Experience here, youth there on links

Bremerton’s five-member girls golf team makes up for what it lacks in roster size with an extra-large desire to have fun on the links.

Two seniors, three freshmen make up girls golf squad.

Bremerton’s five-member girls golf team makes up for what it lacks in roster size with an extra-large desire to have fun on the links.

“We’re not out here trying to make the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association),” coach Emily Crawford joked during a Tuesday practice. “We’re just trying to have fun and improve our game.”

And while the Lady Knights (1-2) have managed just one victory on the year, defeating Olympic League rival Klahowya in the March 13 season opener, Crawford remains pleased with her team’s progress and is optimistic about the remainder of the season.

“So far, the season’s going well,” she said. “We haven’t done as well as I would have liked, but we’ve been having a good time.”

Entering the 2008 season only two of the Lady Knights’ golfers had substantial playing experience — seniors Aimee Connolly and Hannah Crawford — and the rest were new to the game, having never stepped on a golf course, at least competitively.

“Half of the team hadn’t played before,” Crawford said of the original ‘08 roster, now trimmed to five due to academic problems.

Each of the three remaining players are freshmen. But Crawford said the freshmen have learned the game quickly, honing newly acquired skills, making coaching the team an enjoyable experience.

“It’s really interesting,” Crawford said of coaching a freshmen-loaded team. “It’s kind of fun, because they don’t have the bad habits some of the experienced players (may) have.”

Connolly, a four-year member of the team, echoed her coach’s sentiment.

“It’s been a lot of fun having freshmen on the team. They bring an energy,” she said. “I give them pointers.”

Fundamentally sound golf requires poise under pressure, Connolly said. Conquering the game’s mental hurdles has proved a challenge for the entire team, she said.

“The biggest challenge is it’s one of those games where one day you’re really good, but the next you’re really bad. It just depends on the day,” she explained. “As a team, we definitely have a lot of talent.”

Crawford added that the team’s primary focus has been to improve its short game, especially on the green where putting has proved a challenge.

“We’ve been working a lot on shortening our putting distances,” she said. “They need to slow it down a little bit (on the green), slow that power. But they’ve been doing well teeing off, and on the fairway.”

Crawford understands winning every match, especially with such a young team, is an unrealistic goal. Instead, she reminds her players to enjoy the game.

“We are lucky to play here. This is one of the top courses in the Northwest,” she said of Gold Mountain Golf Complex, where the Lady Knights tee off for home matches.

“The most important thing to get out there is that we’re still a new team,” Crawford continued. “We’re not (only) looking to win games, we’re looking to improve.”

The Lady Knights were in action Thursday against Port Townsend, but results were not available at press time.