Havill (junior).
“They do a good job,” the coach said of the seasoned duo. He has relied on the captains more than usual this year as bad weather necessitated a bit of a shakeup, and often the team’s practice locales were in question. The team’s already played White Horse Golf Club, Meadowmeer Golf & Country Club and Jackson Park Golf Course.
“We’ve been over to Jackson twice, played 18 holes twice, because it’s the first time since I’ve been coaching we’re playing one of the days of the Metro tournament at Jackson,” Havill said. “We [had] never … played the back nine there ever. We played the front nine three or four times. So we’re getting the hang of it.”
The varsity squad also boasts two sophomores: Anna Kozlosky and Madison Culp, both of whom saw serious playing time as freshman last year.
Only one freshman, Grace Frei, nabbed a varsity spot this year, but her presence has been long anticipated.
“She’s been around forever, it feels like,” Havill said. “I was like, ‘When is she going to be in high school?’ She’s a good player … a solid varsity freshman.”
In time, the coach said, the team’s youngest member will almost certainly be, “one of the best players in the league.”
“Kendall and Grace are battling it out for the best player, the best scoring average,” he said. “They’re fun to watch, those two.”
Hanacek, Kozlosky and Culp “are all right there,” he added. “They’re just really rock solid.”
In fact, there seems to be barely a weak spot in the Spartan game as yet.
“I would say our ball striking is above average,” the coach said. “We drive the ball well, and we’re putting well. We need to keep working on our chipping.
“Drive for show, putt for dough, that’s what they say.”
And even though the “dough” the Spartans are chasing is points rather than cash, the coach said one’s short game, while admittedly less glamorous than an awe-inspiring long drive, is perhaps more crucial overall.
“You need both, but if you’re talking about your score, how to score, you have to be able to be good on the greens and around the greens,” Havill said.
The five varsity golfers will are supported by four promising new faces — the varsity/JV swing players, at least one of of whose score may make all the difference in a pinch.
“You get to count four scores in a match,” Havill explained. “You can play eight, it used to be six and I still kind of think of it as six, so we have five that their scores are going to carry the team. So one of them can play, have an off day, and we’ll still have a solid team. Then you’ve got our four swing players that are competing for that sixth spot.”
The swing players are Makena Miller, Hayden Jobes, Lindsay Payne and Catherine Rolfes.
“I really see a bright future going forward for our guys,” Havill said. “They just need to figure out how to play golf a little bit, to score better, but in terms of their effort? Their interest is super high.”
Given the known graduation losses, Havill said he expects the strongest teams to be “the usual suspects”: Bainbridge, Seattle Prep, Roosevelt and Holly Names, at least.
Having a large, solid squad of dependable players, even devoid an obvious superstar, gives Bainbridge a better shot at the title, he added.
“I really doubt anybody will be as deep as we are,” he said. “There will be three kids that will probably will score higher, like the best three golfers in the league. But when you get to our number one, she’s very good, like the fourth best player. And our number two will be like the fifth or sixth best.”
The girls varsity golf team began their season on the road, against Bishop Blanchet, and will play their first home match at 2:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10 at Wing Point Golf & Country Club against Lakeside.