Steady improvement, Hillcrest golf could be on par for competitive seasonSep 04, 2022 09:56AM ● By Julie Slama
By Julie Slama | [email protected]
After two tournaments in Stansbury and Payson before school begun, Hillcrest High’s golf coach can see improvement and hopes with consistency, his team will be more competitive this season.
“Last season, at our own tournament at River Oaks, we took third, which was our highest finish,” coach Dave Richardson said. “With more players who are playing better, I see more of those finishes this year.”
The squad is led by senior Connor Poulsen, “who just shot four under par and has a good supporting cast,” Richardson said.
Some other varsity players Richardson is looking to include senior Jeb Thomas, juniors Matt Miller and Keaton Glover and sophomore Alex Lopez. Richardson also has high hopes for freshman Chase Runnells who has “a natural swing and nothing but potential.”
“We graduated five players, but we have a bunch of guys back,” Richardson said. “Our JV is showing a lot of potential. It looks like we’ll have a fun season.”
He expects competition again from Stansbury and Tooele, but Richardson thinks his team will be in the top five at several tournaments “if their scoring is low enough. I’m shooting to win the region.”
While the top two region teams automatically qualify for state, the top scoring teams across Utah also qualify. Even if the team doesn’t qualify, Richardson expects Poulsen to compete individually at state as he did last year.
At last fall’s 5A state championship, Poulsen played in the first round, but missed the cut to advance.
“I didn’t play as well as I wanted to,” he said. “It was kind of tough with a field of 110 kids playing.”
Poulsen started sinking putts on the putting green around 8 years old. He then hit balls at the driving range before playing a course at age 10.
“For the most part, my family plays—my grandpa, my dad, my brother, and my sister,” he said, adding that when he began his dad would give him pointers.
Now, he watches YouTube to learn how to improve.
“If I think what I’m doing is wrong, I will sometimes watch videos of coaching lessons to see what they say and I’ll try to implement it,” Poulsen said.
Around his sophomore year, he began to get more serious about playing golf. Thomas and senior Cole Wardle also joined the Hillcrest team then.
“I play soccer in the spring, but golf is way less stressful,” said Poulsen, who plays goalkeeper for the Huskies in the spring and would like to play either sport on the collegiate level. “I kind of like golf, just being on my own. I can play on my own timeframe. There's not a set schedule when I need to be there and I'm not running around on a field for 90 minutes in a dead sprint. I'm just more relaxed.”
With a goal to qualify and improve individually at state, Poulsen was on the course almost daily this summer. He also played in tournaments this summer.
To pay for his practice rounds, he and other Huskies picked up driving range balls once per week in trade to play a couple rounds.
“We mostly focus on the game,” he said. “I think we’re going to be able to set up a fight against schools this year. It would be really cool for us to win one of the actual tournaments, because it's been quite a while since we've done that. We all have the desire to win and everybody's willing to put in the work to make that happen. We most definitely have the manpower to do it.”