First-year Lynden girls’ golf coach Curt Kramme knew freshman Jade Ming was bringing talent to the Lions. He just didn’t realize how much.
Ming is the younger sister of Emily Ming — Lynden’s top golfer the past two seasons before graduating — and with a fifth-place finish at the Class 2A State Championships in her first season, the former showed she’s bringing just as skilled of a golf game as her elder sibling.
The finish along with her Northwest Conference best 86.2 18-hole scoring average earned her the honor of being selected The Bellingham Herald’s 2015 All-Whatcom County Girls’ Golfer of the Year.
“There was no pressure on her,” Kramme said in a phone interview. “We just wanted her to go play, and she just did an excellent job.”
High school golf proved much different for Ming than junior tournaments and weekend rounds with the family, which tend to get pretty competitive. It was a much more relaxed atmosphere, Ming said in a phone interview.
“It’s not as serious. It’s more fun to get to meet new girls and have fun with them,” Ming said. “I met a lot of girls this year and you see them at the putting green, and they come up to me and say, ‘Hi.’ I thought ‘This is kind of cool.’”
Ming has been playing golf for the past seven years — a product of a “golf family.” Mom, dad and both kids play.
With Emily Ming establishing herself as one of the top golfers in the state last season, finishing 12th at state, there were big shoes to fill atop the Lynden golf program.
But Jade Ming didn’t feel any pressure.
“I would say not so much this year because I’m a freshman,” Ming said. “But you always want to do as good as your sibling did.”
With a strong short game, the ability to block out past holes and a swing that mirrored her older sister’s, Ming wowed the competition in the Northwest Conference all season. At least for those who could tell it was Jade, not Emily.
“Our swings are very similar,” Jade said. “During one of the first couple tournaments, one coach was talking to my mom and asked, ‘So how is Emily doing?’”
By the end of the season, it was clear Jade had established her own identity. She had continued to improve from when she first stepped into the high school team and did so in key areas.
The biggest area of growth was her ability to limit the number of double and triple bogeys, something she showed off at state.
She played 32 of the 36 holes at state without scoring more than a bogey, including finishing with a bogey or less on all 18 holes the first day, when she shot a 79 — a personal best in high school competition.
“She stepped up in the most pressure-packed part of the season,” Kramme said. “To do that at state is pretty remarkable. ... She’s a great young lady to work with and it’s been a joy getting to coach her.”
Ming’s improvement on the course came with being more consistent off the tee, putting it in play and giving her a good shot to the green, where even if she’s on the collar she can let the strongest area of her game take over.
Chipping can easily be called Ming’s expertise. At times, Kramme would joke that he’d rather have Ming on the fringe rather than on the green because of how good she was with a wedge. On the first day of state she got up-and-down six times.
When most people would putt from the fringe, Ming would take out her 54-degree wedge.
“A lot of times, whenever I was close on the fringe or a little bit off the fringe, I would chip,” Ming said. “I felt more comfortable with it, and you do what you’re comfortable with.”
Ming’s game was at such a high level this season, teammates couldn’t challenge her in practice, so Ming took other methods to push herself, including playing games with herself on the course or practicing with the boys’ team.
“She finds ways to be competitive against herself,” Kramme said. “You’re really competing against yourself in golf. You’re not lined up across from somebody, you’re just trying to do as good as you can. It’s really you versus yourself and the golf course.”
Still, Ming is hoping in the next few years, she’ll have some fellow Lions at state with her.
“It’s kind of lonely. You don’t have a team to cheer on, you’re not able to support anyone or have someone support you,” Ming said. “I did have a great coach that helped with that, as well as my mom and sister. The boys came over — Alex (Crabtree) and Ezra (Arneson) — and that was pretty nice too.”
With such a strong freshman year, it’s hard to see where Ming can improve, but a state title isn’t on the minds of Kramme or Ming.
“It’s about being as good as you can be,” Kramme said. “First or fifth, you do your best. That’s why I try to get young athletes to focus on the process. The rest will take care of itself. If your focus is on the end, your mind isn’t in the right spot.”
Ming has promise, and improvement will come with more time on the course. Her freshman year, though, couldn’t have gone better.
Reach Joshua Hart at 360-715-2238 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Golfers the Year
For the 10th year, the Bellingham Herald is proud to celebrate Whatcom County high school student athletes with its All-Whatcom County teams. A look back at the athletes selected All-Whatcom County Girls’ Golfer of the Year:
2006: Paige Rachor, Bellingham
2007: Katie Sharpe, Bellingham
2008: Claire Rachor, Bellingham
2009: Claire Rachor, Bellingham
2010: Jessica Davis, Bellingham
2011: Jenn Paul, Bellingham
2012: Brooke Branigan, Bellingham
2013: Brooke Branigan, Bellingham
2014: Jenn Paul, Bellingham
2015: Jade Ming, Lynden