Tolman eyes state after topping league

POULSBO — Andy Tolman used to think that golf was a simple game, but the impression didn’t last long.

POULSBO — Andy Tolman used to think that golf was a simple game, but the impression didn’t last long.

When he was young, Tolman would go golfing with his uncle, Steve Hunt, and spend his time whacking golf balls toward the sky.

“It seemed easy at first,” Tolman said. “You hit the ball, and it goes into the air. Then you start playing and realize it’s not easy.”

The game may not have gotten any easier for Tolman, but he made it seem effortless last weekend as he won the 4A Narrows League tournament at Lake Spanaway Golf Course. Tolman made par on during a one-hole playoff to wrestle the tournament title away from Eric Ahn of Bellarmine Prep.

The hole included a shot that Tolman calls the best he made all year: A 215-yard drive, hit with a four iron, that put him from the right rough to the green.

“It’s a shot most human beings don’t even think about taking,” North Kitsap Head Coach Tom Harney said later.

Both Tolman and Harney said that Ahn seemed rattled by the shot — “I think he got ruffled or something,” Tolman said.

Ahn bogeyed. Tolman made par. Both will move on to the state tournament beginning May 28 in Tri-Cities.

“It’s state,” Tolman said. “At the beginning of the year, it’s where you want to end it. And I’ll end it there.”

The University of Idaho-bound senior is looking forward to the tournament, where teammate Paul Harney, who qualified as an alternate, will join him and compete if someone else can’t.

Tolman may have thought golf seemed easy when he started, but it was the difficulties inherent to the game that attracted him later.

“There’s no easy part of the game,” he said. “There are so many things in your swing that can go wrong… you’re playing against the elements more than you are against other teams.”

The elements were especially challenging at the league tournament, where golfers were warmed by sun, dampened by rain and pelted by hail.

“It was insane — it was crazy,” he said.

At one point Tolman and his teammates had to duck into the course’s restaurant to escape the hail.

Tolman took up golf relatively late, at 12 or 13. He would practice once a week, but two years ago, when he and his father Jeff joined Kitsap Golf & Country Club, he upped the practice sessions to six times a week. He went into the 2003 season looking forward to having fun with teammates Harney, Jay Hadley, Mike Barker, Daniel Gallagher and Bjorn Bonholzer.

He golfed well at times, and tied a team record for most points (39) in a single match when the Vikings played Gig Harbor.

Now Tolman is hoping for an equally impressive end to his season.

“My game has showed spurts of being good,” he said. “I hope it’s back.”

If nothing else, Tolman can call on memories of his second shot in the league tournament.

“I hit it so good,” he said, recalling. “I can still see it.”