Aspen High athletic director Martha Richards to coach girls golf team this spring
Martha Richards didn’t have to go far to find a qualified coach for the Aspen High School girls golf team this spring. A former LPGA pro and collegiate coach, the current AHS athletic director felt confident she could juggle both roles and step in to lead the Skiers on the golf course.
“It’s not an unusual thing to have an AD coach,” Richards said, “and I think girls golf is one of the sports that will probably have the least impact in terms of my ability to be available for all the other sports too.”
Richards takes over for Don Buchholz, a certified PGA professional who recently moved to Florida after a long stint in the Aspen area. On top of being the head girls coach, Buchholz had been an assistant for the boys, including this past fall when they won their first state championship.
For Richards, getting back to her roots as a coach was an exciting prospect.
“It will be really energizing to get back into coaching. That is definitely something I miss a little bit, working with kids a little bit more,” Richards said. “My goal for this is we have a lot of fun doing it and they learn how to stretch themselves and that they get better.”
From a resume standpoint, Richards wasn’t going to find anyone much better. A Wisconsin native, Richards went to Stanford to play basketball, where she helped the Cardinal win a national championship. She then transitioned over to golf, where she was named an all-American before a brief stint on the LPGA Tour.
Richards jumped head first into coaching when she took over the Boise State program in 1998. She was only there a year before becoming an assistant, a rare position in women’s golf, at the University of Texas. In 2000, she became the head coach at Vanderbilt, where she rebuilt the program. She was twice named SEC coach of the year and was the 2004 Golfweek national coach of the year.
Richards returned to Texas as the head coach in 2007, where she remained before stepping away from coaching in 2014. After that, she helped start a golf software company called BirdieFire before becoming the AHS athletic director ahead of the 2017-18 school year.
“There will be a big difference. I was coaching kids who were all-Americans and going on the LPGA Tour,” Richards said of transitioning to coaching high schoolers. “Part of my job as a coach is to grow the game of golf, and especially on the women’s side of things. We want to help them improve their skills and want to make sure they really like golf.”
Girls golf has always been a challenge in the mountains. The team usually only gets to swing a club on a real course during competitions, which are held predominantly near Grand Junction this early in the spring. Otherwise, the team spends most of its time training indoors or at the Aspen Golf Club simulator until the snow melts closer to home.
This will provide a hurdle or two, but Richards feels her background coaching high-level players will help in finding creative ways to overcome a lack of course time.
“There are a lot of things in golf you can do to get better that doesn’t involve hitting a golf ball outside. With that said, there is no substitute for hitting the ball off the ground,” Richards said. “I’m looking forward to helping these girls really like golf and get better at it. However we perform, we perform, as long as we put the best of ourselves out there every day.”
The Skiers are scheduled to get their season underway Monday at Chipeta Golf Course outside Grand Junction. AHS has a home meet tentatively scheduled for April 17 at the Aspen Golf Club.
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