GOLF: Powerful swing propels Foster High’s Ross

Foster High's Jonathan Ross was stuck in golf limbo with too much time on his hands and a state berth at stake. Should he go for the green? Or should he play it safe? Waiting for his tee time on a short par-5 at Fort Lewis' Eagles Pride Golf Course during last fall’s district qualifier, the dilemma played out in Ross' mind like the final scene from the movie “Tin Cup.” "I had a lot of time to think about what I was doing," said Ross, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound senior with light-tower power and a swing to match. "There was a big backup. Instead of getting up there and doing it, I had a lot of time to think about it." As the time passed, the pressure built upon the shoulders of Ross, who began playing golf competitively as a freshman and ascended quickly enough to advance to the state tournament as a sophomore. Now, he was looking for back-to-back berths. But the conundrum remained.

Foster High senior Jonathan Ross earned Seamount League MVP honors last year. A big swinger

Foster High’s Jonathan Ross was stuck in golf limbo with too much time on his hands and a state berth at stake.

Should he go for the green?

Or should he play it safe?

Waiting for his tee time on a short par-5 at Fort Lewis’ Eagles Pride Golf Course during last fall’s district qualifier, the dilemma played out in Ross’ mind like the final scene from the movie “Tin Cup.”

“I had a lot of time to think about what I was doing,” said Ross, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound senior with light-tower power and a swing to match. “There was a big backup. Instead of getting up there and doing it, I had a lot of time to think about it.”

As the time passed, the pressure built upon the shoulders of Ross, who began playing golf competitively as a freshman and ascended quickly enough to advance to the state tournament as a sophomore.

Now, he was looking for back-to-back berths. But the conundrum remained.

A big kid who’s accustomed to driving the ball well beyond 300 yards with one mighty swing, Ross did what comes natural.

He let ‘er rip, and went for the green.

“I was one stroke off the cut, and knew I had an opportunity with three holes to go, so I went for it,” said Ross, now a Foster High senior.

Like Roy McAvoy, Kevin Costner’s character in “Tin Cup,” things didn’t quite go as Ross had planned.

“It didn’t turn out good,” admitted Ross, who sports a perfect 4.0 grade-point average that he hopes lands him as Foster High’s valedictorian next spring. “I put two (balls) OB (out of bounds) and one in the pond. I knew at that point I was one stroke off the cut, so I went all out. It was a tough pin and I needed to make something happen.”

Ross was unable to come back from the disappointing hole, and missed the state cut. Yet, as tough as it was not to advance to state a year after qualifying, he took something away from Eagles Pride that day – a little something that could just help him during this year’s district tournament, which is slated for Oct. 19-20 at North Shore Golf Course in Tacoma.

“I’ve been working a lot on my mental game, thinking a lot of what I want to do with my shots,” said Ross, one of nine golfers on the Foster team. “Instead of going all out on every hole, I want to see what’s going to give me the best chance (to win) instead of bombing it out there every time.”

Of course, when one can “bomb” the ball out there as far as Ross, it’s sometimes difficult not to play the grip-and-rip game.

So Ross has learned a lesson. And, as such, has taken his game to new levels this fall.

“I know he was really disappointed with the way he finished last year,” Foster coach Eric Fletcher said. “He spent a lot of time this summer fine-tuning some things. Now, we’re focusing on the mental side of the game that we did not work on last year or the year before.”

That fine-tuning has paid dividends for Ross, who earned medalist honors in four of Foster’s first seven matches of the year.

However, the long ball remains Ross’ trademark.

“He’s a long-ball hitter. He can hit it a ton,” Fletcher said. “You kind of get awe-struck for a little bit watching him hit. When (his swing) is on, it’s one of the smoothest I have ever seen.”

And one of the most powerful. In fact, Fletcher points out, on the Bulldogs’ home course, the 18-hole, 4,800-yard Foster Golf Links, Ross seldom is able to pull his driver from the bag.

“He’s only able to use his driver on three holes,” the coach said. “Everything else is either a hybrid (club) or the 7-iron.”

That adjustment, didn’t stop Ross from rolling to the Seamount League MVP award.

But this season, which for high school golf in Western Washington is split between the fall and the spring, Ross wants more. The Foster High senior with the big swing wants to finish strong, and go out with a bang at the Class 2A state tournament, which is slated for May 24-25 at a yet-to-be determined course.

In limbo this time?

No, not even the slightest.

“I want to make the cut at the state championship,” Ross said without hesitation.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

A year ago, Mallory Kent was a Foster High senior looking to make waves at the Class 3A state tournament.

Kent accomplished that goal, tying for ninth place by carding a two-day total of 155 (79-76).

Kent, a four-year letter winner at Foster High, is now playing at Washington State University, where she is a freshman. During her prep career, Kent never lost an individual match and earned league MVP honors four straight years. In addition, Kent is a four-time state placer in golf.

Kent, however, isn’t the only Foster High golf product making waves at the collegiate level. Katie Ross, the older sister of Foster High senior Jonathan Ross, is currently playing at Montana State Northern in Havre, Mont. Ross advanced to the state tournament three times at Foster High.

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