RIDGEFIELD — Golf is by its nature an individual sport – there’s no such thing as an “assist” – but it doesn’t hurt to be surrounded by people who also love the game.
For Alec Martinson, a Shelton High senior, he grew up in a golf family. And starting Tuesday, at Tri-Mountain Golf Course near Vancouver, he’ll be chasing a state Class 3A title with most, if not all, of his Highclimber teammates in tow.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge,” Martinson said Monday, after a practice round at Tri-Mountain. “The whole team is.”
Martinson is the Narrows League 3A champion, and led a 1-2-3 Shelton finish at the Narrows tournament at Lake Spanaway. Last week, he led the way for four of his teammates – and a potential fifth – to qualify for state at the West Central District tournament at Gold Mountain in Bremerton.
Senior Zach Lund, junior Grant Cation, senior Marcus Browning and sophomore Mitchell DeAndre all qualified for state with top-10 finishes at Gold Mountain, and a fifth Highclimber – senior John Pentony – is the first alternate to state after losing in a playoff for the final individual spot.
“With five people here, we feel like we have a pretty good chance of winning the state title,” Martinson said.
Martinson, 18, learned the game from his father, Jim, and played his first golf tournament at 8. His mother, Lorna, is the Shelton girls golf coach.
His sister, Caral, who played at Shelton and in three different college programs, now works at Gold Mountain with an eye toward LPGA professional certification.
Alec Martinson played basketball in junior high and early high school, but never strayed far from golf, his first love.
“There’s something about it,” he said. “It’s quiet … it’s just you and the course sometimes. I like how competitive it is … it’s just fun.”
Martinson is long off the tee, he said, which puts him in good shape for easier approaches. He’s been hitting a fade lately with his driver, which works well at Tri-Mountain with a number of doglegs to the right.
He and his teammates, who have grown used to narrow landing areas at the team’s home course – Alderbrook in Union – appreciate the more generous
fairways at Tri-Mountain. Three of the par-5s – 7, 9 and 13 – on the layout offer eagle opportunities with a decent tee shot, he said.
The greens are smooth, and mowing and rolling scheduled for Tuesday morning will make them play even quicker, which he prefers.
“It sets up well,” he said. “I’m feeling pretty confident right now.”
His golfing family has taught him that the mental side of the game is paramount. A bad shot is a bad shot, but an important early lesson, he said, was learning that getting upset can make the next shot even more difficult.
“You can destroy a whole round,” he said.
“That’s probably one of the most important things: just be respectful of the game.”
Martinson will have opportunities to play college golf. He’s looking at Western New Mexico University in Silver City, N.M., and Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y. He plans to study business management and see how far the game of golf can take him.
“Hopefully in the next couple weeks I’ll make a college commitment somewhere,” he said.
This week, he’s got his family for support and his band of Highclimber brothers playing with him.
So, in that regard, it is a team sport, even if there’s nobody on the course to help him swing a club.
Last year, Shelton was a Class 4A school, but the 3A tournament is just as competitive (and maybe even more so, Martinson said). And the game is the same: You still have to put the golf ball in the hole.
Says Martinson: “It’s not going to do it on its own.”