Athlete Spotlight: W.F. West’s Elizabeth Twining Left With Nowhere to Go-lf

W.F. West senior Elizabeth Twining was the lone girls golfer from the county to compete in the 2A state tournament last spring in Spokane. (Eric Trent / etrent@chronline.com)

Off the Green: Bearcats Star Golfer Turns to Work, School to Fill Time With Golf Courses Closed

By Eric Trent / etrent@chronline.com

W.F. West girls golf coach Matt Klovdahl was so confident that his star golfer, senior Elizabeth Twining, was destined for a return to the 2A state tournament this May that he booked the hotel room in Spokane three months in advance. 

“He was like, ‘You’re going to state.’ And I was like, ‘I’m going to try my best,’” Twining said. “He’s got a lot of faith in me.”

And for good reason, Twining was the only 2A girls golfer in the county last year to compete at state, buoyed by a meteoric rise in talent and skill each of the last three years.

Twining, who first picked up a driver as a freshman three years ago, saw her career take off between sophomore and junior years, where she went from JV to the varsity’s No. 1 golfer in short order. She placed 18th at the District 4 tournament in 2019, then shot a 101 in the first round of the state tournament in Spokane, narrowly missing out on placing and the day-two cut.

It’s been a big jump going for someone who’s previous golfing experience before freshman year was playing mini golf with a putter. She didn’t even have her own clubs until she tried out for the JV team at 14 years old at the behest of her parents.

Her dad and grandma have golfed their entire lives and it soon became a bonding experience for Twining and her dad.

“I don’t hang out with him much, but if you talk golf to him, that’s the only conversation he’ll actually talk about,” Twining said. “Now we play a lot, so it’s really fun.”

W.F. West senior Elizabeth Twining went from the Bearcats’ JV team to the varsity’s No. 1 golfer in one year. (Eric Trent / etrent@chronline.com)

Those first two years on JV it was more about learning the basics of the game and getting her technique down. She wasn’t totally invested in it at that point, she said, but when she made varsity last season it fueled her to hone those skills even further. She grew tired of being frustrated with slices and poor shots.

“Each year I keep getting better and better,” Twining said. “I enjoy it. Plus, I’m natural at it, I feel like. I’m not very good at basketball or volleyball or anything like that.”

The most important skill she’s learned the past three years has nothing to do with driving or putting, it’s her mindset. She doesn’t get down on herself when a shot doesn’t land precisely where she wanted. She’s learned to take the good with the bad, and that there’s always another shot, another chance to redeem a bad shot.

“When you hit five good shots in row with a driver or a putter, it makes you feel really good,” Twining said. “Then you hit one bad shot and you’re like, ‘This game sucks.’ Then you hit another good ball. It keeps making me want to do it more. You want to be good. It seems easy when you’ve never played, but once you get out there you’re like, ‘Oh, this is actually pretty hard.’” 

The 2019 second-team all-2A Evergreen Conference selection has moved on from a mini golf putter to Titleist M4s and Cleveland clubs. If only she could put them to good use this spring.

W.F. West senior Elizabeth Twining was a second-team all-2A Evergreen Conference selection as a junior in 2019. (Eric Trent / etrent@chronline.com)

Twining has nowhere to practice now with golf courses statewide closed after Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order, including Twining’s home courses, Newaukum Valley Golf Course and Riverside Golf Club. She was training at those two courses the past two weeks, replicating team practices to keep herself ready in case spring sports opens back up in time for the postseason.

The last time she practiced was on March 22 at Riverside, but now it’s looking like it may be her last time golfing for a while. She’s coming to the realization that her high school golfing career may have reached its end.

“I can’t even come out here even though I have nothing else to do,” Twining said. “It’s really upsetting. I was excited for my senior year and to make it to state again. It was one of my goals. I’m pretty bummed about it and I hope this doesn’t go until the end of the year.”

Now her days are relegated to going to work, staying home and taking three online Running Start classes with Centralia College. She’s already finished all her credits at W.F. West and only has electives left before finishing her AA degree at Centralia College. She has no plans yet after obtaining her AA.

Still, she’s holding out hope for a return by postseason. But Twining and her high school friends, some of whom are on the Bearcats softball team, are disappointed this may be the end of their sporting careers.

“It’s understandable that this virus is affecting a lot of people but, also, we have feelings,” Twining said. “The seniors have feelings, everyone has feelings and I think it’s kind of sad. I’m pretty bummed and so are a lot of seniors who had goals.”

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