PORT ANGELES — Call it fate, alignment of the stars or just plain luck, but Dana Fox’s love of volleyball led directly to an even bigger love of golf.
Beth Krause, Fox’s freshman volleyball coach at Port Angeles High School, was taking over the girls golf program that spring and was looking for athletes who could play the sport or at least give it a try.
Fox tentatively raised her hand. She had a set of clubs and had been to the driving range a few times but had not played golf before.
A budding prep girls golf star was born that day.
Fox qualified for state the past three years, improving her performance by 20 places and seven strokes from her sophomore to her junior season.
She claimed 34th at the 2A state tournament at Lake Spanaway Golf Course with an 18-hole score of 197 in 2012 as a sophomore, but improved to a tie for 14th place after shooting 190 at The Classic Golf Club in Spanaway this year as a junior.
That gave Fox the top state finish of any golfer on the North Olympic Peninsula in 2013 and selection as the girls golf All-Peninsula MVP.
“Finishing in the top 15 in state is really pretty good,” Krause said.
And all that within three years of playing golf for the first time.
Fox was a dream student-athlete for Krause from the beginning.
“Dana is extremely coachable, and she works hard,” Krause said.
“She spends a lot of extra time at the golf course.”
Fox immediately showed that she can whack the ball a long ways.
“She’s a natural,” Krause said. “She hits the ball well.”
The one-year improvement of 20 places at state comes from Fox’s improvement in the short game, her coach added.
“Her accuracy with chipping and putting has improved immensely.”
Fox said she concentrated on improving her short game this year in an effort to elevate her game.
“I have always had a pretty good long game,” she said.
Improvement in the short game was the secret to Fox’s improvement at state.
“You can really cut a lot of strokes off with good putting and chipping,” Fox said.
Heading into her final year in high school in 2013-2014, Fox said she plans to keep on improving and top her previous best scores.
“Next year I’m hoping to beat my average from this year,” she said.
Fox averaged 47.0 on nine holes as a junior and she earned medalist honors in several meets.
“I want to get under [an average of] 45, and to be medalist in a few more matches,” she said.
Fox, who has an active lifestyle of volleyball, riding on the Oregon dunes and most recently taking up snowboarding, seems like an unlikely candidate to become a golf star.
The road to golf stardom started when an aunt who lives in Florida gave Fox a set of clubs when Fox was 9 years old.
Fox, a native of Clearwater, Fla., who moved to the North Olympic Peninsula with her family when she was 2, waited until she was a freshman in high school to take up golf.
But once she started, there was no pulling back.
Fox still loves volleyball and plans to keep playing it, but golf definitely is her No. 1 sport.
“Volleyball is more physical — a fun game — but golf is my favorite,” she said.
The 5-foot-8 athlete, a front-row hitter in volleyball, is considering playing golf in college.
“My parents and I have been talking about [playing golf in college], to see if it’s doable for me,” Fox said.
“I don’t want it to interfere with my college major.”
That major will be engineering (“I’m leaning more toward civil engineering,” she said.)
“Dana is a good student,” Krause said. “Grades are really important to her.”
Fox has an impressive 3.6 grade-point average, but it comes with a price.
“Getting good grades has been difficult while playing two sports,” Fox said.
That’s where her parents’ advice comes in as Fox decides how much to heap onto her college plate.
But that decision is nearly a year away as Fox prepares to finish her prep golf career on a high note.
It won’t be luck or fate, though, that propels Fox toward the top levels in state competition.It will be a lot of hard work and time spent on the golf course.