Delayed spring sports season benefits girls’ golf more than anyone |

Delayed spring sports season benefits girls’ golf more than anyone

Steamboat Springs senior Jojo Vertrees, second from right, listens as an instructor leads the team through a yoga flow. The Sailors girls golf team practiced yoga rather than putts and drives on a sunny Friday afternoon. (Photo by Shelby Reardon)

Usually, the first few weeks of girls’ golf practice is in a gym, or at head coach Shannon Hanley’s golf studio on the west side of town. This year, the girls are enjoying warm weather and feeling the grass between their toes on week one.

“It’s exciting we can actually play on grass this year,” said senior Sophia Gowdy. “Normally we can’t, so that’s new for us. We’ve already played nine holes. Some people have played 18 holes.”

The pandemic altered Colorado High School sports, splitting the seasons into four, rather than three, and pushing the start of spring sports into late April. Girls golf is reaping the benefits of that shift more than anyone. Not only have they been able to practice outside from the get-go, but they can get on courses earlier in the season and get more swings in.

“Realistically speaking, this should be the best year for them to learn about the game because they can play outside,” Hanley said.

Even without local courses opening, the team has been busy incorporating cross training into their practices. On Friday after school, the team did yoga on the green in front of the high school. Hanley strives to better her athletes in as many ways as possible throughout the season, using yoga, nutrition classes and fun personality tests to keep things interesting and educate the Sailors.

For a few golfers, the season started April 29 in Palisade, but most will compete on Monday at Eagle Ranch. For many, it’ll be the first competition in two years.

“It’s kind of nerve-wracking,” said senior Jojo Vertrees. “I haven’t played in a tournament since sophomore year.”

“Kind of zero expectations,” added senior Ryley Seibel. “Just ready to get out there and get it rolling.”

Between Eagle Ranch and May 28, the team has four more tournaments scheduled, but are hoping to find more in which to compete.

Even with the adjusted season schedule, there is still the issue of getting in enough rounds to qualify for state. With spring break coinciding with a few local tournaments, the Sailors will be cutting it close with how many rounds they’ve played leading up to the postseason.

Another way the pandemic boosted the team was the nationwide boom in golf. With golfing being one of the consistently available recreational options throughout the pandemic, it saw a massive rise in interest at every level.

With that, a few freshmen found the sport and joined the team. To ensure everyone gets the attention and competition level they are comfortable with and deserve, Hanley intends to split the team into two.

“My goal this year is to break the team into two different places,” she said. “One a developmental team where we learn more basic skills and hands-on training, and then allowing those kids who have some golf experience the opportunity to hit a lot of balls before we go play some tournaments.”

Steamboat Girls Golf Schedule

April 29 - at Palisade

May 3 - at Vail Mountain

May 11 - at Rifle

May 17 - at Glenwood Springs

May 18 - at Moffat County

May 28 - at Palisade

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