Squalicum girls’ golfer Christina Kim first picked up the clubs her freshman year. She hoped the sport would be a good hobby she could play with her father and uncle.
A little more than a year later, Kim was in the Class 2A State Tournament and competing for a spot in the second day, where she could place and earn points for her team.
The quick turnaround from a new face on the golf course to a successful golfer is rather unheralded in a sport some people take years to become good at but Kim had to start playing well in a hurry.
She had fallen in love with the sport and nobody wants to be bad at something they love.
“I always love a challenge, and it’s definitely a mentally and physically challenging game,” Kim said in a phone interview. “I started taking private lessons and trying to get my scores down because I saw I had the capability of going somewhere.”
Go somewhere, she did — to the state tournament.
She almost made the second day and would have if it wasn’t for an unfortunate penalty.
On one hole, Kim’s playing partner said she teed the ball up incorrectly, saying the ball was slightly in front of the teeing markers. Kim thought it was even, but took the two-stroke penalty assessed to her.
Only later did she find out that she had missed the cut by one stroke, and if not for the two-stroke penalty would be playing on the second day with her teammate Maddi Atwood-Knudson.
“That was heartbreaking because of the way it happened,” Squalicum coach Chad Herman said in a phone interview. “She took the high road and didn’t argue it. ... I just told her ‘This is a learning experience for you.’”
And Kim has definitely learned plenty.
“Well, maybe, watch my ball placement a little better,” Kim joked. “But it really taught me to focus more on the little things. I never really did before, it was just habitual things. Overall, definitely the stress from it is a lot different than a regular match. I learned how to calm myself.”
While Kim didn’t get another day playing the course, she got to watch Atwood-Knudson score a 95 on the second day of the tournament to finish 16th and give Squalicum a ninth-place team finish.
Watching her teammate provided more than enough reason for Kim to go out all offseason and work at her game so she could be where Atwood-Knudson was.
Kim played four times a week during the summer, oftentimes starting at dawn, and once school started up, she got out to the links once a week.
“They kind of bonded last year. ... On day two, Christina was really excited for her. It was special for Christina to see what she could also accomplish,” Herman said. “She wants to be right there with her.”
That connection has extended into this season and gives Squalicum an excellent 1-2 punch.
It’s not particularly common in girls’ golf to have your top two golfers at the same skill level, aside from maybe the top five or six teams in the state. With both being so close in skill level, they can each push each other to be better.
“The nice thing about those two is you never know on any given day which one will score the best,” Herman said.
Still, Atwood-Knudson is the senior leader and Kim is more than content letting her be that captain and have that No. 1 position.
“She definitely was an idol for me, she still is,” Kim said. “She’s so determined in her golf game. She’s such a good friend. I know she’s there on and off the golf course. Seeing her practice has really motivated me.”
Both playing on the final day would be a huge success, not only for the individuals but for Squalicum.