In one of Lynden’s boys’ golf team’s early-season practices, junior Alex Crabtree shot under par for the first time. But the humble golfer didn’t gloat or really show much excitement at all.
He watched the rest of the team finish their rounds and approached coach Russ Dorr an hour later, asking if he could keep the scorecard he had turned into the coach.
“I didn’t think much of it until I looked at the number on the card — 1-under,” Dorr said in a phone interview. “He doesn’t blow his own horn. First and foremost, he’s a team guy. People see that. It’s not all about him.”
And that’s probably what has made Crabtree such a big part of Lynden’s programs.
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It’s not the fact he can shoot ridiculously low scores or the fact he finished 23rd at the Class 2A State Tournament last season.
“He’s not a hollerer. You watch him work, he’s humble,” Dorr said. “He’s a hardworking man with a focus on the end result.”
He also has the unique ability to handle adversity. On the second day of state last year, Crabtree shot an 11-over on the front nine.
In golf, things can snowball quickly and it appeared Crabtree was having one of those days.
But Crabtree isn’t like most golfers, let alone a high school golfer.
The then-sophomore responded with an even-par back nine to finish with an 84, which was enough to give Lynden a fourth-place team finish despite just two golfers participating at state — the other being fifth-place finisher Ezra Arneson.
“I just said, ‘Well, I can’t go down from here,’” Crabtree said in a phone interview. “I played my heart out and did the best I could on the back nine. It worked out.”
That ability to battle through tough days and tough courses showed again in Lynden’s season-opening tournament this year.
On a wet and windy day, Crabtree opened the season with a 74, impressive no matter the time of year and darn near spectacular for a season-opener in harsh conditions.
“He can block out adversity and come back from it. Not every kid can do that,” Dorr said. “It’s a tough game, golf can really beat you up. He doesn’t allow that to happen.”
Like a typical golfer, though, things can always get better. It’s perhaps the golfer’s curse — the game can never be perfected, merely played.
And after the past two seasons, in which Crabtree wasn’t even the best golfer on his own team, he was hungry to improve.
“He wants to play right along with his teammate. ... He’s looked up to Ezra (Arneson). Ezra has been that guy and he wants to be parallel to him,” Dorr said. “He’s worked really hard and come along way. Eventually, the game is going to give back to you. He’s consistently given to the game and he’s having fun with that.”
And while the competition between the two can get pretty fiery at times, two golfers playing at an elite level is a luxury few teams have.
“We push ourselves back and forth. He beats me and I’ll beat him. But all that matters is we get ourselves better,” Crabtree said. “I attribute a lot of my game to Ezra. He’s pushed me to be better. If he wouldn’t have come to Lynden I wouldn’t know that I’d be where I am.”
With those two golfers both capable of breaking par on any day, which puts them likely among the top 15 golfers in the state, Lynden has the top-end talent to compete for a top-three team spot at the 2A level, if not a state championship.