Cassie Castleman of Lincoln looks to make a splash professionally
As the defending state champion, Cassie Castleman is something of a celebrity in Class 4A girls golf. But the Lincoln High senior isn't a household name and usually doesn't stand out on her school's home course, RedTail.
Some of the younger boys team golfers at her own school don't even know who she is.
'Being the state champion
hasn't been that big of a deal. It is to me and my family, but that's about it,' she says, looking over her shoulder as Blazer guard Scottie Pippen prepares to tee off for a quick nine holes at RedTail, located on Southwest Scholls Ferry Road.
Castleman, 17, has plans to change that and in a big way. She already has signed to play college golf at the University of Idaho, and her sights are set on making an impact professionally.
'I want to bring femininity to the women's game,' she says. 'The women's game needs something to spice it up and make it interesting. It bothers me that more players can't wear cute outfits and look good. And why does everyone have to wear a hat?
'The women's game needs someone like an Anna Kournikova. Maybe not quite exactly like Anna, but someone to bring a sense of style and femininity to the game, someone who will keep people interested.'
Castleman is the favorite to win the Portland Interscholastic League title for a second straight year and lead the Cardinals to the team title as well. Those are key accomplishments for her because that's her role at Lincoln Ñ golfer.
'I feel at home on the golf course, a lot more at home than I do at school,' says Castleman, who sported a 3.8 GPA last semester. 'So much of my life has been on a golf course. That's where I'm comfortable.'
A great swing
Castleman says the best part of her game is her swing, especially off the tee. She points to her rounds of 75 at the state tournament last year. Her 150 total was good for a one-stroke victory.
'My first round was the most boring round ever,' she says. 'It was just straight out 240 yards in the middle of the fairway, then onto the green and two-putt for par. But that's how you win.'
Castleman's private coach for the last three years, Arrowhead Golf Course pro Bruce Stewart, says she has the talent to play professionally.
'She's got a great swing, and she's a strong girl; she hits the ball a long way,' he says. 'She's a natural talent. If she can survive the trials and tribulations of getting to the professional level, I think she has the game to get there.'
Castleman has played with the same clubs since she was in the seventh grade and only last year bought a new driver. She started focusing on earning a college scholarship as an 11-year-old, and kept that dream as a freshman and sophomore at St. Mary's Academy, where she helped the Blues win the state team title as a sophomore.
Castleman has the idea that if she can play into the top 10 at the college level, turning professional will be a realistic option.
'I think it's just a matter of getting older and more experienced,' Castleman says. 'My swing is pretty much in a groove, so I just need to work on the different aspects of playing better consistently, picking a target and executing. A lot of that is being mentally tough.
'And if it doesn't work out that I make it professionally, I'll use golf to fall back on in some different form. Golf is a big business, and there's plenty of ways to make it a career. Maybe I can give Scottie Pippen some tips on how to play better and sell him some life insurance at the same time. Who knows?'
Castleman is the prep player to beat this season, and there are plenty of experienced challengers. Junior Molly Edmunds of Glencoe finished second last year. Sophomore Courtney Sullivan of Barlow and senior Lindsay Eide of Bend were fourth and fifth, respectively. Sophomore Stephanie Johns of Ashland and Summer Smith of North Salem return from top-10 finishes.
Castleman plays against most of those players during the summer and shot her best round, a 69, against Eide in the state match-play tournament last year.
'It's not going to be easy winning again,' Castleman says. 'But I think I'm more motivated to win this year than last year because I want to prove I can defend my title.'
Taya Batistella, who co-coaches Lincoln's boys team, says that winning the state title while at Bend High actually helped her play better the following years.
'People expected me to do well (as a junior and senior), and everyone started watching me, but I liked that,' she says. 'The pressure made me play better.'
Lincoln isn't the team to beat at the state level Ñ the Cardinals were 17th out of 18 teams last year Ñ but Castleman is enjoying helping the other six players on her team get better.
Once the prep season ends, Castleman will be off to the amateur circuit and then to Moscow, Idaho, and the Big West Conference. She'll probably be taking several suitcases with her because of a penchant for shopping.
If her playing career continues to evolve, perhaps one day she'll be on a first-name basis with Pippen and other entertainment types.
'That would be pretty cool,' she says. 'I would love that.'