There must be something in the water out at the Horn Rapids area in Richland — at least as far as the high school golf season is concerned.
Hanford High School, which uses Horn Rapids Golf Course as its home course, took all of the major awards in this year’s Tri-City Herald All-Area golf team.
Tanner Martin was named the boys’ team MVP, while Taylor Kain-Godoy was the girls’ MVP.
Falcons boys coach Chuck Wagner and Hanford girls coach Mike Neidhold were the top coaches.
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Joining Martin on the boys first team is DeSales’ Ryan Baumgart (who won his third consecutive state 1B/2B title), Southridge’s Nick Mandell, and the Richland trio of Jeffrey Marcum, Drew McCullough and Hunter Thompson.
Kain-Godoy — who will attend and play golf at Claremont McKenna College in California this fall — was joined on the first team by teammates Kelsey Aiello, Lacy Skwarek and Katie Stephens; and Pasco’s Jalayne Martinez and Neydeen Martinez.
Martin was consistent through the entire season, finishing at or near the top during Mid-Columbia Conference matches and in the post-season.
“It was probably my best year of all in high school,” said Martin, a senior who will play at North Idaho Junior College beginning this fall. “My putting was really my strength this season. I started getting (putting) lessons last summer. My putting was the main part that got better. Last year, I would hit 15 greens in regulation but missed the putts.”
Wagner, whose Falcons finished third as a team at the 3A state tournament last month, said Martin deserved the honor.
“I think a lot of that was the guys on our team pushed him to be better,” said Wagner, who has bene the Hanford boys golf coach since 1973. “Zach (Betzsold), Eric (Dahl) and Ezra (Arneson), they pushed him.”
That competition in practice made the Falcons that much better as a unit.
“We would go one-on-one for a position (for the next varsity match),” said Wagner. “We’re six deep and that sixth player might shoot par that day and still not make the team for the next varsity match.”
Kain-Godoy and her teammates got that daily competition at Horn Rapids too.
She had a great season in which she was always among the leaders at the MCC pods, she won the District tournament title, and she finished third in the 3A state tournament.
“In some ways I did like my season and in some ways I didn’t,” Kain-Godoy said. “My goal was to get down to the low 70s this season. I’m glad I improved at the end of the season. I finally got to 79.”
She said her strength this season was her short game.
“You can hit the ball all day long, but you have to make those chips and putts,” she said.
Practices at Horn Rapids were sometimes harder than the pods, whether it was working from the green back to 100 yards, or out of sand traps.
“Our deal is competition,” said Neidhold. “Everything is competition. We play for the 1-2-3-4 spots for the next event. And they all wanted to have the No. 1 spot.”
And as a group, they repeated as the 3A state champions.
“So much of this year was not talking about repeating,” said Neidhold. “But by the end of year the pressure on these girls was to repeat. I felt it. This one was really, really sweet. We had great kids, and we had that last walk together.”
Neidhold praised Kain-Godoy’s father, Dana Kain, who was an assistant coach for the Falcons. He’s been a successful amateur golfer in the Tri-Cities over the years.
“Dana knows how to hit a golf ball,” said Neidhold. “I know where to get the milkshakes after the tournaments. And I’m the on-courses psychologist.”
Both Wagner and Neidhold also praised Horn Rapids head professional Dan Clifford, who makes the course readily available to the Falcons.
“I think a lot of the credit goes to Horn Rapids,” said Neidhold. “A lot of them started out there at the age of 8 at Dan Clifford’s golf camps.”