Young Craig, Steamboat Springs golfers aiming for national glory
The golfing boys of Northwest Colorado aren’t ready to slow their roll yet.
A team of young golfers playing in a nationwide PGA Junior tournament opened the eyes of even parents and coaches when they beat teams from Grand Junction, Colorado Springs and Denver to advance to a sub-regional final.
Last weekend, they straight up shocked those fans by winning that event, too, beating a team from El Paso, Texas, and earning a trip later this month to Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the super regional championship.
“Our little guys continue to tear it up,” said coach Andrew Donner.
Donner and Luke Brosterhous helped put the PGA Junior program together in the spring in last-minute fashion hoping it could inject some enthusiasm into young golfers in the region. They were utterly unsure of what to expect.
Now at the end of the summer and working out the details of a trip to Oklahoma, they certainly didn’t expect this.
“We are shocked,” Donner said. “What it really tells you is we have a lot of really young, talented golfers here. This tells you a lot about their mental makeup, too.”
They took care of business against the El Paso team, playing in two-person teams in nine-hole competitions in Taos, New Mexico.
There are 12 possible points up for grabs in each match, and Steamboat won 7.5 to 4.5 in formats like best ball and scramble.
The team will be one of four at the Tulsa event, joining squads from Texas and Oklahoma. All four will play in a round-robin tournament with the overall winner advancing to the national championship.
“Biggest thing out of all of this, these kids are so excited,” Donner said. “They’re really excited to play golf. They’re going to be thinking about golf all winter, and they’re going to be eager to get back to it next summer. That was our goal when we put this stuff together.”
The team is comprised of golfers from 9 to 13 years of age. There are 10 from Steamboat Springs, including Tommy Henninger, Max Rotermund, Ollie Rotermund, Jack Thompson, Colton Sankey, Caleb Anderson, Travis Seitz, Mike Dinapoli and Zach Walsh, and two playing from Craig, Ryan Peck and Dave Andujo.
The two Craig players said joining the team of mostly Steamboat kids has worked well.
“I’ve learned a lot of life lessons, like being a good teammate and golf rules,” Andujo said. “ We get together pretty good as a team, and I’m looking forward to getting to know the course (in Tulsa).”
The two have both been playing the sport for more than half their lives and have spent a lot of practice time this summer at Yampa Valley Golf Course with pro Bob Mueller.
Both have enjoyed steadily improving in recent months. Peck noted that while proficient with his woods and putter, the irons still cause him trouble,
“I think the hardest thing is keeping my head down,” he laughed.
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