High School Sports

Lynden’s Dorr makes final trip to state with program he started

Lynden’s Tim Feenstra pats the back of coach Russ Dorr, who enjoys a special moment holding the first-place team award the Lions won during the 2001 Class 3A Boys’ State Golf Tournament at Lake Padden Golf Course in Bellingham. It was Dorr's first championship as Lynden's coach. Feenstra shot 141 for the tournament to win the state title.
Lynden’s Tim Feenstra pats the back of coach Russ Dorr, who enjoys a special moment holding the first-place team award the Lions won during the 2001 Class 3A Boys’ State Golf Tournament at Lake Padden Golf Course in Bellingham. It was Dorr's first championship as Lynden's coach. Feenstra shot 141 for the tournament to win the state title. The Bellingham Herald

Longtime area coach Brad Stephan approached Russ Dorr with a vision more than 20 years ago.

Stephan, who was good high school friends with Dorr, was finishing up serving the Marines while stationed in Hawaii. He wanted to come back home to Lynden, and he’d be bringing his son, Bo Stephan, who was an exceptional golf talent.

There was only one problem: Lynden High School didn’t have a golf program in the early 1990s.

“’We got a really talented eighth grade golfer in Hawaii playing a high level of golf,’” said Dorr of what Brad told him. “He had nowhere to play when he came home. My job at the time allowed me time wise to be involved.”

Dorr committed to being Lynden’s coach but needed approval from the school board, and he needed to work something out with Homestead Golf and Country Club.

The school board approved the program, and Homestead was paramount, allowing golfers to play free of charge.

Now 22 years later Dorr is taking his final group of Lions to the state tournament, and Lynden golf’s transformation from non-existent to a Whatcom County traditional power has been remarkable.

Giving Dorr one more trip to the state tournament are seniors Ezra Arneson and Alex Crabtree. Arneson tees off at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 24, at Horn Rapids Golf Course in Richland, while Crabtree tees off at 10:48 a.m.

Arneson and Crabtree, by themselves, helped Lynden place fourth in state two years ago when Arneson finished fifth and Crabtree took 23rd. Last season the duo placed Lynden third with another fifth-place finish by Arneson and a ninth-place finish by Crabtree.

“We got to state, and now it’s a new season,” Dorr said. “Alex and Ezra are great friends, and they’ll look at each other and say, ‘Let’s get it done.’ It will be interesting to see how the story ends.”

No matter how Dorr’s final chapter wraps up, he and his golfers have accomplished plenty during Dorr’s 22 years leading the Lions’ golf team.

Lynden has won league titles, district championships, a number of team trophies and earned a state championship at the Class 3A level in 2001 and a 2A title in 2009 all with one man at the helm.

Dorr, who originally planned to coach for about three years and has come close to walking away several times, said he faced some early obstacles building the program from its foundation.

“We sold a lot of hot dogs,” Dorr joked. “Getting off the ground was interesting. We didn’t have the depth the first couple of years. We did have a couple of talented kids who competed at a high level. There were athletes out there, and they learned they could become a good team. After those first couple of years, all of a sudden we’re playing at the league’s highest level.”

Tim Feenstra was a perfect example. He won an individual title on Lynden’s 2001 state title team and transitioned from baseball to golf in high school.

What Dorr helped infuse into his golfers was a strong work ethic. His teams would practice two, three, four hours at Homestead if need be. And when sunlight went away, Homestead’s employees turned on parking lot lights so kids could spend extra time on the putting greens.

“Some kids didn’t come out, because it was too much,” Dorr said. “But to be successful, that is what we had to do.”

Dorr’s decision to step away was simple. He didn’t want to overstay his time and felt like it was someone else’s turn to take over the program.

But he said his time has left him is countless cherished memories.

“I just want to say a very humble thank you for the opportunity to make a difference,” Dorr said. “Family, school, golf: That’s been my mantra all these years, and I ended up with all these exceptional kids. I was going to quit 10-15 years ago, but they kept coming. I saw this (group) of kids, community and family that I wanted to be involved with. I had the opportunity to make a difference, and I couldn’t let it go.”

State golf tournaments

CLASS 3A BOYS

Site: Creek at Qualchan Golf Course, Spokane

Tuesday’s first tee time: 7:30 a.m.

CLASS 3A GIRLS

Site: Indian Canyon Golf Course, Spokane

Tuesday’s first tee time: 7:30 a.m.

CLASS 2A BOYS

Site: Horn Rapids Golf Course, Richland

Tuesday’s first tee time: 7:30 a.m.

CLASS 2A GIRLS

Site: Columbia Point Golf Course, Richland

Tuesday’s first tee time: 7:30 a.m.

CLASS 1A BOYS

Site: Liberty Lake Golf Course, Spokane

Tuesday’s first tee time: 7:30 a.m.

CLASS 1A GIRLS

Site: Liberty Lake Golf Course, Spokane

Tuesday’s first tee time: 11:40 a.m.

Whatcom County state golfers

CLASS 3A BOYS

Golfer

School

Dane Larsen

Ferndale

Keenan Souve

Ferndale

CLASS 3A GIRLS

Golfer

School

Jillian Anderson

Ferndale

Maeson Mullins

Ferndale

CLASS 2A BOYS

Golfer

School

Ezra Arneson

Lynden

Alex Crabtree

Lynden

Nick Nolan

Bellingham

Zach Nolan

Bellingham

Kyle Reilly

Sehome

Andy Werner

Sehome

CLASS 2A GIRLS

Golfer

School

Alex Ferrier

Bellingham

Jordan Flannery

Squalicum

Christina Kim

Squalicum

Emma Lochridge

Bellingham

Jade Ming

Lynden

Sophia Schmidt

Bellingham

Melanie Zehnder

Squalcium

CLASS 1A BOYS

Golfer

School

Mason Bass

Mount Baker

AJ Hawley

Mount Baker

Kaden Sterk

Lynden Christian

Erik Vander Velden

Lynden Christian

CLASS 1A GIRLS

Golfer

School

Clara Bergman

Mount Baker

Gemma Wilson

Mount Baker

Bria Henthorn

Mount Baker

SOURCE: WIAA.com

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