Royal golf team has challenges, opportunities

Mar. 13—ROYAL CITY — The Royal High School golf team has an uphill climb ahead of it this year, said coach Pete Christensen.

"We had high hopes until a couple of our boys went back to playing soccer," Christensen said. "They played soccer their freshman year and came to golf last year and they did really well in golf and they went back to soccer this year. We thought we'd have a run at the league and district title but now it's going to be really tough."

The team consists of eight or nine boys and four girls this year, Christensen said. The team graduated one player who was on varsity last year, so it's more or less the same team this year, except for the players who switch teams.

"Our team shortened a lot since last year; we had people leave and graduate, but I think we're pretty strong together," said sophomore Molli Klefbeck. "If we can get a few more people out we can have a shot at winning league and districts again."

"I think it's promising," said senior Esven Espino. "We've got some good players."

Espino had never played golf before he joined the team as a sophomore, he said.

"I'm probably just going to try to get a little bit better at everything," Espino said. "That's kind of been my goal every year."

Klefbeck came to the team with a little more experience, she said, because she had golfed with her dad growing up.

"(I'm focusing on) my short game," Klefbeck said. "That's probably the most important thing with everyone."

"Golf is a hard enough sport to learn and to be competitive at it," Christensen said. "It takes time generally, to get to that level. We've got, I think, four freshmen out this year, (and) they're already doing well for not competing in golf before. They played a lot ... but competing in a tournament level is different."

Teaching young players to compete in golf is a challenge, Christensen added.

"At this level, we're not trained professional coaches. And if (something) works for them, even though it may not be technically sound, we're not going to try to reinvent their swing. If they're functional and scoring well with the swing they have, we're not going to try to revamp everything about it. But if they come in new, we try to mold them into having that consistent swing where they can repeat a shot more consistently."

Joel Martin may be reached via email at