A year ago, Cyerra Wellman had never played golf. Now she is going into her second season on the Redmond High girls golf team.

The junior said the sport can be difficult for someone just taking it up, but it’s rewarding.

“It’s really not like any sport I’ve ever played,” she said. “It’s a lot more fun and laid back.”

Players getting their first golf experience as members of a high school team has become common in the Redmond School District, said fifth-year Panthers coach Jeff Roundtree. Typically, he said about half the girls who come out for his team haven’t played before.

With the help of district athletic director Kevin Bryant and other coaches, he is looking to do something about it.

They are working on starting boys and girls golf teams at Elton Gregory and Obsidian middle schools. Roundtree hopes the teams can play as soon as this spring.

That would help improve the participation from when 20 girls would come out for golf about a decade ago, to only five at Redmond High this season, Roundtree said. In 2017, Redmond didn’t qualify for the team standings at the Class 5A Special District 2 Championships because only three players participated.

“Numbers are lacking in all sports,” he said. “We’re trying to do something creative and create a feeder program.”

By getting players to start playing golf earlier, Roundtree hopes to show them the sport doesn’t have to be intimidating.

“We get them out and show them it’s a fun activity,” he said.

Roundtree’s players will also mentor the middle school players during the season.

“The older kids can talk to them about how rewarding golf is,” he said.

While Roundtree credits local courses for opening up to junior practice and tournaments during the season, he would like to see more opportunities.

“We don’t have a country club where parents can drop the kids off to play and swim and eat,” he said.

“Some of the public courses need to step up and create that atmosphere for the kids.”

He also wants to see players interested in playing more than just during the season.

“What we’d like to do is turn golf into a year-round sport, instead of just being seasonal,” he said.

The Panthers are scheduled to start the 2018 season Wednesday at Crooked River Ranch.

Along with Wellman, who shot 158-146—304 at the 2017 district meet, Elizabeth Roundtree, the coach’s daughter, is also back. She shot 112-103—215 at the district meet.

Roundtree has a goal of reaching the state tournament this year. One of Wellman’s goals is to par more than the one hole she did in 2017. With a year of experience, she feels good about surpassing that.

“I feel better because now I understand how things are going to go,” she said. “I don’t feel as nervous because I’m not new to it anymore.”

— Reporter: 541-548-2186, gfolsom@redmondspokesman.com

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