Olson assumes leadership of LC

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMarch 21, 2014 

Lynden Christian’s Lincoln Olson plays in the Birger Solberg Tournament on Thursday, March 28, at Bellingham Golf and Country Club.

ANDY BRONSON — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

Constant rain in the Pacific Northwest has a way of discouraging most golfers.

The puddling fairways and saturated greens are less-than-ideal conditions to hone one's game, but to Lynden Christian's Lincoln Olson, it offers an opportunity.

"Ninety-five to 96 percent aren't going to be out in the rain working on their game," Olson said in a phone interview. "Dana (Hagen, LC's coach) said winners do more. There isn't a point you can be so good you can't stop practicing."

It's on the worst of days that Olson has seen his golf game become one of the most dangerous in the Northwest Conference. As a sophomore, he finished in a tie for 12th at the Class 1A State Boys' Golf Championships after a two-day total of 157, helping the Lyncs to a second-place finish as a team.

But Lynden Christian's team isn't last year's, and Olson's role will be far different, as well.

With the graduation of three senior state competitors in Willy Scholten, Luke Olson and Weber Bartz, and an influx of freshmen and sophomores, Lincoln went from being the "little brother," Hagen said, to being the leader of a young, albeit talented, team.

"I saw him helping at the range with the swing of a freshman," Hagen said in a phone interview. "I didn't ask him to do it. He just went over and helped the young golfer. ... He's played two years where he wasn't the leader of the team, and now he is called to be the guy."

Assuming such a role means gone are the days of being concerned with just his game.

Lincoln's found early on that he's being asked to simply be more: Be more aware of his teammates and what they are doing, and be equally as focused on continuing his progression as a golfer.

"The previous year, we were all individually working on the stuff we needed to work on," said Lincoln of playing with Scholten, Bartz and his brother Luke. "This is a rebuilding year for our team, and to focus on the potential growth of the team."

And while Lincoln has recalibrated his expectations of the team, he hasn't of himself.

Lincoln ranked eighth in the NWC last year with an 81.1 per-round average. That's not good enough this season, he made clear, with his coach pointing to his competitiveness as possibly his greatest quality.

"If you're going to do something, you're going to be in it to win," Lincoln said. "I knew maybe last year I played pretty well at state, but overall the season didn't go as good as I was hoping. I wanted to get to that next level, and I'm looking at college golf, so I know to get to that level I got to get up early and work at it when nobody else is."

There are still moments, though, when Lincoln is more the young golfer than he is a seasoned veteran.

It's no secret that golf is as much a mental game as it physical, Hagen said, and taming Lincoln's aggressive approach is still a present battle.

In the early portions of his career at Lynden Christian, when the opportunity arose to try for a birdie, Lincoln couldn't resist. The risk wouldn't outweigh the chance to gain a stroke, although more times than not it led to either unnecessarily tough par putts or potential bogeys.

He had several such instances at a tournament last year at the Lake Padden Golf Course when he shot an 84.

"I was looking ahead, which you are never supposed to do," Olson said. "I was looking toward the end wondering how I would end up. Figured it wouldn't be up to my standards, and I ended forcing birdies, getting a little too aggressive off the tee. ... I cost myself four or five strokes."

That's something he has no plans on repeating, and those experiences are ones he hopes to pass along to the younger classes.

Reach Alex Bigelow at alex.bigelow@bellinghamherald.com or call 360-715-2238. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for other Whatcom County sports updates.

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