Aspen’s Clayton Crawford to play golf at TCU |

Aspen’s Clayton Crawford to play golf at TCU

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times
Aspen High School Athletic Director Carol Sams (second from right) presides over another college signing. AHS grad Clayton Crawford gathered with his family, coaches Mary Woulfe and Alden Richards and Sams for his signing ceremony to play golf at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.
Courtesy photo |

Clayton Crawford is following in his father’s footsteps.

But he’s wearing different shoes and leaving his own footprint.

Crawford, an Aspen High School honor student who will graduate Saturday, signed this week to play NCAA Division I golf at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.

The all-around prep athlete, who also was an all-state basketball player, had interest from some Division II and Division III colleges for basketball and golf.

But he opted instead for D-I golf at TCU, where his family roots run deep.

“Coach Bill Montigel is giving me this opportunity, and I’m really excited about it,” Crawford said of the longtime TCU golf coach. “I can’t claim to be heavily recruited, but he gave me this opportunity when a lot of other schools didn’t.”

The AHS senior said he hopes to make the most of the Texas Christian opportunity.

“I’ve still got to go prove myself and work hard every day,” said Crawford, who didn’t shy away from hard work on the driving range, the putting green or in the gymnasium while he was in high school.

Tennis All-American

“My father (Randy Crawford) and his side of the family grew up in Fort Worth,” Crawford said. “He was a pretty good tennis player … he was an All-American, and he’s in the (TCU) Hall of Fame now.”

He said he’s been aware of TCU since he was a little tyke.

“I guess it’s in my blood,” said the lanky, 6-4 Crawford, who played varsity golf all four years at Aspen High School. He also qualified for the State Golf Championships all four years.

“Clayton was a coach’s dream,” Aspen High School golf coach Mary Woulfe said. “Even as a freshman, he was extremely talented. But he was very humble, very open-minded.”

She said Crawford has the unique ability to “keep his cool.”

“I call him clean-cut cool. He has an unusual level of maturity … he stays even. It’s that emotional control that sets him apart,” said Woulfe, who marveled at how adept Crawford was at helping the other players on the team.

“Clayton’s got all the foundational elements he needs,” Wolfe said, adding that Crawford was a model of practice behavior and discipline as a high school player.

Fatherly advice

Woulfe said she asked Crawford where he learned such sporting discipline.

“He told me it was from his father,” Woulfe said.

For his part, TCU coach Montigel said, “We’re excited to have him be part of our program. He’s a good athlete; he’s got tremendous potential.”

Montigel said he had been aware of Randy Crawford and his tennis exploits at TCU for many years.

Soon after joining the TCU staff 27 years ago, Montigel and his colleagues played tennis at a Fort Worth club where Randy Crawford was the tennis pro after his All-American career with the Horned Frogs. Years later, Montigel said a basketball video caught the TCU golf coach’s eye.

“I saw this video of Clayton playing basketball,” Montigel said.

Crawford, in the video, followed up a teammate’s missed shot with a resounding putback slam dunk.

“I saw that and I said, ‘There’s no one on this team that can do that,” Montigel said of the 6-4 power forward/prep golfer. “I was intrigued because of his athleticism.”

Plus, Montigel said, as soon as you meet Clayton Crawford you are impressed.

“He’s got that personality; he’s the kind of guy you like to be around,” the TCU coach said, adding that Crawford will have a lot of work ahead as he steps up to a top-flight collegiate team that features four international standouts, including Julian Brun, a college golfer from France who played in the Crown Plaza Invitational PGA event last weekend in Fort Worth.

“It’s going to be great to learn from these guys,” Crawford said of the TCU roster that also features players from Brazil and Italy. “They are incredible golfers.”

Crawford said Woulfe and former AHS coach Alden Richards did a good job preparing the prep golfers at AHS.

“Mary has been awesome at encouraging us,” Crawford said. “She’s great at setting us up with drills. She keeps it light so we are having fun and still learning.”

Hoop dreams

He said the Aspen basketball experience was also memorable.

“I’m really glad I was part of the basketball program here at Aspen High School,” Crawford said. “Coach K (Steve Ketchum) has been a great influence.”

He said that golf is an individual sport while basketball helped him in the team aspect.

“Basketball has helped me turn into more of a leader for my peers,” Crawford said, specifically pointing to the examples set by former AHS standouts Bridger Dawson and Austin Roarke.

“I learned a lot from the seniors … especially my freshman year. Austin Roarke … he was a great ballplayer. But from him, what I wanted to learn was his leadership,” said Crawford, the son of Randy and Abigail Crawford. He has a younger sister, Olivia.

“I knew Clayton was special when I saw him as an eighth-grader at the end of the year, playing against the faculty,” said longtime Aspen High School basketball coach Steve Ketchum, who stepped down at the end of last season.

He coached Crawford throughout high school.

Ketchum said that right after Christmas in his freshman year, Crawford was elevated to the varsity starting lineup.

“He was there ever since,” Ketchum said of the four-year starter, who earned all-conference basketball honors three times. Twice he was voted all-state.

“He’s one of the best leaders I’ve ever had … the best role model ever,” Ketchum said of his nearly 20-year career at AHS.

“He’s the son of a coach, and he not only embraced that, he loved it,” Ketchum said.

“I’ve had Clayton speak at basketball camps. I’ve had him speak to the (high school) team,” Ketchum said. “He’s the ultimate competitor. He’s what you would want your child to be.”

Crawford, who will turn his full attention to golf now, said he’s excited about working on all phases of his golf game in college. He’ll work on his chipping and putting … “getting out of sticky situations.”

He’s also eager for the academic challenge.

“TCU’s got great academics. I think I’m going to major in business,” said Crawford, who also co-founded a club at Aspen High School called the Circle of Friends Club.

“Mary Landis and I , we co-founded the club …. that was a great experience,” Crawford said of the Circle of Friends group that developed a program to help senior citizens with their cellphones and wireless devices.

“It was good to try to teach the senior citizens about technology,” Crawford said. “But it was also great just to sit there and talk to them on a personal level. I heard some great stories.”

While his father made headlines as a tennis player and tennis coach, including a stint coaching Martina Navratilova, Clayton Crawford said he turned to golf early.

“My dad claims there’s a story where I was little … 4 or 5. He put a tennis racket in my hand,” Clayton Crawford said.

When dad tried to offer a few tennis pointers, Crawford said he dropped the tennis racket.

“I was done,” Crawford said with a chuckle as he recalled his dad’s story. “I know tennis would have been a great sport for me. But I’m thankful my father didn’t try to push me into anything. He’s always been supportive of me.”

And his parents were always there to cheer him on, he said.

“They were always there. They were at Gunnison … Moffat County (Craig). They’ve been incredible,” Crawford said of his parents. “And they’ve traveled to a lot of golf tournaments with me.”

Just last summer, Crawford said he and his mother drove to Missouri for a junior tournament.

“It’s been an unbelievable ride,” Crawford said.

Next destination: Fort Worth, Texas.

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