You might think Whitefish’s new golf coach, Tim Olson, would be a bit apprehensive about following in the foot steps of a coaching legend.
His predecessor, Terry Nelson, amassed 23 state championships at the helm of the Bulldogs. He racked up numerous hall of fame accolades and more Coach of the Year awards than there are clubs in his golf bag.
It’s a tough act to follow, but Olson says he’s up to the challenge.
“Terry brought so much to the program, and hats off to his success,” Olson said. “This coaching staff has got to step it up and make sure everything continues to head in the right direction. Hopefully I can step right in with a seamless transition.”
Olson knows golf and the coaching game as well as anyone. He’s the PGA Head Professional at Whitefish Lake Golf Club, is an assistant coach with the Whitefish boys basketball team and heads up the Junior Golf program at the club.
Through Junior Golf, he’s worked with most of the players on this year’s varsity and JV rosters.
“I’ve been seeing some of these kids since they were six years old,” Olson said.
This season’s boys and girls teams both have a mix of veteran players and up-and-coming standouts.
Arthur Doorn should be a top-tier golfer in the state, even as a sophomore. He’s been playing in numerous junior and state amateur tournaments this summer.
“He’s working hard and putting time into his game,” Olson said. “We expect some good things out of him this year.”
Seniors Kyle Barron and Cooper Olson will also anchor the varsity squad.
The injury bug bit the team before the season’s first tournament. Iaian Cameron, the teams No. 2 golfer, broke his wrist skateboarding and will likely miss most of the season.
“To have him go down is pretty devastating,” Olson said. “We’ll cross our fingers and hope he’s back by the state tournament.”
With a hole in the roster, Olson says underclassmen will be looked at to fill the void.
“We need to have some freshmen and sophomores step up and put in some time and work to get better,” he said. “The roster is pretty open from No. 3 down.”
The girls haven’t escaped the injury bug, either.
No. 1 golfer Erin Tabish is out with a knee injury for about 4-6 weeks, leaving a gaping hole at the top of the roster.
“When you lose your No.1 golfer, it’s like losing a quarterback,” Olson said.
Other golfers will have to step up for the Lady Bulldogs to compete with the best in the state. Olson is looking to Simone Craft, Sage Jackson, Malia Morris, Georgia Donaldson, and Lauren Cogdill as possible starters.
“The potential with those girls is there,” he said. “They all have a chance to improve and get ready for the state tourney.”
The varsity team kicks off the season next week at a Class AA tourney in Great Falls.
“That’s a big step for some of the younger kids,” Olson said. “It’s a measuring stick this early in the season. We’ll see where we need to get to.”