Shake it off.
That’s solid advice from one of the preeminent pop culture philosophers of our time, and also the rallying cry for the Bainbridge High varsity boys golf team, who, upon returning to the links recently, are determined to put behind them last season’s slump and earn a spot in the big show.
“We had a couple seniors that didn’t perform as well as they maybe could have,” said returning BHS Head Coach Dominic Lacey. “But this year I think we’re going to be really good.”
This season is Lacey’s second as top Spartan, his fourth with the program overall. He took over for Austin Hurt, who stepped down to focus on his own playing career.
Lacey said there was no single lesson learned in his first year he’d be looking to apply right off, but there was at least one that some of the players needed to master.
Now, it may seem obvious, and perhaps it’s not really that important, but lesson one for the Spartans this year: This ain’t baseball.
“Given that it is so early, we have a lot of baseball guys, returning baseball guys, which is tough for us because the baseball swing isn’t identical to the golf swing and a lot of these guys haven’t swung a golf club in many, many months,” Lacey said. “So getting the cobwebs off is definitely a little bit of a task here at the beginning in the first couple weeks.”
Still, once they started playing the right sport, the coach said he was optimistic.
“We’re heading in the right direction for sure,” he said. “It’s going to be an exciting year for us.”
The island duffers played their first home game earlier this week — the first of many, in fact. This year’s schedule shook out in such a way that the Spartans will play eight of their 10 regular season matches at home (true, one is at Meadowmeer instead of Wing Point, but still).
It’s a good thing in the short term, the coach said, but may come back to the bite them later on, like in the postseason, say.
“Schedule-wise we’re not getting as much experience over there or practice on those tracks,” Lacey said. “But we’re going to make a serious effort to get over there on our own and get some practice rounds in. We’re going to try and play as many courses out here on the peninsula as we can, just to get different tracks in under our belt.”
Already the team has played at White Horse, and more outings outside of regular practice and match times are being planned.
The roster itself is thick in the middle, with few upperclassmen (four seniors and three juniors) and freshmen (just three) on the team, but a whole slew of sophomores (six!).
“We have some great seniors who are dedicated to the game, some athletic guys who I think are really going to show up this year,” Lacey said. “We have some great junior talent with Ben Chapman, who is a dedicated student to the game and has just really impressed us around here at Wing Point. He’s going to be someone they’re going to have to look out for.”
Other standout returners, according to the coach, are Jasiah George, Zachary Cooper and Parker Loverich.
“Those guys are kind of leading the way for us,” Lacey said. “They’ve been at the game for a long time and been in our junior programs; they’re very well-rounded athletes.”
Another boon for the team is noteworthy newcomer to the program, senior John Colley.
“He’s a very talented kid, a basketball player,” Lacey said. “He’s been involved with golf a little bit growing up, so he knows what he’s doing. He’s got a beautiful swing and he’s got a lot of stuff we can work with.”
Of the competition, Lacey said the “usual suspects” — Lakeside and West Seattle, in particular — will no doubt rise to the top.
“There’s always definitely some lingering competition over there for sure that will give us a good run for our money,” he said.
Though that run will include contending with the backside of the Wing Point course this year, as matches that traditionally focused on the front nine have been relocated this season. It’s a trickier bit of the course, Lacey said, and one that even the Spartans, who practice there regularly, are less familiar with.
“It’s going to be neat what the other schools do,” he said. “They haven’t seen that side, I think, really ever. Maybe one of the teams might have in the last couple of years, but there’s a lot more trouble to get into back there.
“I really like it back there,” he added. “I think it’s nice and tight and really, really makes you hone in on your game.”
Water and lateral hazards abound, with rampant risks — and abundant rewards — for the brave, skilled player.
“My guys are always up for that challenge,” Lacey said. “They play smart, but they know when they can take those risks, absolutely.”