By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
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With a senior-laden squad and a home-course advantage in the always tough White Horse Golf Course in Kingston, the Buccaneers appear to be the league favorite again this season.
One weapon Kingston lacks, however, is Sequim freshman Alex McMenamin.
McMenamin has had a blistering start to the 2014 golf season, recording a nine-hole 42 against Central Kitsap and an even better 39 versus Klahowya last week in matches at Cedars at Dungeness in Sequim.
Central Kitsap senior Katie Lee, a UCLA commit who will join her sister Erynne on the Bruins women's golf team, bested McMenamin by one stroke in that match.
So we're talking a possible NCAA Division I golf talent just beginning her high school career here in our midst.
Her swing coach, former PGA Tour pro Jeff Coston, who teaches out of Semiahmoo in Blaine, told Inside Golf in December that McMenamin “not only has a wonderful name but also will be the premier high school golfer in the state in a couple of years.”
Might be worth a trip out to a high school golf match this year or in following years to see this meteor rise.
Port Angeles girls
■ Girls coach: Peninsula Golf Club head pro Jacob Lippold, first year.
■ Last year: The Roughriders finished 5-3 in Olympic League play, and returning senior Dana Fox played at state for the third consecutive season, finishing tied for 14th place.
■ Top returners: Dana Fox, senior. Fox recently signed a letter of intent to play junior college golf for Bellevue College.
Always explosive distance-wise off the tee and with her irons, Fox is looking to improve on her short game and dial things in, according to Lippold.
The Roughriders will start the season without junior Kate Haworth and sophomore Maddie Boe.
Haworth sprained an ankle and Boe broke her collarbone while playing soccer, but the pair are already back putting and chipping, and Lippold thinks both will contribute later on this season.
Other returners include Chloe Brown, senior; Kylee Jeffers, senior; Brittany McBride, senior; Greta Gieseke, sophomore; Monica Gasper, sophomore; Amanda Davis, sophomore.
Top Newcomer: Hannah Almaden, sophomore. Showing quite a bit of promise early on.
■ Outlook: Fox should make state again and a finish in the top 5-10 places is attainable.
Haworth was showing Lippold state potential before her injury.
“She hits the ball far enough off the tee so with some instruction, I think that's possible,” Lippold said.
He also mentioned Chloe Brown as a possible state qualifier.
Brown recently hit for 53 at Cedars.
Lippold has spent some early practice time working on getting some of his younger players squared away with the right equipment.
“Some of the kids came in with their grandpa's irons, so I've been helping them get lighter, shorter and newer equipment,” he said.
Port Angeles will likely finish in the Olympic League's top five and if Haworth and Boe can come back quickly, a top-three finish is possible.
■ Coach: Cedars at Dungeness head pro, Garrett Smithson, eighth year.
■ Last year: Sequim finished in second place with a 6-1-1 Olympic League mark behind Kingston.
Departed senior Elisa Sallee missed the cut at the state tournament while Maddy Fisher also played at state last season but decided not to compete this season.
■ Top Returners: An ACL tear late in the basketball season will sideline junior Caitlin Stofferahn, a district competitor last year, all season.
Other Sequim returners include juniors Kailee Price, Cecilee Wech and Brianna Kettel.
Price and Wech are team captains and bring leadership and good morale to the squad, according to Smithson.
Sophomore Megan O'Mera, daughter of area golf instructor Kelly O'Mera, played in one varsity match last year and is looking to improve in all facets of her game this season.
■ Top Newcomers: McMenamin.
“This is going to be an unbelievable ride here with Alex, she has the chance to be pretty special,” Smithson said.
He and Coston recently spoke, and Smithson asked where he should focus his coaching efforts this year.
“One part we can always work on is touch and feel and getting the ball in the hole,” Smithson said.
“She's spending a ton of time at the pitching, chipping and putting area, while some of the other girls are working on the full swing.”
McMenamin won her flight at the Pacific Northwest Golf Association's Junior Amateur this past summer.
“Coston has seen it all and he thinks she may be one of the best female golfers from the Pacific Northwest,” Smithson said.
■ Outlook: Smithson has an individual goal for all of his players: shoot five strokes better than they did in their first competitive outing of the year at least once this season.
“Team-wise, we have a chance to win the Olympic League title. Kingston is pretty deep and we play them there the last match of the season,” Smithson said.
“I think we may go into that last match undefeated and that one will settle it.”
If McMenamin can keep up this hot start, a state appearance and a high finish is likely.
“Alex has a really good chance to go and make noise at state,” Smithson said.
“She's already tourney tested and been experimenting with pressure golf so I don't see her going to state and being awestruck.”
The Redskins have one girls player, sophomore Greta Gamble.
“She's somewhat of a beginner, definitely athletic and it's going to be fun to see what she does through the season,” Port Townsend head coach Gabriel Tonan said.
“We've been going through and doing swing work and kind of relearning some things.”
Hole in one carded
Monte Hegel of Port Angeles carded his first career ace at Cedars at Dungeness on March 14.
Hegel earned the single on the 133-yard par-3 eighth hole with his 9-iron and a Titleist Pro V-1
The shot was witnessed by John Rudder of Port Angeles and a gentleman named Keith (no last name provided) from Seattle.
Roberts hits first
Ian Roberts earned his first career hole-in-one on the 166-yard par-3 No. 14 at Peninsula Golf Club on March 1.
Roberts used a hybrid club and the shot was witnessed by Greg Shield and Colleen Cunningham.
Golf columnist Michael Carman can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or firstname.lastname@example.org.