Tee time is now for Aspen High boys golf
As difficult as it was to find fault with the Aspen High School boys golf team last season, their youthfulness certainly stood out.
With four sophomores and a freshman making up their varsity five in 2016, this inexperience could have played a factor in their Day 2 struggles at the state golf tournament. The Skiers dropped 10 shots from the first day to the second, and finished fifth overall in Class 3A. They were 33 strokes behind state champion Kent Denver.
“We are older now, so we have more knowledge of what we can do to win,” AHS junior Dom Lanese said. “Last year we were young playing in states. That’s why we didn’t do as well. But this year we have a bunch of older kids that know what to do.”
Aspen gets its 2017 season underway Thursday with a tournament in Cedaredge and another Friday at Devil’s Thumb Golf Club in Delta. The team officially started practice on Monday, a week ahead of all other prep sports teams.
While the team is much older than a year ago, it also has a few new faces working into the varsity lineup. This is due to a couple of major subtractions the team will have to learn to play without.
Jack Pevny, who would have been a sophomore and was their top finisher at the state tournament last year, alongside would-be-junior Jack Hughes, their No. 3 finisher at state last year, will be noticeably absent. Both Pevny and Hughes have decided to attend the Bishops Gate Golf Academy in Florida this year.
“They both are very competitive and I think will push each other tremendously,” longtime AHS golf coach Mary Woulfe said. “It’s exciting they will be there together.”
The team looks to be led by Lanese this season. He is a two-time state qualifier and a former regional champion who finished tied for 22nd at state a year ago, second on the team to Pevny, who tied for 20th, only a stroke ahead. Lanese finished with the best score after the team’s 36-hole tryout Monday and Tuesday at Aspen Golf Club.
“Dom stayed here and worked a lot on his game … I think it really paid off,” Woulfe said. “His energy coming into the season is going to be really fresh and focused. I’m excited to see what he can do.”
Junior Dawson Holmes is the team’s other returning state qualifier alongside Lanese and looks to be the No. 2 golfer. Junior Colter Zwieg, who played some varsity last season although he did not qualify for state, is competing alongside seniors Carter Hall and Henry Ferguson in the varsity hierarchy.
Those five will start the season on varsity for the Skiers. Their goal will be to extend Aspen’s long streak of regional titles, which goes back to when they were in elementary school.
“Yeah, I think there is a little bit more pressure to lead by example and focus,” Lanese said. “Especially losing those two (Pevny and Hughes), it’s going to be a lot. We have to defend that title without them. It’s going to be a little bit difficult, but I think we can still do it.”
With Woulfe and assistant Max Twarjan both returning, the Skiers also added Don Buchholz to the staff. Buchholz has long been the AHS girls golf coach and is a certified PGA professional who was recently honored for attaining 25 years of membership in the association.
Buchholz will work with the varsity team early on before eventually putting his focus on the developmental players.
“We want to really pump up these underclassmen, so in a year or two they are carrying the torch for the team,” Buchholz said. “We will build them up and give them great golf skills.”
Following the opening tournaments Thursday and Friday, Aspen will then play Monday at Battlement Mesa and Tuesday in Eagle-Vail. The team plans to host a small home tournament on Aug. 23.
Aspen’s Class 3A Region 4 golf tournament will be played Sept. 18 at Devil’s Thumb in Delta. The 3A state tournament is Oct. 2-3 at Indian Peaks in Lafayette.
“This year we are looking to be competitive at that level,” Woulfe said. “We will certainly be working hard to get three players or four players to the state tournament this year. We are optimistic, but we are going to have to work hard.”
As a team, Aspen finished third overall in its lone home tournament of the fall. The Skiers shot a collective 239, finishing 12 back of fellow 3A powerhouse Colorado Academy (227). Steamboat Springs, out of 4A, shot 225 to take the win.
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