Moffat County golfers seek return to state amid snowy start to season |

Moffat County golfers seek return to state amid snowy start to season

Moffat County golfer Aftyn Kawcak prepares to sink a putt at Yampa Valley Golf Course during the 2022 Bulldog Invite.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

The grounds of Yampa Valley Golf Course may be coated in snow, but Moffat County golfers are doing everything they can to get in gear for their home fairways and greens.

The Bulldog girls golf program hits its first set of tournaments next week in Montrose, with back-to-back events at Black Canyon and Cobble Creek.

Their first competitions are coming a little later in the calendar than coach Tim Adams would have preferred, but it’s also not a shock given how many delays multiple schools have experienced with winter holdover, particularly on the Western Slope.

“Most everybody’s in the same boat, except for the Grand Junction schools, most of which aren’t in our league anyway,” he said.

Adams has most of his team from last year back on the roster, with five returning players and one novice.

So far, practices have been difficult to schedule with other activities, much less find a good space to do it. Adams had golfers work on their putting mechanics in the MoCo library this week and plans to take players down to Rifle Creek for more intensive work.

It’s unlikely the home course will be available before mid-April — the team’s home tournament is scheduled for early May — so they’ve all had to get creative.

“We’re finding ways to practice and get back into the groove of what it feels like to swing a golf club again,” Adams said. “It all depends on ‘what have they done in the offseason?’ Have they picked up a club since last June? Working at the golf course, I kind of have an idea of who has, but obviously it’s been a little bit more difficult, especially this winter.”

Jade Everett, Aftyn Kawcak, and Reagan Hafey are the group’s seniors.

Moffat County golfer Reagan Hafey goes into her backswing at Yampa Valley Golf Course during the 2022 Bulldog Invite.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

While she’s had a great deal of commitments in her final year of high school that prevented her from playing volleyball in the fall, Kawcak said golf has fit her needs a lot better.

“I’m pretty involved with FFA, 4-H, and livestock, and volleyball kind of conflicted with that. With golf mainly being on weekdays, it’s a lot more flexible,” she said. “Definitely working on my long game and getting my drives where I want them to go. I’m working on being more patient and not rushing myself as much.”

She’s also aiming to get her score regularly into the low 100s with the hopes of being a state qualifier.

If she gets that far, there’s a good chance she won’t be alone; both Hafey and junior Taylor Powell made it to the state tourney the past two seasons.

Hafey took third place at the regional event last spring and is feeling confident that perhaps she could win that one outright this year.

“I’m hoping with the late start and practices, it won’t make it too tough. I’m sure it’s not going to be that much worse than previous seasons,” she said. “I think it’s gonna be a tricky season. I went and golfed in Junction during spring break. They’re playable courses, but even down there it’s like they’re still having a hard time too.”

With a new set of clubs — Ping woods and irons and an Odyssey putter — Hafey said she’s identifying where she can perfect her game.

“Hitting my driver and 3 wood more and getting a little more accurate with those will help me a lot,” she said. “If this season goes as planned, I’m hoping I’ll be able to golf in college. An exceptional season would get me to that level.”

Adams expects once the team gets past the hazards of coming out of winter, it’s likely he’ll be seeing Hafey and Powell thrive at regionals yet again, if not bringing even more along for the ride.

“It’d be great if those two could go three years in a row,” he said. “State’s at Aspen this year, and it’s a course that we’re familiar with, so that will be good for them. It’s all about practice and their individual effort. Golf is the ultimate individual sport.”

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