A striking calmness: Bellingham's Roth masters consistent approach in stellar junior season

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 14, 2014 

0615 All-Whatcom BGLF

The Bellingham Herald's All-Whatcom County Boys' Golf Player of the Year is Bellingham's Cody Roth. Photographed on Wednesday, June 11, 2014 in Bellingham, Wash.

ANDY BRONSON — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

Cody Roth's q uiet, soft-spoken demeanor isn't a reflection of his golf game.

Yes, the Bellingham High School junior isn't a domineering character gallivanting around the course like John Daly. The numbers he posted, though, were quite the opposite - especially what he did at the Class 2A State Boys' Golf Tournament at Chambers Bay, the hosting course of the 2015 U.S Open.

Roth's two-day 144 (73-71) earned him a tie for second place with Ephrata's Aaron Whalen, leading the way as the Red Raiders easily took home the Class 2A state title combined with the efforts of sophomore Nick Nolan, junior Rees Kruhlak and senior Taylor Paul - all of whom finished in the top 29 of the field.

"The team dominance was pretty cool," Roth said in a phone interview. "It's fun to share that with the team. Something I will remember forever. It's what we had in mind all season."

Roth's own dominance wasn't to be forgotten, either, earning him The Bellingham Herald's All-Whatcom County Boy's Golfer of the Year honor after guiding Bellingham to a Northwest Conference, bi-district and state title. He was also chosen by the coaches as the All-NWC Player of the Year after leading the league with a per-round 71.6 average.

Red Raiders coach David Bobillot was the All-Whatcom County Boys' Golf Coach of the Year, leading four golfers and an alternate to the state tournament.

To appreciate Roth's state run is to appreciate the difficulties it presented him just a year ago as a sophomore.

Chambers Bay, a course designed to disrupt the most seasoned of golfers, did so to Roth with a two-day 167 (82-85), 23 shots worse than his performances as a junior.

"Last year it (Chambers Bay) just had my number," he said. "I played poorly. I wasn't hitting it as well last year. ... Playing at state is always nerve racking and dealing with nerves, which I think I do a lot better now."

In comparison to a year ago, Roth said his game is much more polished, a testament to how much time he spends practicing his trade. That dedication drew the eye of his teammate, senior captain Taylor Paul, who praised Roth's work ethic.

"He practices close to every day throughout the winter, even if it's dumping rain," Paul said in a phone interview.

There's little to this point Roth hasn't experienced on the golf course. Sometimes, though, surprises do in fact happen. Roth experienced such a moment at the par-3, 218-yard 17th hole during the final round at state.

Seventeen, nicknamed "Derailed" due to the railroad running along the right side of the entire fairway, offers a straight-away hole location cascaded by sand traps on either side. Given the somewhat short distance, Roth lofted his shot high into the wind, watching the ball strike down on the green, rolling softly into the hole for his first-ever ace.

"It came off perfectly. It was one of those that actually went in," Roth said. "Got a little lucky. I thought it would be close. I don't think I thought it would go in until it went in. I just tried to stay calm because I had one more hole to go."

Paul, who had just concluded his round, made his way up to 17 just as Roth had sunk the hole-in-one.

"That's awesome," said Paul of witnessing Roth's first ace. "It was cool to be around. Everyone was happy."

Roth reaped the rewards of his labor this past season.

Not only did he pace the conference with a 71.6 per-round average, far improved from his 77.2 average last season, but he did so with a level of consistency he lacked as a sophomore. His scores ranged from 70 to 76, never having a stray round all year.

"I just understand my swing and what works for me and what doesn't," he said. "Rhythm and staying within myself and shooting shots I know I can hit. It's nothing too complicated. The tempo of the golf swing and swinging slowly."

The lower scores and steadier play, Roth added, benefitted from a more isolated focus. In years past, Roth was in tune with the scores of his competition. That exposure was something he wanted to limit this season, inhabiting more of a bubble-like mentality. He had no such trouble doing that at state, gladly wrapping his hands around the team title he helped Bellingham achieve.

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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