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Fourth time's the charm for Interlake golfer | For the Love of the Game
When Ben Singleton came out for the Interlake golf team his freshman year, he wanted to get closer to the game he had played most of his life while contributing to one of the top programs in the state.
He realized that dream earlier this week, playing for the Saints in the 3A KingCo Medalist Tournament, but it took a little longer than he originally anticipated.
Over the past three years, as the Saints were busy winning conference, district and state titles, Singleton was not among them.
His freshman year, with a deep group returning that would go on to win the 2A state title, he barely missed the cut for one of the team's open spots.
"He would make 90 percent of the golf teams in the area," head coach Scott Marcum said. "He was a good golfer, we were just so deep he was the odd man out."
He missed the tryouts his sophomore year and as a junior, failed to turn in his paperwork on time, holding him out of tryouts for the first day. That meant he took the lowest score carded by a player trying out that day (per Interlake tryout policy) and even after he got clearance to play, was unable to dig himself out of the hole to make the final cut for the team.
"The numbers just didn't add up," he said. "I was just barely off."
Three years of missed opportunities would send many athletes looking for another opportunity, especially in a sport like golf where coaches, courses and clubs are not exclusive to those on the prep squad.
But for Singleton, missing out for a third time only increased his hunger for that validation.
"It wasn't like I was going to quit, or that I hated the Interlake golf team," he said. "It made me want it more."
Rather than packing away his now three-year-old dream of golfing for the Saints, Singleton armed himself with a new set of clubs and headed north to train with an uncle and a golf pro he works with in Skagit County.
For the two days leading up to the tryout for this year's squad, Singleton, his uncle and the golf pro worked meticulously on his game, fine tuning the details they knew could help him earn his place.
When the tryouts came around, despite the fact his family does not live in the Tam O'Shanter community and he cannot play the unique and difficult private course except during practices with Interlake, Singleton led the tryout by more than two dozen strokes, finally earning his roster spot.
"It was awfully fun to make it," he said. "I was definitely happy."
Marcum said despite not making the team for three years, Singleton was a seamless fit with this year's group, many of whom were crucial in making sure he had all the details in order this time around. He played in all seven regular season matches for the Saints before winning a two-day battle with a teammate for the sixth and final spot from the team to the KingCo Medalist Tournament, where district spots were on the line.
After building a substantial lead over his teammate during the first day and a half of the qualifying, Singleton watched it melt away as he headed to the final three holes with his season and brief Interlake career on the line.
"That was the worst day I've had in a long time," he said with a laugh. "It was not an easy win."
But as he had throughout his three years at Interlake, Singleton persevered, winning the final spot and playing with his team in the medalist tournament, which the Saints won to keep their winning streak and string of three straight team state championships alive.
While he didn't make the cut to continue to the district tournament, Singleton said there have been no shortage of life-lessons during his four years.
He hopes to study Horticulture or landscape design in college and is looking at the possibility of studying at Western Washington University, with an eye on transferring to Washington State and hopes to keep golfing competitively all the while.
Wherever he ends up, he knows can look to his past for inspiration, regardless of the circumstances.
"Perseverance will get you anywhere," he said. "Just keep going."
For the Love of the Game is a Reporter column by Sports Editor Josh Suman.