When Blaine's Young Lee first tried out for the Borderites' girls' golf team her freshman year, she had no clue she'd be Blaine's No. 1 golfer three years later.
She definitely didn't believe she'd be heading into her senior year as a returning state participant.
Anybody can learn the game of golf. Learning how to be good at golf isn't so easy.
Lee is a different case.
"That's what is pretty amazing about her. She hasn't been playing all that long and she has a really strong game," Blaine coach Ron Kowalke said in a phone interview. "When she squares it up, she can hit a ball a long way."
Kowalke described Lee as a quiet person. He said his first eye-opening experience with his senior wasn't something she did on the golf course. It was a joke she made two weeks into her first season after she spent the beginning of the year keeping to herself. Now, though, Lee is as big as a part of the team as anyone.
Truthfully, she doesn't need to be an outspoken player. Her golf game speaks volumes.
Lee ranked 12th among Northwest Conference golfers last year with 279 Stableford points. It's a large improvement over the 93 points she scored as a sophomore.
Lee said she decided to play golf her freshman year because her dad played the game. She said he "kind of pushed her to play."
It was after her sophomore year, and more specifically after the district tournament her sophomore year, when Lee decided to commit herself to the sport.
"After districts I realized I really need to practice," Lee said in a phone interview. "I asked my parents to pay for some lessons, and they got me a membership at the local golf course."
Lee's time playing at Semiahmoo has paid off. She made state last year and missed the cut by just 2 strokes. Lee was Blaine's top state finisher.
Her progress, in large part, is due to her willingness to learn and get better.
"She is very determined, and she is very coachable," Kowalke said. "She has a good feel for the game, and she seems to be able to know where her position of her club head is and how to make adjustments in her swing."
Kowalke said Lee's strength is her power and general driving abilities. He would like to see her stronger around the greens as well as work on her mental game.
Lee blamed her mental shortcomings for her stumble on the back nine during last year's state tournament. Kowalke said Lee had a few bad holes and was just able to pull herself together enough for a strong finish. Unfortunately, the damage had been done.
"I started off strong, but then the rain starting pouring, and I kind of gave up," Lee said. "My coach brought me back, but it was too late."
Lee said her goal this year is to make the cut. If she learns from last year's mistakes as quickly as she has learned to golf, she should be in line to play on day two this year.
Kowalke will also be counting on Lee's leadership. She is taking over Blaine's No. 1 spot, and she'll be relied on to bring along less experienced girls.
"She's going to have to play No. 1 this year and play against better girls," Kowalke said. "Her attitude will carry over to the rest of the girls."
Kowalke said Young is a golfer who hasn't received a ton of recognition. It's tough playing in a conference with Whatcom County talents like Brooke Branigan, Jenn Paul, Audrey Orem, Madi McNeely, Laura Wilson and Abbi Rautenberg. But Kowalke indicated Lee is primed for another breakout year in her last season as a Borderite.
Reach Andrew Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-756-2862.
Reach ANDREW LANG at email@example.com or call ext. 862.