After a short season, the Scappoose High School boys golf team is looking forward to next year.
Out of the 12 golfers, only two had any competitive experience at the start of the season. The team had just one junior and one senior, while the remaining students were freshmen and sophomores.
Coach Ryan Svenson acknowledged that while golf as a pastime has been booming this year, many high school teams have seen low turnout. But Svenson said that unlike most golf teams in the league, including rival St. Helens, Scappoose hasn't had an unusually small team this season — although many of its golfers were pretty inexperienced.
When the team started practicing earlier this year, with just one week before the first tournament, eight of the 12 had never played a full 18-hole game.
"Golf is a big etiquette game," Svenson said, so the emphasis that first week was "just getting them acclimated to how to act on the course."
The first tournament was at Langdon Farms Golf Club.
"It's a very difficult course on good days. And we played it with five days of practice," Svenson said.
One of the two experienced players on the team wasn't able to attend, meaning four out of five varsity competitors had no experience. Plus, it was a windy day.
"It was a tough test right out of the gate," Svenson said.
Caleb Glenn is the team's strongest player, Svenson said, and the only junior. Glenn has scored around 80 in recent meets.
"He's kind of like the assistant coach as well. (When) I'm working with one group of kids, he'll keep an eye on other guys and help them with their swings, and give them little tips and pointers," Svenson said of Glenn. "He's a great, great player, and a really good teammate, too."
Glenn said that when he started on varsity in his freshman year, he was similar to many of the new players now, with limited experience.
"I feel like I've been able to take on the role as leader and try to get our team into a winning formula," Glenn said. "There are a lot of freshmen, sophomores, so they have plenty of time to get better, because I started out like that.
"It just takes hard work, and that's what I'm trying to pass on to them."
Though the team has had a short season like all other high school sports, the pandemic-related regulations haven't had as much impact as in other sports. Social distancing, masks, contact tracing and other regulations are the same as for other sports, but masks aren't as much of a nuisance as in sports that require more cardiovascular endurance, like sprinting.
Golfers won't go to state this year, the state athletics association decided, but the team was still able to compete in an unofficial competition to give the team more experience in that setting.
Svenson said the season has generally been less formal than past years. "This year, it's just been about getting kids out doing stuff," Svenson said.
Glenn said that he had low expectations when the season started.
"I thought we were going to get last place every tournament, but we've done better than expected."
"I think next year, we're going to do pretty well. We have a couple guys that I'm going to try to work with in the summer to get better," Glenn said. There are a few eighth-graders who will start at Scappoose High School next year who are already strong players.
Those players "will definitely improve through four years of high school," Glenn predicted, adding, "I think next year is promising for us."
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