Sailors make history as first-ever Steamboat golfers to compete at state

Steamboat Springs High School senior golfer Sophia Gowdy puts at the 4A state golf championship at Commonground Golf Course in Aurora. (Courtesy Shannon Hanley)

AURORA — A pair of Steamboat Springs High School golfers made history Tuesday by becoming the first Sailor girls to compete in the 4A state golf championship since the program’s inception six years ago.

Senior Sophia Gowdy and junior Alexandra Culver represented the Yampa Valley at Commonground Golf Course in Aurora on Monday and Tuesday. After a practice round Sunday, they hit the course first thing Monday.

Culver hit an 89 Day 1, putting her in the top third of competitors, and Gowdy earned a 104 Day 1. Tuesday brought a little more difficulty. Culver swung for a 99, bringing her tournament total to 188 strokes. She took 39th out of 84 competitors. Gowdy earned a 214 after swinging for 110 Tuesday. She finished 62nd.

“It was really fun,” Gowdy said. “I didn’t play my best; I just had some really bad shots. There was one hole I had an 11 on a par four. There were a bunch of sand shots. Other than that, I don’t think I did too horrible.”

The Sailors had a rough go of it Tuesday, their third straight day of golf in the sun in Aurora. As their energy level diminished, the Steamboat golfers pushed through the challenges.

“The wind kicked up a little bit,” head coach Shannon Hanley said. “The greens out here are really tricky. The golf course is in great shape, but it’s just a pretty intense track for these guys.”

Gowdy said she definitely got frustrated but was able to soon let it go and just enjoy the fact she made it to state for her senior season.

Not only are the greens speedy, but the roughs are, well, rough. Typically, girls golf is played in the spring, when grass is barely turning green, let alone thriving and demanding a cut once per week. The rough at Commonground was knee high grass that buried balls and sucked them into the same world that socks and hair ties go.

Sometimes, they’d take a swing at a ball in the deep grass, other times they’d elect to take a stroke on an unplayable ball. Hanley said sometimes, they probably didn’t make the right decision, which just comes with experience and confidence in their swing.

Steamboat Springs High School junior Alexandra Culver tees off at the 4A state golf championship at Commonground Golf Course in Aurora. (Courtesy Shannon Hanley)

Culver will be a senior on the team next year, as she plans to return. She’ll not only be a leader but will be looking to gain more experience and confidence before trying to play golf at the collegiate level.

The historic state appearance concluded what might have been the Sailors girls best season yet. Rather than playing most of the season indoors or elsewhere, they were able to practice and play on grass since their season started later.

“It was an awesome season, even with COVID pushing it back. That made it incredible,” Gowdy said. “We got to play on grass the whole time. I would have never made it to state if we were practicing in the studio the whole time.”

“Our kids don’t get a chance to play on grass very often,” Hanley added. “We had a great season. I’m proud of them all.”

From left, Steamboat Springs High School senior Sophia Gowdy and junior Alexandra Culver were the first Sailor girls to attend the 4A state golf championship, which took place Monday and Tuesday at Commonground Golf Course in Aurora. (Courtesy Shannon Hanley)

4A Girls State Golf Championship

Team scores: 1. Discovery Canyon 485. 2. Windsor 519. 3. Mullen 526. 4. Cheyenne Mountain 528. 5. Holy Family 534.

Top five: 1. Jessica Mason, Holy Family, 140. 2. Sofia Choi, Mullen, 150. 3. Emily Cheng, Discovery Canyon, 152. 4. Morgan Palermo, Ponderosa, 154. 4. Timbre Shehee, Mead, 154.

Steamboat finishers: 39. Alexandra Culver 188. 62. Sophia Gowdy 214.

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