High hopes for Aspen, Basalt golfers | AspenTimes.com

High hopes for Aspen, Basalt golfers

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Paul Conrad The Aspen Times

ASPEN – Their bodies are filling out. Their games have vastly improved – some are driving the ball as many as 60 yards farther than this time a year ago.

But can a young Aspen golf team go the distance in 3A this season? Aspen head coach Mary Woulfe is not about to make any bold prognostications just yet.

“I’m trying to keep my expectations low because there’s a lot of competition out there,” Woulfe said Wednesday, on the eve of her squad’s season-opening tournament at Battlement Mesa Golf Club in Parachute. “I’m certainly excited about watching them grow, watching them get bigger and stronger and getting more experience.”

The Skiers’s top three players from 2008 return – sophomores Bobby Moyer, Coulter Young and Omri Gildor. “The sophomores are the meat of the team,” Woulfe said. “They’re what is going to make the team strong. They’re going to push each other.”

Young was an honorable mention all-conference selection in 2008. Moyer won at the Glenwood Springs Country Club, and he and Gildor both made state tournament appearances. Gildor almost missed the chance; he had to beat out five teammates in a squad qualifier to nab Aspen’s fourth and final spot for the regional tournament.

That depth should be a major factor again, as Woulfe expects many of the team’s 17 players to battle for playing time.

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“Competing to get one of these spots is a big deal to these kids,” she said. “They all want to do well.”

Among them is freshman Jesse Beetham, who provided a glimpse of things to come when he fired a team-best 73 on Tuesday on the first day of 36-hole qualifying; the top five players will travel to Parachute. Moyer was second at 75, while senior Conor Hansen and Gildor finished with 84 and 86, respectively. Seven players shot 90 or better.

Moyer and Beetham could provide quite the 1-2 punch this season – when Moyer competes. He’s one of the nation’s top young skiers and has decided that racing is his top priority, Woulfe said.

“His commitment to skiing comes first, and I think that’s good. He now knows what his priority is,” she added. “He’s going to play golf to enjoy the game and enjoy being on the team. He has the capability of winning every time he tees it up in any event.”

Basalt’s Marty Knous possesses similar potential. The senior, whose carefree demeanor served him well as he adapted to life as the Longhorns’ No. 1 last fall, picked up one victory in 2008 and was a first-team all-conference selection.

“He’s a smart player ad has a lot of experience under his belt,” head coach Steve Knous said of his son. “He hasn’t played a ton this summer, but he knows how things work. He may be a little rusty … but he’ll be ready. Once the season starts, he gets dialed in. He’s a competitive guy and wants to do well.”

Marty Knous and all-conference honorable mention selection Patrick Hall will lead a Longhorns squad that includes returners Luke Newberry and Kyp Schoon and eight new faces.

While the season is young – Basalt practiced for the first time Tuesday before hosting a 18-hole qualifier Wednesday at Ironbridge in Glenwood Springs – Steve Knous said there is reason for optimism.

“I think we’ve got the potential to be quite a bit better than last year,” he added. “We’re probably not good enough to re-live the glory days we had a few years ago … but no doubt, we’ll be much more competitive.”

The Longhorns won back-to-back regional crowns in 2006 and 2007, thanks in large part to the play of Jim Knous and Connor Rakowski, who have since taken their games to the college level. Knous, now a sophomore at Colorado School of Mines, earned medalist honors in 14 of his 21 prep tournaments.

Connor Rakowski’s brother Dylan is one of a host of new freshman vying for playing time this year.

“The Rakowskis have golf in their DNA, so I’m hoping he’ll be able to contribute as soon as possible,” Steve Knous said. “I’m happy to have a dozen guys to pick the top five from. That’s got to make us a better team.”

He’ll know more today after his team tees off at Battlement Mesa, traditionally one of the season’s toughest tests. Marty Knous fired an 11-over par 86 in the 2008 season opener and the Longhorns didn’t factor in the race for the team title.

“It’s a really good test of golf and will separate the really good guys from the not-so good,” Knous said. “The impostors will get revealed early.”

jmaletz@aspentimes.com

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