Moffat County golfers play long game, get glimpse at Rifle course to prep for regionals |

Moffat County golfers play long game, get glimpse at Rifle course to prep for regionals

From left, Moffat County High School golf coach Joe Padon and players Alyssa Chavez, Jaci McDiffett, Madie Weber, Makayla Martinez and Guro Lian convene on the sixth green during a Wednesday practice at Yampa Valley Golf Course. MCHS girls placed eighth Tuesday in Rifle, where the regional tournament takes place in May. Not pictured: Caitlen Krause, Leah Jackson, Hali Reyes, Ellina Jones.
Andy Bockelman

This week, the Moffat County High School girls golf team got a glimpse of the venue where they’ll play one of their biggest tournaments. And, if Mother Nature can handle the task of keeping the weather more manageable, they’ll take care of the rest of their game.

Snowy, windy conditions were prominent as MCHS and other teams hit the links Tuesday at Rifle Creek Golf Course for the Rifle Invitational.

Lady Bulldogs placed eighth of 10 teams, shooting 359, led by Jaci McDiffett with a 112 total to place 26th. Hali Reyes’ 123 tied her for 34th, with Leah Jackson was right behind in 36th with 124.

Caitlen Krause shot 128 for 40th, and Makayla Martinez 165 for 49th.

The climate did no favors for anyone, said coach Joe Padon, adding that golfers nonetheless powered through the precipitation.

“Not a pleasant day for golf, but I definitely wanted them to play that course,” he said.

Rifle Creek will be the site of the 3A Region 4 Tournament May 7 and 8, and Padon and players were particularly attuned Tuesday to the course’s intricacies.

“It’s basically two different golf courses. The front nine is just like ours, but the back has a lot of elevation changes,” he said.

Padon said Rifle was also a good test of temperament, with McDiffett in particular showing a level head even when the going got tough.

“She’s got ice in her veins,” he said. “She doesn’t let emotions get the best of her when she’s out on the course, and her putting has just been awesome this year.”

After setting a new personal best with a 102 earlier in the season, adding 10 strokes in Rifle was a little frustrating, McDiffett said, though she refuses to get bogged down by it.

“I’ve learned after so many sports and activities, after one bad shot, you can’t let it get to you,” she said.

McDiffett said she’s close to bringing her score into the 90s, hopefully even lower. Working on her game on the weekends has been a big part of it.

“I go in the morning, so it’s not too windy, and it’s just easier to golf,” she said.

McDiffett, Jackson, Reyes, Krause and Martinez are all returners, while Alyssa Chavez, Madie Weber, Ellina Jones and exchange student Guro Lian are in their first year of Bulldog golf.

“I’ve really just been working on fundamentals making sure they have fun with it so they’ll stick with it as a lifelong sport,” said Padon, himself in his first year running the team. “It’s been fun, but it’s flown by.”

A Friday tournament at Grand Junction course Chipeta will be strictly JV, with varsity teeing off Monday at Fruita’s Adobe Creek.

“Adobe Creek’s pretty easy, it’s a lot like ours, but there’s some tricks to it,” McDiffett said.

Moffat County will host its own tourney May 1 at Yampa Valley Golf Course to wrap the regular season.

Getting outdoors for practice time is a recurring issue during Yampa Valley springtime, though Padon credited YVGC with allowing MCHS players access to the grounds.

“Our course is really good about providing range balls, greens and everything like that for our program, and we appreciate that,” he said. “If we didn’t have everything they donated, we probably wouldn’t even have a team.”