Certainly, there are bigger subjects these days than whether a golfer is a real athlete.
There are good athletes in other sports who become good golfers. Yet there seem to be a lot of athletic people who struggle with the game – Charles Barkley is far from the only example.
In the end it doesn’t matter – if you like the game, it doesn’t matter whether golf is a “sport,” or a walk in the park, or just a drinking game.
The subject came up recently when Kevin Bishop, the men’s golf coach at Saint Martin’s University, said anybody who doubts the athleticism of golfers ought to try the 36-hole first day of the 54-hole Saint Martin’s Invitational, which tees off Friday at Olympia Country and Golf Club.
The Saints won their own invitational last year, but Bishop said the achievement comes with an asterisk: the tournament totaled 36 holes in two days. Bishop was glad to be able to reinstate the 54-hole format for the tournament.
OCGC is a tough golf course, particularly from the tips, and it has some decent elevation changes. College golfers carry their own bags.
Granted, these are young men, strong and in shape. In a word, athletic. They can handle it.
The 17-team invitational is the opener for the Saints’ fall competitive season. Other teams in the field are Northwest Nazarene, Pacific Lutheran, Puget Sound, Seattle University, Western Washington, Concordia, University of British Columbia, Hawaii Hilo, Northwest Christian, Whitworth, University of Victoria, Dixie State (from St. George, Utah), Simon Fraser, Chico State, Academy of Art University (San Francisco) and Montana State-Billings.
Last year, Zach Dietz led the Saints to victory in their own invitational at the Golf Club at Hawks Prairie. Dietz shot 69 on the second day (140 overall) to earn medalist honors, and the Saints overcame a seven-stroke deficit after day one to win the team title with a 583 total, three shots clear of second-place Cal State Monterey Bay.
Dietz, a junior from Jerome, Idaho, returns for the Saints, along with Michael Jaeger, a sophomore from Snohomish; Jack Whealdon, a sophomore from Ilwaco; and three local Black Hills High products – seniors Steven Cable, Kevin Jech and Sheldon Prante.
Two transfers join the team this season: Tyler Kanda, a former Capital High golfer who previously attended South Puget Sound Community College, and Matt Epstein, of Monroe High School and Bellevue College.
John Eisentrout, a former Saints golfer, returns to the program this season as an assistant coach, along with Steve Garrett.
Bishop and his guys will have a day of rest and travel before teeing it up Sept. 27 in Bellingham at the 39th annual Western Washington University Invitational at Bellingham Golf and Country Club. As with the Saints’ tournament, the teams play 36 the first day of two.
“That’s two D-II tournaments in five days, without having to spend a lot of money,” Bishop said.
And that’s a lot of golf, whether you’re an athlete or just a golfer.
SMU WOMEN’S INVITATIONAL
Bob Grisham, the Saint Martin’s athletic director, is in his seventh season as the school’s women’s golf coach.
Grisham’s Saints host an invitational tournament of their own Oct. 4-5, also at OCGC. Eight women’s teams are in the field: Western Washington, Cal State East Bay, Simon Fraser, University of Victoria, University of British Columbia, and Puget Sound.
The Saints’ roster includes three South Sound players: Felicia Barnett, a sophomore from Shelton; Mary Fontenot, a sophomore from Black Hills High; and Kimberly Vivian, a sophomore from Timberline High.
Also competing for the travel team will be Elizabeth Ferry, a sophomore from El Cajon, Calif; Jennifer Kent, a junior from Tukwila’s Foster High; Karly Olsen, a junior from Sehome High in Bellingham; and Amanda Wittmier, a freshman from Ferndale.
Saint Martin’s opens its fall season Sept. 27-28 at the Grand Canyon University Invitational at Coldwater Golf Club in Avondale, Ariz.
Olympia freelance writer Bart Potter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org