On Wednesday of next week, Cassie Kim will own Columbia Basin Big Nine girls golf for the last time.
It’s been a reign like no other.
After winning the six all-league tournaments this season by an average of 17 strokes — and stretching her run of such victories to 22 in a row dating back to her freshman year — the Davis senior will take aim on her fourth district title at Black Rock Creek Golf Course.
Assuming no errant tee shots over the Horse Heaven Hills, few things seem more certain.
From there it would be on to the crowning tournament of her high school career at the Class 4A state championships, where she won as a sophomore and earned two other top-five finishes. The 36-hole, two-day event will be held at Hangman Valley Golf Course, not far from her future scholastic home at Gonzaga University.
Except Kim won’t be there.
When the leaders take the course for the second round and make their charge for medals, Kim will be settling into a long day in the Davis KIVA, where International Baccalaureate testing will cover the second day of spanish and first day of chemistry.
The moment may be missed, but not the future.
“I am sad for missing out on state, in all honesty. I won’t lie about that,” she said during a practice session this week at Westwood West. “But at this point, with all the work I’ve put in (the IB program), it’s better for me to take the test. Since I’ve already won one, so it’s not as big a deal.”
When the potential conflict was first noticed at the start of the year, school officials were confident something could be worked out. There was even consideration given to Kim testing in Spokane during the tournament, but on May 22 — the second and final round — the IB testing schedule requires a full day with no timely make-up dates available.
When it came down to it, with medical school a clear and specific goal, Kim will solve chemistry equations instead compete for a state championship.
Fortunately, this is someone who has accomplished considerably more than most and is grateful and appreciative for all of it. She’s not wasting time regretting anything.
“It’s weird because I feel really old now as a senior,” she said. “I kind of miss being a freshman, first coming up when it was all new and ahead of me. I’ve had a lot of support from everyone in the Valley — family, friends and everybody at Davis. I appreciate that so much.”
Kim, of course, was highly involved in Washington Junior Golf in her early years and was no secret as a young talent when she arrived at Davis. She placed fifth at state as a freshman and the next year she captured the 4A title by six strokes, becoming the Valley’s first girl to win an individual championship in the state’s biggest classification.
“I was surprised it happened my sophomore year, that early,” she said, reflecting on her dominant tour at Meadowwood near Spokane. “I thought I might get close, but it just turned out to be my week. That’s how tournament golf goes. We all know each other so well from Juniors and most of the time it’s a just a stroke or two separating us. Whoever sinks their putts that day wins.”
With credit to Davis coaches Emily and Joe Frazier, Kim sees most of her improvement in the mental aspects of the game. She’s always been able to score, but she does it more consistently now and at a higher level. Kim averaged a score of 73.5 in her six league tournaments, shot a 6-under 65 to win the Wenatchee Valley invitational and recorded two eagles in a round of 68 at Yakima Elks.
This is why, shortly after Kim’s signing, Gonzaga coach Brad Rickel exclaimed “she will make an immediate impact as a freshman and will be a force to be reckoned with.”
The choice of Gonzaga, however, was not easy, at least at first. And academics were the issue.
“At first I was going to look at Division III schools because, with med school, I was expecting to be focused mostly on academics with a little golf on the side,” she said. “I didn’t think Division I because with a really hard major it would be difficult in a bigger program that travels a lot to miss time.”
But Gonzaga sophomore and Eisenhower graduate Holden Backes encouraged Kim to consider the Zags, and after discussing her situation and priorities with Rickel she committed last summer.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” Kim said. “I think it’s the ideal fit for me.”
That chapter will begin soon, and this one will conclude Wednesday with her tour at Black Rock Creek on Wednesday. There is a good chance that Kim’s freshman brother, John, will represent the family at state with the CBBN boys district tournament set for Monday and Tuesday.
If so, Cassie will have plenty of advice. She’s been there and done it all.
“I’ve had time to dwell on it and I’ve come to terms with it,” Kim said of missing her final state tournament. “With all the work I’ve done it’s very important to me, especially the chemistry test because that will be a huge part of my major in college. If it was anything else I would go, but I can’t skip this. It’s my future.”