HURRICANE – The Hurricane boys golf team features athletes who will challenge the upper-echelon of Region 9 and contend for state qualifying positions.
Leading the pack is No. 1 golfer Thomas Christiansen, a junior, who shot an 81 in Wednesday’s opening tournament at Sunbrook.
“I’ve never seen kids drop scores like he has,” head coach Mark Christensen said. “Last year, he dropped 10 strokes off his average. Just over the summer he dropped another five strokes off his average. I’ve never seen kids improve that fast. If James (Tidwell) doesn’t watch out, he’s going to blow him out of the water.”
Tidwell, a senior, is another Hurricane golfer that Christensen said has devoted his high school career to that sport alone.
“He can hit the ball a country mile,” Christensen said. “He hits it really hard. He doesn’t play any other sports. He just golfs.”
Both Christiansen and Tidwell said making golf the primary focus is the only way to play the sport.
“You only do good when golf is your favorite sport,” Christiansen said. “As soon as I made golf my favorite sport, my scores have been dropping.”
Tidwell said the love for golf comes through when that happens.
“It’s when you go play baseball or basketball you have the tendency to be less involved,” he said. “You’ve got to be dedicated.”
Christensen said it’s an asset this year to have two golfers who have shown that kind of dedication to the sport for multiple years.
“James and Thomas have been our No. 1s throughout their entire career,” Christensen said. “I’m looking forward to those two to carry the rest of the team. Last year, they were younger and couldn’t provide much leadership because they were young.”
Christiansen said he essentially spent his entire summer at Sky Mountain Golf Course.
“During the summer I’d come out here (at Sky Mountain) at 8-o-clock, and I’d play nine or 18 holes,” he said, “and then later at like 4 or 6 I’d come out and hit range. It’s a long day. It was good. I didn’t have a summer life. Golf was my life.”
Christiansen and Tidwell also banter with each other, especially since Christiansen has improved so drastically.
Tidwell said, “The only time he beats me is when I’m sick, can’t see …”
Christiansen interrupted, “… And when it counts.”
Christiansen said he was anxious to start the season because of things he worked on during the offseason.
“I’m excited to show off what I’ve been practicing,” he said. “I just barely started getting my swing in and everything is starting to feel good. I’m ready to hit a tournament with my new swing.”
Christiansen’s 81 in the season opener was good enough for a top 10 finish.
With the new season underway, Christensen said the new golfers have shown the similar dedication to the sport that Tidwell and Christiansen showed.
“With anybody young they’re going to be a little bit smaller and can’t quite hit the ball as hard,” he said, “but I’ve got some guys that really love golf. They all work out here at (Sky Mountain). Besides spending time golfing they’re all out here on the course. They’re in the clubhouse and working on the fairways mowing things. They know the course really well.”
Christiansen said the new players have astonished him.
“I brought out a couple of these freshmen and sophomores,” he said. “A lot of them are playing for their first time. So that first time, they drop 15 strokes in the first week. We’ve never had freshmen that work as hard as them. They’re putting the time into it.”
Christensen said the hard-working nature comes from being a Hurricane Tiger.
“Hurricane is blue collar,” he said. “Golf is a country club sport, and we’ve never been real great at country club sports. They don’t always have the nicest clubs, they don’t always have the nicest bags, but they work hard.”
Follow Richard Briggs on Twitter, @BriggsRich.