Stubborn winter weather left Blaine senior golfer Leah Swanson concerned about how added driving range time might translate to the course.
She can stop worrying. Swanson fueled Blaine’s 3-0 start in the Northwest Suburban Conference by earning medalist honors in all three matches. Her signature moment came last Thursday: an albatross (double eagle) on the par 5 No. 8 hole at Elk River Golf Club.
“That’s probably the coolest thing I’ve done in my career,” said Swanson, who is in her fifth year playing competitive golf.
Swanson, who also led Blaine to victory at the Forest Lake and Hill-Murray invitationals, spoke to Star Tribune reporter David La Vaque about her Albatross, the strong suits of her game and Blaine’s chances of returning to the Class 3A state tournament.
Q: Did your past matches at Elk River Golf Club help you in terms of strategy on the No. 8 hole?
A: From playing there in the past I knew there is a hill that slopes, and it’s a dogleg to the left. So I wanted to hit it well enough so that it rolled down the hill and onto the fairway for a clear shot at the green.
Q: You were hitting from the gold tees 420 yards from the hole. What clubs did you use?
A: I used my driver off the tee and then I used my No. 4 hybrid. It’s kind of like a fairway wood.
Q: Did you see the ball go in or did you go find it in the hole?
A: I hit more of a line drive shot so I saw it rolling up the elevated green. The green sloped right to left and I saw the ball rolling toward the pin and then I lost it. I didn’t know if it went in or rolled behind the green. One of the Elk River girls who was a little farther ahead of me turned around and said, ‘I think it went in the hole.’
Q: Did that shot make a bad day better or did it keep a good day going?
A: It kept a good day going. I had mostly hit for par. I had a bogey the hole before. So yeah, it boosted my energy.
Q: What made you take up golf as an eighth-grader?
A: I had played a couple times with my grandparents over the years and I did play in eighth grade but I wasn’t very serious about it until probably my freshman year. I just decided I really liked it. I’d like to play in college and I will try out at Bethel University next year.
Q: When you are going well in a given round, what are your strong suits?
A: Probably my approach shots. I can usually hit the green in two or three shots depending on what the par is.
Q: What would you like to do better?
A: My chipping and putting definitely need improvement.
Q: Blaine reached state last season for the first time in more than 10 years. What sort of expectations have you put on yourselves this spring?
A: We all kind of got together before the season to make team goals. We all wanted to shoot in the 80s consistently. Some of us wanted to shoot in the 70s. And we all just want to continue to improve our games so we can make it back to state.
DAVID LA VAQUE