David Vonghalath never really played much golf when he was younger.
“I really picked it up after high school,” he said.
And he never put it down.
The Kiona-Benton High School graduate started playing once or twice a week. He even worked at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco, in the pro shop, for four years.
He recently quit his Sun Willows job and works at Washington River Protection Systems out at Hanford.
The 33-year-old has gotten good enough that he’s a plus-1 handicap. He’s played in the Washington State Amateur and local pro-ams, but nothing has happened to him like what he accomplished last Friday.
Vonghalath fired a 59 at Columbia Point Golf Course in Richland, setting a course record off the blue tees. Actually, shattering it. Mike Schoner shot a 62 in a pro-am in 2005 for the old mark.
“David was brain dead that day, just hitting them in the hole,” said Columbia Point General Manager Joe Creager. “That’s what Mike was like when he shot the 62. It’s a different thing when you’re playing that way.”
Vonghalath was playing in the third annual Frogman Classic 2-man Best Ball Tournament at Sun Willows, set for Saturday and Sunday. The tournament benefits the SEAL Future Fund, which helps Navy SEALs in their transition from military to civilian life.
“We were going to do a practice round at Sun Willows on Friday,” said David. “But the course was packed, so we went over to Columbia Point.”
Thirty of them did.
“What’s funny is I didn’t hit a single ball until I teed off on No. 1,” said Vonghalath.
But he went out on fire. Vonghalath birdied the first seven holes, had a par on No. 8, then had an eagle on the par-5, dogleg No. 9 for a front-nine score of 28.
“I had a great drive. It was perfect, down the middle,” said Vonghalath. “I had 210 yards left to the green, against a slight breeze. I took out my Hydbrid and put it within 10 feet of the cup. Then I made the putt.
“At that point I was thinking I may have a shot (at the record). I usually play the back nine better.”
Not that he knew what the record was at that point.
But a couple of his playing partners started concentrating on Vonghalath’s game. They went into the pro shop to find out what the record was.
Vonghalath birdied 10; had pars on 11, 12 and 13; birdied 14; parred 15 and 16; then finished with birdies on 17 and 18 for his final 59.
“The greens were perfect that day,” said Vonghalath.
“Of course they were,” said Creager with a chuckle. “I was out there golfing that day too, and they weren’t that perfect for me.”
Vonghalath had a crowd watching him on the 18th green.
“Everyone was using the same golf app, so they knew what I was doing,” Vonghalath said. “So there were 30 guys watching at the end.”
They gave him a standing ovation.
“It was awesome,” Vonghalath said. “There were Navy SEALs in the group and they were giving me a standing ovation. I mean, c’mon. Navy SEALs were giving me a standing ovation.”
Apparently, they know greatness when they see it.
More from the greens
Kamiakin grad Alexa Clark was named co-Big Sky Conference golfer of the week Tuesday after she won the Battle at Old Works golf tournament, helping lead Eastern Washington University to the team title over eight other schools.
Clark fired rounds of 75, 71 and 73 for a 3-over-par final score of 219.
“Alexa played amazing for three straight rounds,” said EWU coach Brenda Howe after the tournament. “Winning a college golf tournament is a rare accomplishment, so I’m pleased with how she played.”
Check out the Columbia Basin Classic pickleball tournament, set for Friday through Sunday at Lawrence Scott Park in Kennewick. The tournament is hosted by the local 509 Pickleball club. There will be a pro division too.
Pickleball is a scaled down version of tennis, using a smaller court. Players use wooden paddles and what looks like a Wiffleball, but maybe a little heavier.
▪ There will be four high school boys lacrosse teams this coming spring. Hanford will create a team, since there is enough interest at the school, and combine with players from Pasco High and Kiona-Benton. Chiawana, which had players from other schools last year, will just have players only from its own school – just like Richland High does.
▪ Columbia Basin College athletic director Scott Rogers reports that school’s annual Hall of Fame banquet is nearly sold out of tables already.
“We have 46 tables already committed,” he said.
Rogers also noted that the school is starting to celebrate its alumni. CBC held a women’s soccer alumni game a few weeks ago and had 105 former players out.
“We’re going to do a baseball and softball alumni game on Oct. 6,” Rogers said.
▪ Everyone was wondering last year where Selah junior Elijah Pepper would go to play basketball in college.
Pepper, now a senior, recently committed to UC Davis next year.
Hadley gets another year at BYU
Connell grad Matt Hadley fractured his kneecap last year at BYU. But he asked for, and was granted, a medical redshirt by the NCAA and is back for a final season for the Cougars football team.
He’s also playing his sixth different position at BYU, but a familiar one to him when he was at Connell – running back.
While at Connell, Hadley rushed for 6,881 yards in his prep career, and he found the end zone enough times that he scored 746 points.
Hadley has yet to play running back in the 1-1 Cougars’ first two games. In fact, he’s listed as both a running back and linebacker for BYU on its roster. He was listed at LB last year.
Senior Sawyer Powell, a Richland High grad, should see time this season at safety for the Cougars.
Austin Kafentzis, who as a high schooler set numerous Utah records, is also in the secondary for BYU. His father is Kyle Kafentzis, a Richland High grad.
Northwest League notes
Your 2018 Northwest League champions are … the Eugene Emeralds?
Yes. The team with the worst regular-season record, 31-45, found a way to get into the postseason and won it all.
The Emeralds, a Chicago Cubs affiliate, went 5-5 versus our own Tri-City Dust Devils this season.
But because the Hillsboro Hops were so good, going 51-25 overall and winning both the first- and second-half Southern Division titles, the next Southern Division team to qualify was Eugene, based on its second-place finish in the second half – with a 17-21 record.
Then something funny happened. The Ems swept the Hops 2-0 by winning with identical scores of 3-2.
In the title series against the Spokane Indians, they swept 3-0.
They beat the Indians 3-2, then 4-0. On Tuesday night, they trailed Spokane 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth. But they rallied to score two runs in the inning – including winning on a walk-off balk when Spokane’s pitcher made a move to the plate but didn’t throw the ball, causing the umpire to call a balk with the bases loaded.
Baseball is a funny game.
More college football
Royal grad Kaden Jenks got the season-opening start at quarterback for Weber State in its loss to Utah.
Jenks, a redshirt freshman, started again in Week 2 against Cal Poly and was doing well in the first quarter when he was forced to leave due to concussion concerns.
That opened the door for sophomore Jake Constantine, who performed well in leading the Wildcats to a 24-17 win.
Jenks is OK health wise, but Weber State coach Jay Hill lists both Jenks and Constantine as co-starters at QB for this weekend’s home opener against South Dakota.
▪ Chiawana grad Dre’Sonte Dorton hasn’t caught a pass yet for Eastern Washington University’s football team during the Eagles’ 2-0 start.
But the junior made a huge play in EWU’s big 31-26 road win last weekend at Northern Arizona. Just as teammate Nsimba Webster was about to score a key touchdown after catching a pass, Webster fumbled into the end zone.
Dorton alertly dived and recovered the ball for what would be the game-clinching touchdown.