Golf team finds success at future regional course

David Pressgrove

The Moffat County High School boys golf team has arrived.

Or at least when its members arrived home from Montrose Thursday, they believed they were a lot closer than the previous week.

Led by juniors Jared Lowther and Brady Virden, who shot 75 and 77, respectively, and an 81 from senior Kelby Virden, the Bulldogs shot a team score of 233 at the Montrose Golf Course. That team score was 14 better than any score the Bulldogs had turned in this season.

“We knew this team was one that could only get better,” said coach Ken Harjes. “These last two days showed this team has a shot at getting somebody to state.”

Last week, in three tournaments, the Bulldogs finished near the back of the pack in team scoring. The Bulldogs finished 10th out of 24 teams Wednesday in Delta and ninth out of 23 Thursday. The bad news is that seven of those teams in front of them Thursday will be at the regional tournament.

“No matter how well or poorly we shoot, it is all relative to the rest of the league at the end of the day,” Harjes said. “Right now the league is shooting really well.”

With two scored in the 70s and a low 80, the gap is getting smaller for the previously inexperienced Bulldogs. Lowther’s 75 came after a day that he played with Harjes’ clubs since his were locked up at the Yampa Valley Golf Course the day before. It was his second score in the 70s this season and Harjes predicted it would have been his third if the junior had hit out of his own bag the day before. His 75 was good enough for 11th in the tournament.

Brady Virden started the day out with a double bogey but came back to register his second consecutive sub-80 and finished in the top 15.

“These guys are learning that even if they have a couple of bad holes, the day isn’t over,” Harjes said. “The more they play, the more they learn.”

Kelby Virden exemplified coming back from a tough beginning as he started the day with a triple bogey and three doubles, yet still shot an 81 with a string of pars at the end of his round.

Senior John Beckerman shot his best score of the season with an 84 and junior Erik Griffin signed his card with an 88 on it. Montrose was a par 70, so the Bulldogs were one stroke away from having all scores under 90 at a par 72 equivalent course.

“Montrose is similar to our home course,” Harjes said. “It’s not real difficult because it is more forgiving than most places.”

The van ride back to Craig was upbeat for the young team and Harjes said they agreed that the four or five days of practice they have until their next tournament will be spent mostly working on putting and chipping, except for Beckerman, whose chipping has been saving him.

“John said he just wants to hit some fairways,” Harjes said. “But if he’s chipping well, that is a good sign.”

The next tournament for MCHS is Thursday in Aspen. As of today, Harjes hadn’t decided who would be on that trip for the Bulldogs. With the week after involving tournaments in Steamboat Springs and Craig, the coach was waiting to decide if his top guys would go to Aspen or stay home to get more practice in.

David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or

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