Aspen High girls golf season tees off as Shannon Worth takes over as head coach

Skiers open the season Friday in Grand Junction

Aspen High School’s girls golf team (from left to right) freshman Eva Thirion, sophomore Jade Hansen, senior Tessa Guthrie, and senior Amanda Simeone practice their drives on the driving range at Aspen Golf Club on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

While Shannon Worth has stepped in as the head coach for the Aspen High School girls golf team this spring, Martha Richards isn’t going to be far away.

Richards, the AHS athletic director who was the team’s head coach the past two seasons and previously coached collegiately at Texas and Vanderbilt, has handed the reins to Worth, although her influence will continue to be felt each day at practice.

“I would have taken five more years learning from her. But I’m super grateful for being able to be under her for a couple of years and have her blessing and be a head coach again,” Worth said Thursday on the eve of the team’s first tournament. “To really be in charge of a program, too, is such a rewarding endeavor. It’s different and it’s more work, but it’s kind of your baby and I’m excited to grow the program from what I’ve learned from Martha.”

Worth has called the Aspen area home for about four-and-a-half years, teaching health and physical education at AHS. She only got into competitive golf upon her arrival in the valley — she did grow up playing casual rounds with her dad — but has allowed the sport to wholly consume her round-by-round.

While golf is still somewhat new to Worth in a competitive sense, she does have plenty of coaching experience, having also served as an AHS assistant for softball and boys golf. She also spent six years as the head gymnastics coach back at a high school in Massachusetts before coming to Aspen.

The Skiers only started practice this week — the rest of Season D officially starts practice Monday — but will send four golfers to a tournament hosted by Palisade on Friday at Chipeta Golf Course near Grand Junction. The team then plays again Monday at Gypsum Creek Golf Course, hosted by Eagle Valley.

Gallery caption: Photos: AHS girls golf practice

There hasn’t been a girls golf season since 2019, as the 2020 spring seasons were canceled for all sports because of the coronavirus pandemic. The 2019 season was big for AHS, as three players — senior Zoe Guthrie, junior Avery Hirsch and junior Hailey Higdon — qualified for the state tournament, letting the Skiers compete as a team for the first time in program history.

Being in the mountains, the long winters have always made girls golf a challenge for Aspen, with spring seasons usually starting in February or March. But, with a pandemic-delayed start this spring, the Skiers were able to practice on an actual golf course from the start — as opposed to a simulator or net — something that should be a huge benefit for the team.

“We want to grow this game, especially for girls and women. I think this is a big thing for getting to play outside for two months,” Worth said. “It’s a completely different experience for these girls who have a thirst for playing golf.”

The regular season is scheduled to go through May, with AHS tentatively set to host a home tournament on May 24. Regional tournaments will be in early-to-mid June, while the Class 3A state golf tournament is scheduled for June 21 and 22 at Elmwood Golf Course in Pueblo.


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