Strong start for Aspen, Basalt golfers |

Strong start for Aspen, Basalt golfers

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

BATTLEMENT MESA, Colo. – Aspen and Basalt passed the first test.

In Thursday’s opener at Battlement Mesa Golf Club, typically one of the season’s toughest tests, the local boys golf teams stood tall. Both produced three scores of 85 or better and both finished in the top three among 3A schools.

Skiers freshman Jesse Beetham proved his performance in Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s 36-hole team qualifier (he shot 73 and 78, eight strokes better than his closest teammate) was no fluke. He finished with a 6 over-par round of 78 in his varsity debut to lead Aspen to a second-place finish. Coulter Young shot 83 and Conor Hansen 85 for the Skiers, who were 10 strokes behind tournament winner Montrose (236).

“He played pretty well in that tryout, and I think that gave him a boost of confidence,” Aspen assistant coach Brian Dalla Betta said of Beetham. “We didn’t have a time that everyone broke 90 in a tournament last year, so this is a good showing. … I think they’re all excited about the start to the season.”

Aspen showcased its depth Thursday. While only the top three scores count toward the team total, Tommy Doyle and Omri Gildor had impressive showings with 86 and 87, respectively.

Basalt finished four strokes behind its valley rival, thanks to the strong play of senior Patrick Hall and freshman Dylan Rakowski, who both carded 83s. The Longhorns could have vaulted into second had it not been for an unlucky 84 from team No. 1 Marty Knous.

Knous’ misfortune came to a head at the par-5 17th where, after bombing a drive more than 300 yards, he opted to go for the green in two. His well-struck iron shot drifted more than 20 yards beyond the putting surface. After his ball landed in a cluster of bushes and was deemed unplayable, Knous took a drop about 100 yards away, near the 18th tee box. He finished with a double bogey.

Knous had similar struggles at Battlement Mesa in 2008’s opener; his approach at the 13th landed in a green-side bunker, and he needed two shots to get out of the sand. He went on to three-putt for a triple bogey en route to a lackluster 86.

“It wasn’t a bad shot, just a horrible result – there were a couple holes where that was sort of the case,” Basalt head coach Steve Knous said of his son’s travails at 17 on Thursday. “I guess the bottom line is I’m not worried about Marty. I know in a normal situation those shots would’ve worked out perfectly. Maybe his adrenaline was pumping … He was ripping the ball, and hitting his irons too far. That’s a problem I’d like to have.”

Hall and Rakowski had few hiccups, Steve Knous said.

“They seemed to be playing so consistent. … They were hitting shots for the most part down the middle of the fairway, and there weren’t a lot of bad shots – at least not when I was around,” Knous added. “I was impressed. I feel good about my top three guys.

“This was a new experience for Dylan. He plays in junior tournaments, but when you show up and have 100 guys all around, it’s a different feel. It looked like it wasn’t bothering him at all.”

Both Basalt and Aspen tee off next Monday at Bookcliff Golf Course in Grand Junction.

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