By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
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MVP: Alex McMenamin, freshman, Sequim — Led Olympic League with 41.0 scoring average. Finished third at Class 2A state tournament.
Brianna Kettel, junior, Sequim — Back to back All-Peninsula selection was sixth in Olympic League with 50.2 scoring mark. District qualifier missed state berth by one stroke.
Kate Haworth, junior, Port Angeles — Season-best round of 50 against Bremerton. Averaged a score of 55.4 in Olympic League play and qualified for West Central District Tournament.
Kailee Price, junior, Sequim — Third on Wolves with 56.5 scoring average. Posted season-best round of 50 against Port Angeles. Qualified for district tournament.
Chloe Brown, senior, Port Angeles — Teamed with Fox to finish second at Duke Streeter Invite. Shot season-best round of 50 against Bremerton. Qualified for district tournament.
Coach of the Year: Jacob Lippold, Port Angeles — New Peninsula Golf Club head pro added head coach to his duties and led a team of 13 golfers this season that included one state participant and two West Central District qualifiers.
But her rapid rise up league leader boards was grounded in hard work and a year-round dedication to the game.
The run of success continued all season long for McMenamin.
She finished as match medalist in six of seven matches for Sequim and shot a personal-best 2-under-par 35 on the front nine at Cedars at Dungeness during a nonleague match with rival Port Angeles.
McMenamin qualified for the state tournament after finishing second at the Olympic League Championship, and ended up earning a third-place medal at the Class 2A state tournament at the Classic Golf Club in Spanaway.
Her accomplishments earned her a share of the Olympic League MVP award and now All-Peninsula MVP honors with Port Angeles senior Dana Fox.
McMenamin enjoyed the back and forth battle with Fox for the league scoring title this season.
“She's someone that would challenge me to play better, plus she was really nice and hit some really good shots,” McMenamin said.
McMenamin's involvement with golf began when her family moved to SunLand in Sequim when she was 6 years old.
She was soon found on the fairways of SunLand Golf & Country Club, learning to play the game with the help of her dad, Rich.
“Golf was fun, I was pretty good at it and it was something I could do with my dad so I kept with it,” McMenamin said.
She started getting more serious about the sport at age 10, and first broke the barrier of 100 in a round in sixth grade.
Her scores kept dropping, breaking 90 in seventh grade and dipping into the 80s on a consistent basis by eighth grade.
It was about that time that McMenamin went with her family for a vacation at Semiahmoo Resort near Blaine and came back with a new golf instructor.
That instructor is Jeff Coston, a former PGA Tour pro who has run the Jeff Coston Academy at Semiahmoo since 1994.
“It was pretty random,” McMenamin said of meeting Coston.
“We were going up for a vacation and my dad had read about him in the paper so he scheduled a lesson.”
Coston is one of the most revered golf instructors in the Pacific Northwest and his lessons soon took root with McMenamin, who started taking regular lessons with Coston at age 13 and now makes the 260-mile round trip about once every two weeks.
Lacking a driver's license at age 15, McMenamin typically travels to Whatcom County with her dad.
“We will usually head up on Saturday mornings and we practice or play after the lesson,” McMenamin said.
She feels putting and chipping is the biggest strength of her game and much of that can be attributed to Coston's influence.
“Jeff is a pretty firm believer in spending a lot of time practicing the short game,” McMenamin said.
“I think it's important,too, so I try to do as much short game practice as I do with the longer stuff.”
McMenamin began breaking 80 with regularity last summer, carding her personal best for 18 holes, an even-par 72 at SunLand.
In August, she won her flight at the Pacific Northwest Girls Junior Amateur at the Links Golf Course in Post Falls, Idaho.
She was 3-0 in the match play portion of the event and won the flight with a birdie out of the sand on the par-5 18th hole.
The steady improvement continued through the fall — golf is a year-round endeavor for McMenamin — and into the spring high school golf season.
After going low with scores of 39 and 38, she notched her nine-hole low of 35 in the first month of the season.
McMenamin pointed it out as one of the biggest highlights from her freshman season.
“The 35 was surprising a little bit,” McMenamin said.
“I was happy to shoot that low; it's what I was working toward, it just came pretty quickly.”
McMenamin mentioned her iron play when asked what she will attempt to work on this summer.
“At state and at the league tournament, I felt my irons were getting away from me a little bit,” McMenamin said.
“I'll need to work on finding the right path to the ball and getting my swing in a groove.”
A full slate of junior tournaments should help her continue to improve.
“I have a tournament scheduled just about every two weeks during the summer,” McMenamin said.