When Owen Huntington joined the Camas High School (CHS) boys golf team as a freshman in the fall of 2017, he took the 4A Greater St. Helens League by storm and ended the season with a top-five finish at the 4A state tournament. As a sophomore this past spring, he placed 10th at the state tournament, held at the Creek at Qualchan Golf Course in Spokane.
Now the Papermakers are about to get a second Huntington who shoots around even par.
Just like his older brother, Eli Huntington plays golf year-round, and like Owen competes on the Oregon Junior Golf Tour (OJGT), which takes them to tournaments all over Oregon most weekends.
On June 7-8, Eli became the youngest golfer ever to compete at the Royal Oaks Invitational, Clark County’s premier golfing event, and held his own against the best players in the region. The Huntington brothers are members at Royal Oaks and practice there daily.
Achieving success while working through pain
Owen withdrew from the Royal Oaks Invitational due to back pain. He’s been dealing with the issue since the 4A District 4 tournament last October, when he finished second after losing in a playoff to Anthony Tobias of Battle Ground.
“Last fall I remember my physical therapist said there is something (wrong) with a nerve in my lower back, and I’m just trying to work through it and fought it at state, but it really started acting up (at the Royal Oaks Invitational),” Owen said. “I’m just working through it, but I’ll be fine.”
Camas boys golf coach Ed Givens said Owen, who was named to the Columbian’s all-region team this spring, is a hard-working, goal-oriented player who has a genuine love for the game.
“Owen plays at a high level, and his knowledge of the game is a true asset to the team,” Givens said.
Owen is also an excellent student who helped the Papermakers win the 4A academic state championship this year.
Lee Huntington, mother to Owen and Eli, said Owen has always been focused, disciplined and confident.
“When he developed a passion for golf, he applied his personality strengths and natural athleticism to become the best golfer he could be,” she said.
New talent, new rules for Camas boys golf
When Eli arrives at CHS in September, the Papermakers will have at least two and possibly three golfers capable of shooting even par, something new for the Papermakers.
In the past two seasons, Owen was the only Camas golfer to compete at the state tournament. Givens has high expectations for the season.
“Camas will field a deep team that should challenge for a berth to next season’s state tournament,” he said.
In addition to Eli and Owen, incoming freshman Evan Chen also brings a wealth of junior golf tournament experience to the Papermakers’ lineup.
Owen and Eli practice together daily, just like they have since their father introduced them to golf about eight years ago. Owen said they learned as kids by playing at Camas Meadows Golf Club and Green Mountain Golf Course, which is now a housing development.
“We really liked it and kept playing, but we did other sports as well, (like) basketball and baseball,” Owen said.
When Owen was asked if he and his brother can beat his father in golf, he chuckled and said, “Yes.”
The passion for golf in both of her sons comes from within, Lee said.
“This sport was not pushed on them,” she said. ‘They each take the lead in managing their practice and tournament schedules, maintenance of equipment, etc.”
Lee said her boys are dedicated to healthy lifestyles, based on whole fresh foods, filtered water and proper sleep.
For Owen, the upcoming season is an exciting, new opportunity to lead the Papermakers to the state tournament. The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) changed many of its rules this past season to make high school golf more team oriented instead of focusing on individual players.
For Camas, the timing could not be better.
“It’s going to be a mindset adjustment being on a competitive team,” Owen said. “It will definitely be interesting, and we will have a good time.”
While the brothers are looking forward to teeing it up for the Papermakers, they still have three months of Oregon junior golf tournaments, plus daily training and practice, to get even better.