Hard work pays off for Skyline golf teamsOct 01, 2022 07:53PM ● By Daniel Olsen
By Daniel Olsen | [email protected]
Last year, the Skyline Eagles boys golf team won a championship at the state and national level. They won another state title in 2022. While they did not go to nationals for a third straight title, one could make the case that a consistent powerhouse like this team should remain in the national rankings.
“We’ve won four state titles in a row with the boys,” coach Kenneth James said. “We were back to back national champions in 2020 and 2021. We were ranked No. 1 in the USA Today poll. We didn’t play in the national tournament this summer. We probably aren’t ranked nationally anymore because of that.”
Despite the break this year on the national scene, the 5A division knows there will be no days off with heavy favorite Skyline searching for their fifth straight state title. However, there has been a little bit of free time for their talented players to take advantage of.
“I do not do much outside of golf,” star senior Peter Kim said. “I like skiing in the winter time. I like music and I used to play piano.”
On the girl’s side, the team didn’t win a championship. However, they still fared well as they won region and finished fourth place overall in the state championships at the 5A level.
“On the girls team we have a girl named Ashley Lan,” James said. “We have her sister for two more years. The girls had a great year last year.”
The boys have played on several golf courses throughout the state, but they have also been to some amazing golf tournaments in the past few years on a national scale.
“We had the high school national tournament at Pinehurst for 2020 and 2021, and it’s my favorite course,” Kim said. “They’ve had the U.S. Open there on a different course.”
The U.S. Open will return to Pinehurst in 2024. By that point, Kim’s high school golf experience will be long gone and he will be in the next phase of his life.
“I’ll be deciding by the end of October what I’m going to do for college and start figuring it out,” Kim said.
Utah isn’t the easiest state to play year round golf in for the majority of people. With the exception of some courses in the south, the winters are too cold or snowy for most courses to remain open.
“When it gets colder I’ll practice on the simulator indoors and try to go down to St. George every few weeks,” Kim said. “There’s a couple tournaments I go to but not too many. There are only three or four tournaments in winter so most of my trips are for practice. I like to hit balls in driving ranges that have heaters.”
While golf is life for Kim, coach James realizes that there are many other responsibilities that his other players have to balance.
“I hope they’re all playing some during their offseason,” James said. “Some played all the way through the summer. Some play other sports. I hope they continue to hit balls and work on what we’ve taught.”
While some golfers are superstitious, James tends to go with the same John Daly outfits just because it’s fun for him.
“I got a few more John Daly outfits since we won nationals last year,” James said. “It’s funny because kids from other teams will ask why I am not wearing them when I am in regular clothes. I try to stick with school colors as much as I can. I have some plaid shorts and USA flag shorts. I mix it up. Some people want to do the same thing before they come to the course or wear their favorite socks. Some don’t want their parents to watch them. Others like being watched. Every player is different. I try to abide by what works best for each of them.”
While some fall sports might not be getting as much attention as football, James is hopeful that their efforts will be noticed.
“During COVID, golf took off,” James said. “It’s hard because it’s an individual sport. We make some announcements in school. It’s important to talk about the achievements your team has done. I’ve had to cut boys and girls the last couple years due to the popularity of the sport at Skyline. Other teams in the region had to cut more than I did. Some have way more try out than I did. If all numbers are up then it’s one of the things you can do. It’s good that our numbers are way up.”
The boys are in the middle of their season right now, while the girls season will kick off in spring 2023. There are high hopes for both teams.
“I really think we have some really hard workers putting in the time,” James said. “They are talented because they work so hard. They play year round if they can. I am pretty proud of that. I have a good string of boys and girls that have gone on to play in college. If we continue to work that hard, we have an advantage. We have really hard workers. In state, our region was successful because we were prepared by the time it came. We have a talented region so we pushed each other.”
For Kim, a decorated high school golf career can’t be taken for granted.
“I’ve played tons of junior golf events over the summers and just won a big one,” Kim said. “It was an AJGA (individual) Tournament in Colorado. As far as the team with Skyline goes, I think it’s cool I got to be a part of a team that dominated. They’ve won nationals two years in a row and state four times in a row. I was on three of those state championships. It will be cool to look back on this time when I’m older.”