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ACH’s Molitor looks to build off fourth-place state finish

by IAN BIVONA
Sports Reporter | April 2, 2024 5:15 PM

COULEE CITY — A year after taking fourth at the 1B/2B Girls State Golf Championships as a freshman, Almira/Coulee-Hartline sophomore Naomi Molitor returns to the course this season aiming for yet another high placing.

“It felt really good that it was my first year, and that I could accomplish something that big — it just made me think that in years to come, I can do that again and I can do a lot better,” Molitor said.

Molitor won a district championship to qualify for the state tournament, coming back from a significant first-day deficit.

“I was a little nervous of course, but I just had confidence — it was a two-day tournament, and the first day I was down 12 strokes from the first girl,” Molitor said. “Coming in, I just knew I had to play well and hopefully I’d be in that second spot. It turned out she didn’t have a good day, and I had a good day, and I ended up taking first.”

Competing at the Tumwater Valley Golf Club for the state championship, Molitor shot a 90 on the first day and shaved off five strokes on the second day for a total score of 175 strokes, four strokes lower than the fifth-place finisher. The sophomore said she focused on her short game on the second day.

“I take it down to every shot, and especially on the short game – that’s where you can shave off a lot of strokes,” Molitor said. “I thought of two-putting and getting chips really close to the hole.”

The success at state prompted Molitor to want to compete and train in the high school off-season. She trained with Michelle Grafos, a Spokane-based PGA Professional and the head coach of the Lewis and Clark High School girls golf team, and competed in District 5 of the Washington Junior Golf Association.

“At state, I took fourth, and that’s really good for my first year, so I wanted to get better,” Molitor said. “I decided to compete in these tournaments and compete at higher levels, and that really helped me improve my game so I can compete and do better at state this year.”

The off-season work has already started to show its results, notably on her drives.

“She has a great short game; her chipping and putting is good, but she had that last year and she’s kept it up this year,” said Dave Molitor, Naomi’s father and head coach of the Warrior golf team. “She works in the backyard chipping and we’ve got a little putting deal in the house … with (Grafos), it’s really been a big help. She’s a professional instructor, and is teaching her all the swinging mechanics that can help you get distance off the tee.”

Despite playing “a little bit” before, Molitor’s first year as a competitive golfer was last year, when she found success at the state tournament. Her father got her into the sport. 

“It was hard at times because golf’s a very frustrating sport, but my dad gave me motivation and tips — just kept me going,” Molitor said. 

Naomi’s brother, ACH junior Jack Molitor, is also on the team.

“It’s really fun — me and Jack (Molitor), as always come out here during the summer and the early spring, and we’re always golfing together,” Molitor said. “Just trying to improve each other in our scores.”

Her success on the course has seeped its way into the other sports Molitor competes in, her father said. Molitor received first-team all-league honors as a member of the ACH girls basketball team, which won a district championship and qualified for the 1B Girls State Basketball Tournament last month. Molitor also played on the ACH volleyball team, placing fourth at the state tournament.

“It’s motivated her a lot, and it’s not just golf – it’s everything she’s been doing,” Dave Molitor said. “She had a good basketball season, and you can tell that the more time she’s putting into stuff, the more success she’s having. She just keeps going and going.”

Molitor opened the season by shooting an 89 at a tournament at the Manito Golf and Country Club on March 25 and an 83-stroke performance at the Quail Ridge Golf Course on March 26.

“I just want to continue to improve my scores and getting them lower and lower,” Molitor said. “At state, I want to be really confident, and I want to be one of those top players.”

Ian Bivona may be reached at ibivona@columbiabasinherald.com.



    Almira/Coulee-Hartline sophomore Naomi Molitor practices at the driving range of the Lakeview Golf and Country Club. ACH Head Coach Dave Molitor, Naomi’s father, said her drives have improved greatly since last season.
 
 


    Almira/Coulee-Hartline sophomore Naomi Molitor took fourth at last season’s state golf tournament. Molitor also won a district championship last season.