Washougal golfer shares passion for sport with father, teammates

After finishing 2nd at state last year, senior ready to dominate this year

Kallie Sakamoto taps in for par during an April 9 tournament against Black Hills at Orchard Hills Country Club in Washougal.

Nearly every time Kallie Sakamoto steps onto a golf course — whether it’s playing practice rounds together, or swinging for the Washougal golf team, where her dad helps out as an assistant coach — it’s a chance for the Washougal High golfer to spend time with her father, David Sakamoto.

On Monday, April 9, David followed his daughter’s foursome around Orchard Hills Country Club in Washougal, as the Panthers hosted Black Hills High School from Tumwater, Washington. Kallie started a bit slow, with bogies on the first and second holes. However, after a birdie on hole three, she never looked back, posting a nine-hole even-par round of 35.

“I just love sharing the wonderful game of golf with my dad,” says Kallie, who placed second in state last season.

Golf was not Kallie’s first sport. Growing up, she started as a softball player and didn’t pick up a golf club until she was 12 years old. The Sakamotos were living in Fairfield, California, at the time and it wasn’t long before Kallie became her father’s favorite golfing buddy.

“The power she naturally generated in her softball swing really transferred over to golf,” David says.

By the time Kallie was a freshman in Fairfield, she was playing on the boys’ golf team and was their best player, receiving all-league honors. The next summer, the Sakamotos moved to Washougal, where Kallie, now a senior, has been a standout ever since and has made golf her four-season sport.

When Kallie swings her driver, the crack of the clubface hitting the ball has so much volume, other golfers can’t help but to turn their heads to watch. She has good accuracy and can launch the ball 280 yards with a full swing.

Kallie recently accepted a scholarship offer to play golf for Aurora University in Illinois, a Division 3 school with about 4,000 students.

“Kallie signed up with a recruiting agency last year, and the coach at Aurora just happened to spot her and invited us to visit back in October,” David says.

Kallie, who was looking at several other schools, adds that she really hit if off with the coach at Aurora.

“My decision was really based on the golf coach,” she says. “It just felt right, and the campus is beautiful, too, which is a major plus.”

Right now, however, Kallie has her eye on winning the state championship to wrap up her successful high school golf career.

Kallie’s work ethic is contagious and her Panther teammates are learning from her skills and experience, says Washougal head golf coach Scott Allen.

On Monday, Corrin Kassel shot her best round of the year against Black Hills with a 49. Tessa Anderson and Andrea Gonzalez both shot 57, which was the best they have done so far this season. Even so, the Panthers lost to Black Hills 193 to 198, but the team from Tumwater is one of the best in the state.

“I’m very happy with our team score for this point in the season, this is the best we have done this season,” Allen says. “We will continue to work and see how much better we can do. We have the potential to get better as a team.”

Kallie enjoys playing with her Washougal teammates, but her father is never far away.

“Honestly, he’s the best golf buddy I’ve had in my entire life and to share our favorite game and for him to see me grow as a golfer is a feeling that’s hard to put into words,” says Kallie, who gets emotional when she talks about her close relationship with her dad.

That same emotion flows from David, as he proudly talks about Kallie.

“I’m so proud of her and I’m really going to miss my golfing buddy when she goes to college next fall,” he says. “I mean, her and I play golf all the time … and she’s really about the only person I play with.”