Moffat County golfers find footing in tournament play as team returns to regular practices

Moffat County High School golfers Valerie Teeter, Jade Everett, Taylor Powell, Reagan Hafey and Aftyn Kawcak gather on the Yampa Valley Golf Course clubhouse steps.
Courtesy photo

Springtime in the Rockies is rarely friendly to the experienced players who want to get out on the golf course as early as possible.

For those still learning the game, working out the fundamentals in bad weather is hardly conducive, yet the Moffat County girls golf team is finally starting to move forward this season.

MCHS girls placed eighth at both Monday’s and Tuesday’s tournaments this week. Those rounds marked the first time the Lady Bulldogs have been able to field a full varsity team in a spring that’s been a slow start to say the least.

After working on their skills either inside or on the MoCo soccer field in late March, the group was able to hit the links at Yampa Valley Golf Course only to have their practices halted again last week with a flurry of precipitation.

“They’re having some inconsistent practice, but we’re in the same boat everybody else is,” coach Tim Adams said. “Talking to the other coaches, with very few exceptions, very few of these teams have really been on the course much.”

Adams had four golfers in the mix Monday during Glenwood Springs’ Lady Demon Invitation at River Valley Ranch, with junior Reagan Hafey leading the group with a 110, tying for 15th in a field of 40. Sophomore Mia Cheuvront shot 126, junior Aftyn Kawcak 143 and Valerie Teeter 153.

The following day was the Lady Bear Classic at Rifle Creek, which Cheuvront was unable to play as she was committed to a soccer game the same day.

Hafey placed eighth with an improved 103. The better placement was a confidence booster for her knowing everyone was also having some issues in a day when the difference between third place and fourth place was a gap of 11 strokes.

“There was nobody who shot in the 90s. It was an 85, 86, an 89 and then it went up to 100,” Hafey said.

Hafey was also the only member of the team to shoot stroke play during dual events in early April in Montrose, shooting 113 at Cobble Creek followed by a season-best 101 at Black Canyon.

“It’s still pretty early in the season for all of us, everybody’s still getting back on their course,” she said.

At Rifle, Teeter brought her score down to 148, but Kawcak had a tougher second day, shooting 149. Kawcak said despite a good long game, another part of the process wreaked havoc on her total.

“The second day I hit in the sand bunkers a lot, so that’s why I had a lot more swings. I really struggled hitting out of the sand,” she said. “River Valley is a very spread-out course, so it’s very tiring once you get to the last few holes. You’re ready to be done by then. Same with Rifle, the back nine of their course is mainly uphill and you get really tired. It’s something we’re not used to since our course is mostly flat.”

Adams agreed the back nine in Rifle was doing no one any favors, and a pickup in the wind also proved tricky.

“Overall, I’m pretty pleased. They’re making progress. Valerie has improved even when her scores don’t reflect it, and Aftyn struck the ball better in Rifle than she did the day before,” he said. “Reagan’s goals are different. She really wants to go back to state, so she’s really aiming to keep her scores back in the 90s.”

Hafey was one of two MCHS golfers who competed at last year’s state championships. Sophomore Taylor Powell also reached that level but was unable to compete in this week’s events.

Moffat County High School golfers Aftyn Kawcak, Valerie Teeter and Reagan Hafey enjoy the scenic overlook at the Lady Bear Classic at Rifle Creek.
Andy Bockelman/For Craig Press

“Taylor is completely capable; she just needs to be able to play,” Adams said.

For Teeter and Jade Everett, this is the first time they’ve gone out for the sport.

“My friends were telling me about all the fun they have golfing, and it’s going to be something good to do during the summer,” Teeter said. “I think I underestimated how hard some of it would be, like walking all the holes. I enjoy it so far, knowing it’s something I can do my whole life.”

Teeter said she appreciated Adams’ instruction, even though the practice schedule has been difficult.

For Hafey, being on a true golf course makes everything click.

“It’s completely different. On the soccer field, we had to hit Nerf balls and you don’t get a true feeling of where your ball is going, so you can’t really tell what’s going wrong with your swing,” she said. “It’s very helpful to be able to putt on a green, because we were putting on carpet before.”

Kawcak agreed that she was unable to tell if and how she was improving while the group was working at the soccer field.

“That didn’t really do us justice or give us an accurate reading of how we were doing,” she said.

MCHS girls will next compete this Monday at Eagle Valley Ranch, hosted by Vail Mountain, while their home tournament takes place May 2 at YVGC.

Following those contests are varsity events in Aspen, Gunnison and Grand Junction’s Tiara Rado, as well as JV championships at Chipeta Golf Course, leading up to regional qualifiers in late May.

“Lotta golf in the next few weeks,” Adams said.

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