Small changes led to a big result this spring for Mount Vernon’s Kyle Cooley.
After working on his golf game between his sophomore and junior seasons, Cooley tied for second in the Class 4A State Tournament.
For his finish, Cooley is the Skagit Valley Herald Boys’ Golfer of the Year.
Cooley qualified for the state tournament last year, but didn’t make the cut to get to the second day. This year, not only did he advance to the second day, but he was one of the most competitive golfers there.
Nothing dramatic, said Mount Vernon coach Vic Wolffis. Just a lot of tiny improvements that added up to a significant improvement.
“He was able to execute his plan at a higher rate because he improved his skills that much more,” Wolffis said. “If you watched him swing, he looks like the same golfer. But he was able to take his skills up. Over the course of the season his skill level jumped up enough he could execute what he wanted to do.”
Cooley said the improvements came about because of work with local golf pros including Craig Welty and Sam Johnson at Skagit Golf & Country Club and support from friends, teammates and family — especially his parents, Laurie and Todd Cooley.
He said among the parts of his game that improved was ball striking.
“I was able to hit more fairways and greens, and it led to more birdie opportunities and more birdies,” he said.
Any doubts about Cooley’s potential this season were answered at the Bill Egbers Memorial Tournament, the Skagit County invitational that often draws a slate of the best golfers in the state.
Battling fellow prep standouts such as Mount Si’s Drew Warford, Cooley tied for fourth.
“It was cool to battle him and play against him,” Cooley said.
That battle had a sequel at the end of the season at the state tournament at The Creek at Qualchan Golf Course in Spokane.
Warford won the tournament after back-to-back rounds of 71. Cooley shot a 71 and followed it up with a 73 to tie Gonzaga Prep’s Nate Plaster for second.
“I matured as a golfer,” Cooley said. “I didn’t get as nervous going into the (state) tournament. I wanted to do well but I knew there were more important things than a high school golf tournament.”