Welcome back, Alli.
Former Weber State golfer Alli Cluff had a nice little run at last week’s Utah Women’s State Amaterur golf championship. She finished third overall in the stroke play portion of the event, shooting a two-day total of 146 at the Ogden Golf and Country Club.
Then came match play, where she won two matches on Friday and another Saturday morning to advance to the title match against South Jordan’s Sirene Blair. Down by as many as four holes on the front nine, Cluff showed some grit on the back, fighting her way back to even the match at all-square going into the 18th hole.
What happened next was certainly a “record-scratch” moment for the recent WSU grad.
Her tee shot on the final hole -- a difficult par 3 with a green tighter than a new pair of shoes -- was OK, but not great. It missed the green and landed in a sand trap, unfortunately plugging deep in the sand, leaving Cluff with little hope of blasting out in just one shot.
Blair, meanwhile, put her tee shot conservatively on a safe part of the green and rolled her putt inside of “gimmie” length. When Cluff couldn’t get out of the trap with her first swing, she took another crack at it, inching the ball out of the sand but not yet to the green. At that point, she conceded the hole, the match and the championship to Blair.
By now you might be asking, “What’s with the recap, Jim? Didn’t you write all that last weekend?”
Yes, I did.
But here’s what I didn’t write:
Moments after the end of her match, Cluff was asked about her future plans. Often times in situations like that, while golfers are being interviewed immediately after a match or a round, the answer to the “where do you go from here” question involves the next tournament on the schedule or perhaps making a run at turning professional.
Cluff’s response was nothing like those, which is why it caught my attention.
“I actually start my new teaching job on Wednesday,” she said with a certain pride.
She was pressed for more details.
“I’m going to be a new teacher at Fremont High,” she said, making no reference to the fact she was a Fremont student not that long ago. “I’m going to be a math teacher. I have a new teacher meeting on Wednesday and I will probably not be worrying about golf for a while. I’ll be plenty busy.”
As I mentioned earlier, “Welcome back, Alli.”
For those who are too young to remember the old TV sitcom “Welcome Back, Kotter” it was about a guy who returned to his old high school to help shape young minds … or something like that.
So of course, “Welcome back, Alli.”
Cluff said she will continue playing golf when she can and indicated she’ll try to make another run at the Women’s State Am again sometime.
“No, I’m not hanging (the clubs) up forever,” she said.
But for her, right now, teaching is important. And math, like golf, is something she loves. Naturally, teaching math at her alma mater is like scoring a hole-in-one.
For some people, any math beyond adding up the numbers on a scorecard is too much math. It definitely seems to be one of those things, like golf itself, that people either connect with or they don’t.
In math, as in golf, there is a certain exactness involved but there’s also room for creativity. Getting the right answer is critical, yes, but …
“There’s a lot of ways to get there,” said Cluff, who on Wednesday joined former teammates Courtney Saffell, Kristie Jensen and Kaceelyn Pouttu in receiving Scholar All-American honors.
“School has always come pretty easy to me,” Cluff said. “But my personality is one that, if it doesn’t come easy to me, I’ll figure out how to do it. I’m not one to just sit back and not know.”
Well, that confirms it. The Fremont students in Ms. Cluff’s math classes this fall are in good hands.
Welcome back, Alli.
Jim Burton is the Standard-Examiner’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 801-625-4265 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @StandardExJimbo