Golf team leaves coach ‘pleasantly surprised’ |

Golf team leaves coach ‘pleasantly surprised’

David Pressgrove

The season opener for the Moffat County High School boys golf team produced results that “pleasantly surprised” coach Ken Harjes.

Juniors Brady Virden and Jared Lowther led the team with scores of 78 on the Bookcliff Golf Course in Grand Junction. With the top two Bulldogs finishing in a tie for 11th overall and senior Kelby Virden’s score of 91, the team shot a 247 and finished eighth out of 16 teams.

“I didn’t think we had much of a chance to break 250,” Harjes said. “But we did and we know Kelby won’t be in the 90s much anymore so it was a good start.”

Lowther and Virden went into the first tournament with the most varsity experience and Harjes theorized that it helped them to have fewer nerves than their teammates in the first outing.

“Brady had been golfing well and I knew Jared would come around,” he said. “Previous experience allowed them to go out and not think too much.”

In the team’s qualifying rounds last Tuesday and Wednesday no golfer broke 80. With two golfers dropping below the barrier, the team outlook improved. Harjes credited consistency as a main factor in the top-15 finishes from his top two golfers.

“Jared shot a pretty even 41-37,” he said. “I’m not sure exactly what Brady shot but it was close to even 39s.”

Senior John Beckerman finished the day with a 92 as Harjes said he struggled with alignment off the tee.

“When I caught up with John he was striking the ball well but not hitting it straight,” the coach said. “I talked with him on a tee and he worked on it the rest of the day.”

Freshman Kaleb McKey rounded out the group with a 102.

“It hasn’t happened a lot,” Harjes said about a freshman starting on varsity in the first meet. “With a one-day trip I thought it would be a good chance for him to get the experience.”

Junior Erik Griffin will join the team for a three-tournament road trip Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

“Really, Erik earned the fifth spot during the qualifier,” Harjes said. “But Kaleb was close and I wanted to give him an opportunity.”

The team’s eighth-place finish was behind five Class 4A schools, but Harjes said a matter of a couple of strokes here and there would have put them in the top five.

“Kelby said he had seven double bogeys and if he would have turned those into bogeys, we would have finished fourth,” he said.

The coach and team are looking forward to the three-day trip down south.

“This is a team that is smart enough to learn from success and mistakes,” Harjes said. “This is a fun group and they’ll keep getting better.”

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