AHS boys golf primed for magical season
Dawson Holmes was pretty blunt about his expectations this fall, and his views were shared by just about everyone on the Aspen High School boys golf team. In short, they expect to win a state championship.
“We really have a lot of players that can shoot in the 60s and what it’s all going to come down to is who is playing well, when,” Holmes said. “Who is peaking at the right time? Because all of us can win the state tournament.”
From experience to depth to raw talent, the Skiers have something of a dream team heading into the season. Despite official practices having only gotten underway Monday, Aspen will travel to Devil’s Thumb in Delta on Friday for its first tournament of the season.
However, all eyes already are honed in on the Class 3A state tournament, held Oct. 1 and 2 at Boulder Country Club.
“We got a lot of weight on our shoulders knowing we have to win states with this group, because we can all shoot 67, 68,” Aspen’s Dominic Lanese said. “I’m almost 100 percent sure we can do it. We’ll see when we get there who the four are going to be.”
Lanese, Holmes, Colter Zwieg and Jack Hughes all are seniors, with junior Jack Pevny and younger brother Nic Pevny, a freshman, rounding out the varsity team this fall. Lanese has been to the state tournament all three years, while Holmes has been the past two. Hughes made the state tournament as a freshman and sophomore before sitting out his junior season. Zwieg went to state for the first time last fall as a junior.
“I’ve been thinking about it since freshman year, because I knew we were going to be solid going into our senior year with the depth we were going to have,” Zwieg said. “Then when Jack and Jack left, I still thought we were going to have a good shot, but with them back I feel we are favorites to win it. So I’m really excited to see what we can do this year as far as the state tournament goes.”
Along with Hughes, Jack Pevny opted to sit out the high school season last fall to attend the Bishops Gate Golf Academy, just outside Orlando, Florida. Even Nic Pevny, then only an eighth grader, attended last season, and all say they are noticeably better golfers for it.
“Just a lot more consistent. I don’t see many rounds into the 80s nowadays, which is a good thing,” Jack Pevny said. “The golf was very top notch. Great coaches, great practice facilities we could use whenever we wanted. I made a lot of good friends that I still stay in touch with and plan on keeping in touch with for a long time from all around the world.”
Typically, a varsity golf team would have four players, the maximum number a team can send to the state tournament, outside of alternates. Aspen’s problem, if you dare call it that, is it has six golfers capable of shooting under par on any given day. Simple math says that in the end two of them won’t be playing in the season finale in Boulder.
“We have six guys that could tee it up at any one time at the state tournament and win it. That’s going to be the hard part, is how do I choose four?” longtime AHS golf coach Mary Woulfe said. “When we go to the state tournament, we are going as a team of six. Whichever two aren’t playing, they are there, they are going to be spotting for our guys, and this is a team effort.”
As the season gets underway, the players don’t feel overly concerned by the competition. If anything, they are embracing it and know they need to be on point each round to be among the four playing at the end of the season.
“I try not to worry about it so much. I try to do my own thing and so far that’s worked out,” Jack Pevny said. “We are all striving for the common goal of winning the state championship, and it’s cool to see when all of our games peak at the same time.”
More than one of Aspen’s six will likely play college golf. Zwieg spent all summer trying to convince the coach at NCAA Division III Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina, to add him to the team after he graduates.
Well, persistence pays off.
“I got the email a couple of weeks ago saying I was on the team, so the rest of this is just fun,” Zwieg said. “That really makes it easy to play golf. You are not worried. You can just go out there and play and have fun.”
No doubt already getting some looks is the younger Pevny. Nic recently won the boys’ 12-13 age division at the 2018 Optimist International Junior Golf Championships, a prestigious 54-hole tournament that wrapped up July 22 at the PGA National Resort in West Palm Beach, Florida. Competing against more than 100 elite golfers from around the world at that age, Nic Pevny shot a 1-over 217 over three rounds to win by two strokes.
Woulfe made clear it was “a really big deal.” Even so, Nic Pevny knows making that state foursome as a freshman isn’t going to be easy, but he still feels good about where his game is.
“I just stuck to my game plan and did really well. I improved a lot going to golf school last year,” Nic Pevny said. “I’m pretty confident. Everyone else is pretty good, so it’s going to be hard to get one of those spots.”
Aspen finished third as a team at the state tournament in both 2015 and 2017, with a fifth place coming in 2016. AHS has never won a team state title in boys golf.
Last year’s third-place finish came despite any Aspen golfer finishing at or under par. Both Lanese and Holmes led the way with a 1-over 73 in the rain-shortened tournament to finish tied for fourth, four strokes behind 3A state champion Davis Long of Peak to Peak. Zwieg was the third scoring player for Aspen last year, shooting 6-over 78 to tie for 20th.
“This is an incredibly talented group,” Woulfe said of the Aspen six. “We are really hopeful we can be competitive at the state level, but we don’t know what the competition is like yet.”
The Skiers will find out soon enough, as they’ll play four tournaments in five days next week, including a home tournament on Aug. 17 at Aspen Golf Club.
It would be easy enough to quantify long-distance adventures in Snowmass Village by the usual stats and figures: 90-plus miles of singletrack and dirt roads, four core endurance races every summer, infinite route combinations no more than a few hundred yards from the nearest parking spot or bus stop. But there’s another metric worth clocking too: Smiles per hour.
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