Prep Athlete of the Week: Dawson-Boyd’s Easton Popma

With the majority of high school golfers seeing the course for the first time in the last week, it may take a while to get up to speed.

But for Dawson-Boyd’s Easton Popma, the groove is already there.

The sophomore shot an even-par 71 at the Tyler Golf Club on Monday in the first Camden Conference meet of the year to lead the Blackjacks to victory. The rest of the D-B boys’ golfers weren’t far behind, carding what head coach Dave Baldwin said may be a school-record 309 as a team.

“Easton is a competitor. He’s a real smart kid and he’s a perfectionist,” Baldwin said. “I think his expectations are to do what he did. You never know what a kid is going to shoot in golf, but he’s always thinking he’s going to get lower.”

Popma didn’t let a little weather slow him down this year. A teammate’s garage served for more than storing cars this winter.

“All that snow, it’s been hard to think about golf, but fortunately one of the guys on the team, Spencer Erickson, his garage has been open since about February, so we’ve been hitting a lot of balls in there,” Popma said. “He bought a big mat and we practiced in there about every day of every week for a while. It was good practice.”

The Blackjacks are coming off a third-place finish at the Class A state tournament a year ago and look to have another solid season.

For Popma, getting outside the weekend before the first meet helped him get his swing down even more.

“It felt pretty good. It felt a lot better than hitting inside because you could see where your ball would go,” Popma said. “My swing felt pretty good. It ended well last year and it started good this year with my swing, so I’m pretty happy. We went over to the (Montevideo) driving range and hit a lot of balls. That was good.”

When the Blackjacks hit the course on Monday, it only took three holes before Popma knew it was going to be a solid round.

“I started hitting my driver and my driver had been my only questionable club in my bag,” Popma said. “I hit about three right down the middle. I was happy and knew it was going to be a good round.”

Just under halfway through his first 18 holes of the season, he realized just how good it was.

“By about the seventh hole I realized I hadn’t bogeyed a hole yet and I kept it going. I got into red numbers on the back nine,” Popma said. “I got to Hole 12 and found myself 2-under without a bogey. I slipped up a bit and three-putted the last hole, but I was still really happy with how I played.”

Though Popma’s round was over, he wasn’t done. He headed back on the course to find his teammates and walk with them through their final holes.

“Easton was done before the others and he’s walking back, trying to find his teammates to see how they are doing and cheering them on,” Baldwin said. “As a coach, that’s what you dream for – kids that support each other.”

Baldwin said one of the best things about the Dawson-Boyd boys’ golf team is the way the members support each other, through good and bad.

“They all rally around each other and they practice hard together. They play a lot in the summer and they compete with each other,” Baldwin said. “Probably the best thing is they support each other. They really are a true team and I’ve always said that.

“No matter how good your talent is, if you don’t have kids that support each other, you don’t get to the level you could. These kids have that part of it, which is really neat.”

For Popma, knowing that his teammates will make up for it if he has a bad round is huge.

“I feel like if I have a bad round, I have three or four guys on the team that will back me up with a good round,” Popma said. “I don’t have to worry, I just have to go out there and play.”