From skier to golfer, Logan Hale making her mark
15-year-old already has shot a 68 at Eagle Ranch
It happens often.
John and Logan Hale show up at the first tee at Eagle Ranch for a round. The Hales are paired with another twosome.
Inevitably, one or both from the other twosome will make a facial expression or a shrug that says, “Shoot, we’re playing with a girl.”
And then Logan Hale, 15 years old and a possessor of 2.5 handicap, steps to the tee and wipes off whatever smirk is on anyone’s face.
Yep, she averages 250 yards-and-change off the tee. Her iron play is precisely dialed in their distances. If she’s sinking putts, you’ll lose your shirt if you made some bets, but Hale is too involved in her own game to make a wager.
As a freshman, in her first high school tournament, competing for the Vail Mountain School, Hale posted a 68 at Eagle Ranch, the new women’s course record.
In short, Logan Hale is the best golfer ever produced by the Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy.
Golf is boring
The Hale family ostensibly moved from Colorado Springs to Eagle and the High Country because John had a job offer and the Hale family wanted Logan to be a part of Ski & Snowboard Club Vail and the accompanying Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy.
Then 11, Hale did what every aspiring Lindsey Vonn or Mikaela Shiffrin did — train and study. While she was leaning more toward the tech side as her career was developing, it is important to remember that the Hales play golf during the summer.
Even if Logan wasn’t a big fan of the game.
“So my dad was always a golfer, so I’ve always been a golfer,” Logan said. “I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to watch it. It was boring.”
But like a lot of people who think that, once one swings a club and feels the ball bounce off the club face just right, that started to change.
As the father-daughter outings to Eagle Ranch continued, not only was the pupil enjoying golf more, but she showed promise.
“It became addicting,” Logan said.
And a change in sport was underway.
The shift from skiing to golf did not come with all the fanfare of LeBron James taking his talents to South Beach.
“It wasn’t surprising. It wasn’t overnight,” Hale said. “Everyone recognized that I was falling out of love with ski racing and picking up something else. Gradually, my passion shifted.”
By the end of her eighth grade year, or the 2019-20 Alpine season, the Hale Family, SSCV and Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy all made the decision. Logan would continue at VSSA, but continue her studies and training with golf.
And, yes, Hale still uses her Alpine background on the links.
The first tie between the two sports is obvious — lower body strength is a requirement for both pursuits. No, of course, she doesn’t have the tree-trunk-like legs of athletes on World Cup downhill circuit, but she brought that lower-body strength from Alpine and continues to work it.
That explains how a mild-mannered 15-year-old can crush the ball 250 yards off the tee.
The other is not so obvious — the mind game.
“Every time, I made a turn in ski racing I was thinking about how I could improve that turn,” Hale said. “Golf is just like that. You’re trying to get better all the time. And focusing for a certain amount of time with golf helped me in ski racing (when still doing both). Golf helped me calm down on race days.”
Teeing it up
Like a lot of players, Hale had her share of ugly moments early on the golf course. She carded scores in the neighborhood of 110, but saw that start to drop through the traditional barriers of 100, 90 and 80.
“I had broken par for nine holes, but not 18,” said Hale of her 68 in the Vail Mountain School golf tournament at Eagle Ranch. “I never had shot in the 60s. One of my goals was to break 70. My dad always says, ‘Aim high and aim small and miss small.’ That was a goal and I got it and we’re not already halfway through the year.”
Shifting from skiing to golf has uprooted the Hale family’s lives. Instead of traveling all over the country for skiing, the Hales are chasing the sun. Attending VSSA allows Hale to head down to Arizona for stretches during the winter to keep working on her game. Golf simulators are also a popular activity for Hale.
Between Colorado and Arizona, Hale is getting pro instruction year-round, which is how it needs to be. Hale wants to play in college — and she’s looking at some big schools like Stanford, UCLA, Arizona State and Duke — with an eye toward the LPGA Tour. (If you’re wondering, Hale is equally adept in the classroom as she is on a golf course.)
Since Stanford came up, Tiger Woods is obviously a person to whom Hale looks, but closer to home it’s Jennifer Kupcho.
Born in Littleton, Kupcho got a scholarship to Wake Forest and won the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in 2019 before joining the LPGA. For the record, Kupcho attended Jefferson Academy, a small school against whom Vail Mountain School often competes, come the postseason.
In the meantime, Hale has a busy summer ahead. Yes, she competes for Vail Mountain in the high-school realm of golf, but it’s also about events with the Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado, the American Junior Golf Association, other national qualifiers and events, not to mention more organizations that sound like alphabet soup.
But as her father encouraged her, she is aiming high and small.
“All those teams and schools are already looking at the Class of 2024,” Hale said. “All these schools have their eyes on people to watch. I need to keep practicing really hard and get my name out there.”