Young golfers take swings at competition

Steamboat's Berry wins Yampa River Junior Golf Tournament

Luke Graham

Paul Berry almost wasn’t in the field for the 2005 Yampa River Junior Golf Tournament.

“I didn’t expect to get in, but I thought it was worth a try,” the high school junior-to-be from Steamboat Springs said.

Berry almost didn’t get into the tournament because he was in Denver trying to qualify for the U.S. Amateur, where he missed the cut by one stroke.

Luckily for Berry, he was able to get into the tournament and won the 15- to 17-year-old men’s tournament by shooting a 68.

“I put a lot of good holes together,” he said. “If it wasn’t for four bogies, it could have been a record day.”

This year’s junior tournament featured 101 young golfers from around the area competing in five age groups.

Ann Marie Hamilton, one of the pros in charge of the junior program, said the tournament is designed to get children of all ages playing golf.

“This way, they get out there and know how it is to play in a tournament,” she said. “It’s fun to see the kids out here playing.”

Hamilton said the ultimate goal for the tournament was to have fun.

Five-year-old Koletan Hafey agreed.

“I hit them far and pretty good,” he said. “I hit one of them high and on the green.”

The tournament, which is one of many junior tournaments throughout the summer, has been around for more than 30 years.

“It’s fun,” said Kris Huitt, a high school senior-to-be from Rangely. “It’s not as strict as other tournaments. People here are just out to have fun.”

Andy Sperl, a junior-to-be at Moffat County High School, finished third in the 15- to 17-year-old group by shooting a 75. He said the tournament offered him a view of what competition will be like for the high school season.

“When I saw that Paul shot 68 today, it opened my eyes,” he said. “If he’s shooting four under, it makes me feel like I need to elevate my game.”

Sperl and Berry play a lot together during the golf season, and Sperl said a mini-rivalry has started.

“It there is one person I try to beat, it’s Paul,” he said. “If you beat him, you know you’re doing well.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Craig and Moffat County make the Craig Press’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.