PARACHUTE — Thursday’s season opening golf tournament for Battle Mountain, Eagle Valley, Vail Christian and Vail Mountain at Battlement Mesa in Parachute did not merit either a Homer Simpson “Woo-hoo” or a “d’oh.”
The Huskies were the top team finisher locally with 260 strokes, just ahead of Vail Mountain (261) and Vail Christian (265). The Gore Rangers topped the 3A standings, while the Saints’ Tony Clark put up a 78, the lowest individual score from the local contingent.
The bigger theme of the day was that there is still a lot upon which to work for the Devils, Huskies, Gore Rangers and Saints.
No. 1 on that list seems to be the short game. With Battlement Mesa playing at just 6,037 yards and most players still hitting driver off the tee, players found themselves in trouble or with different distances to the greens than usual.
“It was a little tricky hitting off the tees,” VMS’ Oliver Pesso said. “I think that got some of us.”
This is course management, and one of the most difficult things in high school golf is to get players to stop hitting driver. It’s nice to boom a 300-yarder on the par-4, 365-yard second hole, but it has to be perfect, hit with a draw to cope with the left dogleg. Hit it straight and you’re way off to the right. Hit it with too much draw and you’re in the trees. Either way, this leads to awkward approaches to reach the green in regulation.
Battle Mountain’s Taylor Stoughton and Jack Nicholls came home in 85, while Ryan Hanson carded a 90. Huskies coach Cassie Desmone was pleasantly surprised with the team’s outing, noting longer distance from her players, even though it may have been too much on Thursday.
Sean Weller led VMS with an 84, followed by Dylan Hardengergh (88) and Pesso (89).
HEADING TO LAKOTA CANYON
Learning to leave the driver in the bag on Thursday might be a good thing with the way the early season schedule is. Monday, all four teams go to Lakota Canyon and likely will be playing the blue tees, which measure roughly 6,400 yards. While that is longer than Battlement Mesa, Lakota Canyon does not play that long with a lot of elevated tees, particularly on the front nine.
Look for woods, hybrids and irons off the tee not only Monday, but when the teams come to Gypsum Creek, and its mesa, on Wednesday and Eagle-Vail, which is just tight off the tee, on Thursday.
“They did learn the lesson that a 3-wood or an iron off the tee can be a good thing,” Desmone said. “They can control driver most of the time, but sometimes, I rather have them hit another club.”
Clark’s 78 for Vail Christian was all the more remarkable, given that he carded an eight on the 11th hole, a par-5. That was a key moment for the senior.
“He has a new mental maturity,” Saints coach Chris Coleman said. “He realized what happened, took possession of it and put it behind him. He righted the ship to go around in 78, which is pretty good.”
The Saints’ Cooper Gould finished with an 87 and Caleb Chicoine a 100. Eagle Valley’s Tanner Caldarola led his team with an 86. Michael Sandoval and Carter Coleman made their first varsity appearances as freshmen.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.