KENNEWICK - The Sunnyside High School boys golf team may have finished dead last at yesterday's seven-school league opener, but based on how the Grizzly linksters are improving, it shouldn't be long before they're out of the cellar.
Facing a rebuilding year, with junior Justin Bos the lone exception, Sunnyside heads into the spring campaign with all first-year players. It shouldn't be long, however, according to Grizzly Coach Glenn Braman, before all the novices begin making waves.
"The work ethics each of our kids have, it's unbelievable," said Braman. "They all want to get better, and the work they've been putting in the last couple of weeks is already showing."
Junior A.J. Visser, said Braman, is a prime example. At yesterday's Columbia Basin League 3A match at Kennewick's Canyon Lakes Golf Course, Visser shaved about 20 strokes off what he was shooting the previous week. He toured Canyon Lakes' front nine with a 57, shaving four strokes off that score on the back side for an overall 110.
"That was really good for him," said Braman. "The improvement he's shown from just a few weeks ago is amazing."
Junior Joseph Villanueva's performance Thursday afternoon also made Braman marvel. Villanueva carded a 113 on front and back nine scores of 55-58. "That's a huge improvement for Joseph," said Braman. "He was disappointed with the score because of some putts that he felt should have dropped, but with the way he's working to improve his game, he'll quickly get his score down there."
Braman, too, had words of praise for freshman Nick Navarro, who absorbed a 130 yesterday on front and back side scores of 66-64.
"Just last week Nick was up shooting 78 or 79 for nine holes. Here yesterday, he's in the mid-60's.
"Once he gets his putting figured out, he's really going to start shaving strokes off his score," said Braman.
Sunnyside was led at the league opener by the junior Bos. Other than a minor blow-up on No. 10, Bos skated around the relatively tough course in steady fashion. He posted a nifty 40 on the front side, but ballooned to a 42 after the turn...thanks mainly to a quadruple-bogey on the opening hole on the back side.
The quad came because of two tee shots he hooked out-of-bounds on the elevated 10th tee block.
"Justin didn't let it bother him," said Braman. "He followed up the quad with a birdie and two parrs. Other than number 10, Justin played pretty well. That 82 could have easily been a 78 or 79."
The Grizzly golfers are back in action next Wednesday with another league match. The March 28 competition will be at Richland's Horn Rapids Golf Course.