Eating, breathing, playing and living the golf life

King’s West senior Nate Dittmer takes driving range practice in Tuesday’s afternoon sun at Rocket Golf on State Route  303.  - Photo by Rogerick Anas
King’s West senior Nate Dittmer takes driving range practice in Tuesday’s afternoon sun at Rocket Golf on State Route 303.
— image credit: Photo by Rogerick Anas

Nate Dittmer has never played golf in the snow, but he wouldn’t mind trying.

He actually enjoys the challenge of playing the game in all forms of weather — rain, sun or biting wind.

“I think that’s what I like most about it. There’s so many things I cannot control, like the weather or the roll of the green,” the King’s West senior said. “It makes you feel good when you do accomplish your goal.”

From his white Titleist hat to his grooved swing, it becomes quite clear that Dittmer doesn’t take golf lightly.

Just ask anyone who knows him.

“His respect for the game ranks up with the top three of four players I’ve had,” King’s West coach Emil Heinze said. “He’s a nice kid looking for something he can do well. When he found golf that gave him something he could grow and excel at.”

Dittmer plays for four or five hours each week at Kitsap Golf and Country Club on top of his daily practice and match schedule with his high school team.

Then, on Saturday and Sunday mornings he usually works two to three hours working with the grounds crew, from raking bunkers to mowing grass.

Although he loves the smack of a drive down the fairway (he can hit it more than 260 yards) he actually wants to become a grounds crew supervisor.

“I want to do what I am doing right now, but just my boss’s job,” he said. “I like it because I am not stuck in an office. I am outside and I am working with my hands. I am doing physical activities, keeping in shape.”

Dittmer wants to attend Walla Walla Community College in eastern Washington because they have a two-year groundskeeping and turf program.

But right now, Dittmer plays a unique role on his school’s golf team. He is the only senior among a pool of sophomores and Heinze considers him more of an assistant than a player.

“He helps me because he helps the kids respect me as a coach,” Heinze said. “He talks to them about golf course etiquette, how to conduct yourself as a golfer.”

As a third-year letterman, he relishes the opportunity to mentor his younger peers on the team.

“It really helps me develop my leadership skills. I do try to get them focused,” Dittmer said. “I try to keep a relaxed environment.”

Teammate Adam Shildmyer says the team can’t help but pay attention to Dittmer.

“He talks to us,” Shildmyer said. “He tells jokes, getting people laughing. I’ve learned (from him) to keep calm out there and not get frustrated over a shot.”

So far in his two matches this year, Dittmer has scored a 44 and a 42 on nine hole courses. His best ever was a 38 last year.

Although Dittmer’s infatuation usually keeps him out of trouble, once he might have gone a little too far when he turned the family backyard into a chipping green, and midway through his renovation with the lawnmower, his dad came out and asked him what he was doing.

“It did not go over well,” Dittmer said.

Fortunately, if things go according to his career plan, Dittmer may someday be able to mow greens and fairways for years to come on a golf course of his choice.

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