John F. Russell: All on the line |

John F. Russell: All on the line

— I stopped playing golf a few years ago, and I can honestly say that I don’t miss the game – most of the time.

I was one of those players that would par one hole and then follow it up with a touchdown and a two-point conversion. But despite my lack of consistency on the fairways and greens, I always enjoyed a day on the course. And there still are times when I want to run out to the shed, throw open the door and grab my clubs.

This is one of those weeks.

On Monday, the best high school golfers in the state will arrive at Haymaker Golf Course for the first day of the state high school golf championships. For the past several years, I’ve been lucky enough to cover the championships thanks to the strength of the Steamboat Springs High School program.

Each year, I’ve witnessed the best young golfers in our state laying it all on the line in hopes of driving home with a state title. The tournament is filled with exciting twists and amazing shots. In the past, it’s inspired me to think about pulling my clubs out of storage and return to the links. Luckily, by the time I’ve driven back to Steamboat’s chilly fall temperatures, I’ve come back to my senses. I end up delaying my comeback, and by the time the spring flowers are blooming, I’ve forgotten about all those inspiring shots and amazing putts. I remember why I stopped playing golf in the first place, and instead of pulling out the golf clubs, I grab the lawn mower.

But that shouldn’t take away from the magic that surrounds the state high school golf tournament, and I’m hoping that more than a few locals will take a few minutes away from work Monday and Tuesday to come out and watch these young golfers in action.

The top teams include Kent Denver, Greeley Central and Pueblo West. But all of the players in this tournament know their way around a golf course, and I expect to see some great golf.

Of course, most of us will be rooting for the four golfers from Steamboat Springs. Coaches Steve Dodson and Scott Berry have done a terrific job with this year’s team, and the squad’s results continued to prove that it is a strong program. The Sailors may not win the state title, but don’t count them out.

With players like Paul Berry, Tucker Campbell, Michael Weston and Billy Taylor, the talented Sailors are more than capable of making a run – especially on their home course. But the thing that strikes me about Steamboat golf is how well the program represents our community year after year.

Sure, the coaches have been blessed with several top players, but what Steamboat does best is set the standards for sportsmanship and class.

Come to think of it, maybe it isn’t the terrific golf that inspires me every year during the high school golf championships. Maybe it’s the example that this group of athletes sets every year.

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