High School Sports

North Thurston’s Audrey Marlatt trusts her golf game

Audrey Marlatt has learned to trust — in her golf clubs, in her process, in her game, in herself.

In turn, she is trusted to lead the North Thurston Rams as the ultimate team player in a sport that is as individual as they come once you tee up the golf ball.

Marlatt can also be relied on to make it to state — her appearance at the state Class 3A tournament beginning Wednesday at Horn Rapids Golf Course in Richland is her fourth state trip in four years of high school golf.

“It’s much different than any team sport,” Marlatt said. “You’re out there playing by yourself. You don’t have to depend on anybody else.

“I like that I hold myself accountable for everything I do out there.”

At the recent Narrows League 3A tournament, Marlatt shot a personal-record 75 on the second day at Lake Spanaway Golf Course to repeat as medalist.

She’ll have company at state — junior teammate Alyssa Bryan placed fifth at the Narrows tournament to earn a berth at Horn Rapids. Bryan and her dad visited Richland to play the golf course last weekend; Marlatt will see it for the first time this week.

North Thurston coach Tim Brown said Marlatt was medalist, too, in every dual match the Rams played this year. Consistency carried her through.

“The strength of her game is she doesn’t have weaknesses,” Brown said. “She can drive it, her irons are good, she’s good with the putter.”

Marlatt was first exposed to the game at 7 by her grandfather, James Cobb. In high school, she’s improved her stroke average every season since she came in as a freshman and looked up to Olivia Lowe, then a sophomore and the Rams’ best player.

Lowe helped her get comfortable with high school golf, Marlatt said, and the two became good friends, only to see Lowe transfer out of state. Lowe plays college golf now for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, and the two stay in touch with occasional texts.

The role of team leader fell naturally to Marlatt, and it’s not all about golf, Brown said.

“She’s grown into our Mrs. Mom for the team,” he said, “making sure about uniforms, snacks, pictures, every little detail.”

Marlatt holds down a part-time job at Indian Summer Country Club — greeting members, cleaning carts, working on the driving range. She tutors Brown’s daughter in math. She’s a top student, and will attend the University of Oregon in the fall.

She wasn’t recruited to Oregon for golf, but she’s looking at walking on the Ducks’ golf team. Brown has made calls on her behalf.

“I just want a shot,” she said. “All they can do is say no.”

You never know, Brown said: “Her best golf is in front of her.”

Coach and athlete hope her best state tournament is this week at Horn Rapids. Marlatt said she feels more solid this year heading to state, and she gives much of the credit to her time with local golf instructor Kris Swanson.

“I wish I would have been learning from him way back,” she said. “He’s worked wonders on my game.”

For instance, on putting: “Last year, I didn’t have anything special that I would do when I was putting.”

Now, she has a process: “This year I line up and look at everything. You want to know where it’s going to go, how fast it’s going to go.”

As a ninth grader in 2012, she didn’t make the cut after the first day at the Class 2A state tournament. As a sophomore, she placed 23rd in the 3A tournament, and last year she improved a notch to 22nd.

Her work with Swanson — as much about visualization, process and attitude as anything golf-specific — applies to every part of her game, and it’s bumped her confidence as she pursues her goal of placing in the top eight at state.

“I’ve come a whole 360, just so much more knowing what I’m doing when I do something wrong, and know how to fix it, and not worry about it. And just trust it,” she said.