Sports

Highland Christian golfer leads team, seeks third state title

Playing in the state 1B/2B golf tournament at Lake Padden Golf Course, then-junior Craig Crawford of Highland Christian mentally sizes up his shot on the putting green. - Danielle Szulczewski
Playing in the state 1B/2B golf tournament at Lake Padden Golf Course, then-junior Craig Crawford of Highland Christian mentally sizes up his shot on the putting green.
— image credit: Danielle Szulczewski

About six years ago, Highland Christian senior Craig Crawford discovered golf when a family friend signed him up for a youth golf camp.

“I became obsessed with it,” the 18-year-old says now.

It doesn’t seemed to be accidental that Crawford describes his feeling toward the sport as one of obsession, rather than love. To master the sport requires the kind of devotion to practice and attention to detail that goes beyond mere affection. Though Crawford practices at local golf courses and driving ranges almost daily outside of basketball season and in tournaments most weekends during the summer, he looks upon each hole as something new. Course and weather conditions affect how he’ll tee off.

“If it’s windy, you have to lower shots to cut the wind. If it’s not, you want to hit a high ball,” he said. Along with adjusting one’s stance and determining one’s putt, a round of golf begins to sound like an exercise in physics.

For Crawford, it has become intuitive with a lot of practice.

“When I started playing a lot, I lived behind the golf course on Camano Island,” he said. “I would go out there and practice for hours on end, chipping and putting.”

During the basketball season, when Crawford played guard for the Knights, he would practice putting in his bedroom, 100 putts each night. Now that the season has wrapped up, he and a friend who golfs for Burlington-Edison play nine or 18 holes together on the weekends.

The relentless pursuit has made Crawford a two-time state champion and one of the state’s best golfers. Crawford won the 1B/2B state championship as a freshman before placing second his sophomore year to defending 1A champion Andrew Putnam of Life Christian. Then last year, as a junior, Crawford weathered rough first-day conditions, taking a lead he extended on a sunnier day two to win his second state championship over Nathan Putnam of Life Christian.

As Crawford returns for his senior season, hoping to win all his matches en route to a third state title, he has aspirations for his relatively young team as well. While last year’s fourth-place Knights team graduated two seniors — including one who plays college golf this year — Crawford hopes to see his team place higher this year in the state tournament at the Tri-City Country Club in Kennewick.

“I’m really looking forward to (competition),” Crawford said. “It should be a great year.”

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