Union celebrates 10th year of its Ryder Cup-like event in Clark County
RIDGEFIELD — It’s an event unlike any other during the high school golf season.
Cassidy Pettitt of Union thinks it is funny when she heads to a green, with putter in hand, hoping she doesn’t have to actually use the putter.
“You say, ‘Make this in one putt so I don’t have to putt,’ Pettitt said. “You walk up there with a putter but you hope your teammate makes it so you don’t have to putt.”
A weird feeling for a high school golfer because even though there are golf teams, the athletes rarely play team golf.
Sure there are team scores, but those are just individual scores added up for a grand total. A player cannot seek advice from a teammate, asking to read a putt or club selection. Not in normal play, at least.
For the last 10 seasons, though, there has been one high school event in Clark County that focuses only on team.
The annual Titan Cup was held Monday at Tri-Mountain Golf Course in Ridgefield, a Ryder Cup-esque event hosted by Union High School. A four-team competition, with two teams playing each other in singles competition for nine holes, playing match play with a point per match going toward a team score. In the afternoon, alternate shot is the format, with two players from each team going up against each other.
Union coach Gary Mills came up with the idea because of his love for the Ryder Cup as well as an observation he had early in his career.
“When I first started coaching golf, I was surprised how egocentric golf is,” Mills said. “Sometimes my players would be mad if we won but they didn’t play well. I thought an event like this would get everybody to embrace a team aspect of the game, and not worry so much about their own results.”
The Titan Cup was born. There is a boys event in the fall, and the girls take center stage in the spring. Host Union won the first six girls cups. Camas has won the past four, including Monday’s competition.
It is a true competition, too. The Titans wanted to get that cup back.
“It has our name on it,” said Union senior Callie Mills, daughter of the coach, emphasising the importance of the event. “You’ve got to earn the cup.”
There is more to just trying to win, though.
“We’re the ones who host this. We have to be good hosts and have fun with it,” Pettitt said.
The Titans are ambassadors of the Titan Cup.
“There is less pressure to win it now,” Gary Mills said. “There is a bigger emphasis on competition and representing our school.”
Pettitt said she likes playing against one school in the morning and then another in the afternoon.
Callie Mills said she enjoys the alternate shot format because it is so different. Alternate shot is exactly what is sounds like. On Monday, Mills and Pettitt were paired in the afternoon. So Mills would tee off, then Pettitt would hit the second shot, then back to Mills, back to Pettitt until the ball goes in the hole.
“You get that team experience,” Callie Mills said. “You bond with that teammate. You rely on each other. You put each other’s trust into the game.”
Which brings another interesting twist. A golfer usually only has to focus on her own score. Callie Mills remembers she and her teammate hit the ball in the water on consecutive shots earlier in her Titan Cup career.
Pettitt said her teammate once addressed the ball, took a swing, and missed the ball, meaning Pettitt had to take the next shot — from right there.
“You hear a lot of ‘Oh, I’m sorry.’ They’re always apologizing,” Gary Mills said. “You feel another person is dependent on your outcome. There are no sorrys. Both are going to hit good shots and bad shots. You just have to roll with it.”
Oh, and the event is supposed to be fun.
Watching this year’s Cup, it was evident the players took that to heart. Camas players who had already finished their rounds cheered for a good shot by Union on the last hole. This is a friendly competition.
“My freshman year, I had to be dialed in, I had to be serious,” Callie Mills acknowledged. “I realized sophomore year if I got to know the other person, I actually played better. It makes golf a lot more fun.”
“I do like to create conversation,” Pettitt said. “Fun comments to make the mood positive.”
Golf can be stressful, she said, so she jokes around a lot.
“Just trying to keep it optimistic and have fun,” she said.
It’s the thrill of a Ryder Cup, but for Clark County high school golf.
2019 Girls Titan Cup
At Tri-Mountain Golf Course
Union over Columbia River 3.5-2.5
Callie Mills (U) 4 & 3 over Seqouia Davey (CR)
Naomi Phelps (CR) 4 & 2 over Addie Seto (U)
Drew Lobis (U) 2 & 1 over Alexandra Runnells (CR)
Kaitlyn Gresham (U) All square with Karlyn Gomez (CR)
Cassidy Pettitt (U) 4 & 3 over Madeline Kim (CR)
Sami Myers (CR) 1 up over Alyssa Garvey (U)
Camas 3, Mercer Island 3 (Camas wins via tiebreaker)
Emma Cox (C) 4 & 3 over Katelynn Travis (MI)
Gihoe Seo (MI) 4 & 3 over Ashley Clark (C)
Annalise Rorem (MI) 2 up over Wenny Cai (C)
Elizabeth Gillespie (C) 2 & 1 over Lilly Pruchno (MI)
Yumi Baston (MI) 2 & 1 over Ashley Gillespie (C)
Callie Wengler (C) 3 & 2 over Grace Shaddle (MI)
Camas 3, Union 0
Cox/Gillespie(C) 5 & 4 over Lobis/Gresham (U)
Clark/Wengler (C) 1up over Mills/Pettitt (U)
Cai/Gillespie (C) 5 & 4 over Seto/Garvey (U)
Mercer Island 3, Columbia River 0
Seo/Travis (MI) 4 & 3 over Gomez/Kim (CR)
Rorem/Pruchno (MI) 4 & 3 over Myers/Runnells (CR)
Baston/Shaddle (MI) win by forfeit (player injury)