VMS takes 12th at state golf tournament | VailDaily.com

VMS takes 12th at state golf tournament

Vail Mountain School's Ben Barron jars it birdie on the fifth hole at Eagle Ranch during the 3A boys' state golf championship on Tuesday. Barron tied for 41st place while the Gore Rangers finished 12th as a team.
Townsend Bessent | Townsend@vaildaily.com |

Class 4A State golf

Eagle Valley’s Barrett Jones finished tied for 29th at the 4A state tournament at the Fox Hill Club in Longmont. The sophomore carded rounds of 80 and 78 on par-70 loop.

EAGLE — Orange works for golf, too.

OK, the ball is smaller. The net/hole is really smaller and kicking is strictly forbidden, but it was the 3A state tournament on Monday and Tuesday at the Eagle Ranch Golf Club and the Vail Mountain School was there.

Ergo, they busted out and rocked the orange.

“It was a really cool moment for us,” VMS’ Sean Weller said. “We got to wear playoff orange, and that was awesome.”

“Looking back on the four years of varsity golf with Oliver (Pesso) and Sean (Weller), it was definitely a memorable experience.”Ben BarronVail Mountain School

The real winner of the 36-hole tournament was Eagle Ranch. It’s a great course to play for the recreational golfer, but it can be quite amped up for a tournament like this. Only Peak to Peak’s Sam Taylor was in red numbers at 3-under par. There was a three-way tie for second at plus-6.

Given that Eagle Ranch appropriately pummeled the best of 3A, VMS’ three seniors, Oliver Pesso, Ben Barron and Weller, did well to finish 12th in the state.

“It’s been great,” Pesso said. “I couldn’t ask for a better way to end. We had fun coming down here and playing the course. It was definitely an advantage, whether it played out that way or not.”

Number crunching

With golfers teeing off nos. 1 and 10, it could get a little confusing as to what the back nine was. For Pesso, when he referred to the back nine, he was most definitely talking about Eagle Ranch’s vaunted back nine, nos. 10-18.

Pesso was just fine on the regular front nine, shooting a 37 and 38 in two days. The back was an issue — 16-over par combined on Monday and Tuesday.

Because Pesso’s a stat geek, like most golfers, he wasn’t the only one. According to the Colorado Golf Association’s breakdown of the tournament, golfers shot an average of 44.2 on the back, or 16-over par, on that nine on Monday and Tuesday.

The par-5 12th ended up being the toughest hole by scoring average, edging out the other par-5 on the ride home, No. 16.

Pesso had troubles where one would expect, with a double on No. 11, the fiendish par-3, on Monday, and a hockey stick on No. 12 on Tuesday.

And as anyone who has ever played Eagle Ranch knows, the last stretch of nos. 16, 17 and 18 also tend to take their pound of flesh.

“Today I had some chances,” Pesso said. “I was only 6-over par until I got to 16.”

Pesso shot 81-82 to finish in a tie for 22nd, including birdies on nos. 1 and 5. Pesso, who tracks his scoring average like most brokers follow the stock market, nonetheless, felt that he had a “stellar” year and is hoping to continue playing in college.

‘Go big or go home’

Barron was coming off one of the worst rounds of his high school career at regionals up at Steamboat, but he started well with an 86 on Monday. The par-3s were his friends throughout the tourney. Even with a bogey and a triple on the 11th — which is probably the hardest par-3 in the country — on consecutive days, Barron shot a mere plus-3 on the par-3s during the tournament. He visited the aviary on No. 15 on Monday and No. 5 on Tuesday.

The Twins, the side-by-side long par-4s separated by all-too-inviting water, nos. 9 and 18, got the better of Barron on Tuesday. They were the dreaded “other” in the scoring background, and we shall never speak of them again.

“Coming into the last hole of your senior year, you go big or go home,” Barron said of No. 18. “That brings in some risk.”

Barron was T-41 with an 86-89 and will be hitting the ice for junior hockey this winter.

Got flippers?

First off, let’s clarify something for Weller. The orange golf shirt is for VMS.

“He probably thinks it’s a Giants shirt,” Barron joked.

The only member of the trio making his state debut, Weller was pumped to be at Eagle Ranch even if he didn’t play his best golf, 87-95 and T-48.

“It was a great experience,” Weller said. “I have to overcome some stuff in my golf career and I had a really good time doing it.”

Weller had “The remember when … ” moment of the tournament.

In trouble on No. 16 — and who wasn’t? — Weller’s ball was in the weeds by the pond, and, yep, he did it.

“I went for a swim today,” Weller said. “I had nothing left to lose. I took off my shoes and my socks.”

And, well, anyone who has done this knows it usually doesn’t end well. It didn’t. Weller took the unplayable after that.

And, despite the adventures and the natural disappointment which follows not lighting it up at state as dreamed, the VMS trio understands what a special season it was.

“It was a blast,” Barron said. “Looking back on the four years of varsity golf with Oliver and Sean, it was definitely a memorable experience. Getting a chance to play as a team at state is something a lot of teams don’t get to do.”

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, cfreud@vaildaily.com and @cfreud.