5 Seasons and Counting

5 Seasons and Counting

Posted on October 27, 2020

By Gary Baines – 10/26/2020

Turning 5 years old is a momentous occasion. That’s no less true for the Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado than for your average kindergartner.

Five years ago this month, the CGA and the Colorado PGA announced they were joining forces in a major effort to bolster junior golf in the state. A few months later, the name for the resulting organization was disclosed — the Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado — and the first JGAC season was held in 2016.

This month, the JGAC’s fifth season concluded, and milestones continue to be reached on a regular basis.

For instance, the alliance now includes 1,755 members. That’s more than double what the JGAC had in 2016 — 838 kids. There are three different levels of membership, and there was such high demand for tournament play that the Series and Tour memberships were sold out in mid-June. 

Overall, there are 955 Introductory members, 518 Series members and 282 Tour members. All JGAC memberships come with access to Youth on Course, an ever-growing non-profit program which makes golf more accessible for juniors by capping their cost for a round at $5 at participating facilities.

“In 2020, the demand for junior golf skyrocketed in a way that we love, but couldn’t anticipate,” Ashley Barnhart, the CGA’s managing director of golf operations, said in an email. “Despite the global pandemic, we saw incredible growth in JGAC membership, the desire to play competitive tournaments, and the utilization of Youth on Course. The season wasn’t without its Covid-related challenges, but this growing desire to play provides some exciting insight to the future success of the game.”

As was the case with many things in life this year, Covid-19 had considerable effect on the JGAC. Among other things, the tournament season didn’t start until early June — two months after originally planned.

Let’s look back on some of the highlights — and just plain oddities — of a unique JGAC season: 

— While all four of the JGAC major championships were played in 2020, many of the most prestigious international, national and regional events in which top-level junior golfers aspire to compete were canceled due to novel coronavirus-related safety concerns.

Most notably for Colorado, that included the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, which had been scheduled for July at Eisenhower Golf Club at the Air Force Academy. The 2020 U.S. Girls’ Junior was supposed to be the first time a U.S. military course would host a USGA championship. And in another departure from the past, the Junior Golf Alliance was to have served as the “host group” for the championship, partnering with the USGA in many respects.

Also canceled for 2020 were the two AJGA events Colorado was to have hosted, the U.S. Junior Amateur, the IMG Academy Junior World Championships, the boys and girls Junior Americas Cup events, the national boys and girls Junior PGA Championships and  all the Drive Chip & Putt events.

— Speaking of lost opportunities, Hailey Schalk of Erie was hoping to become the first four-time Colorado state high school individual golf champion — girls or boys. But she’ll have to settle for winning the event three times — along with Lynn Ann Moretto (1995, ’96 and ’97) and Ashley Tait (2002, ’04 and ’05) — after the 2020 girls championship was canceled due to Covid-19.

Braecklein won the CGA Women’s Stroke Play and finished second in three JGAC majors in 2020.
 

— JGAC member Aubri Braecklein of Northglenn made a little history in June by winning the CGA Women’s Stroke Play at age 17 as she became the youngest winner of that event in more than a dozen years, before which detailed records weren’t kept.

Braecklein would go on to be named the JGAC Girls Player of the Year, while Hunter Swanson of Denver was the Boys Player of the Year. To see more details on their 2020 accomplishments, see the list of JGAC award winners and honorees below.

Hunter Swanson claimed JGAC Boys Player of the Year honors this year.
 

— This year was an unusual one as far as the number of JGAC major winners that were crowned. More often than not, at least one player wins more than one major in a year. But between the boys and the girls, there were eight different major champions in 2020:

Walker Franklin of Westminster and Ashley Kozlowski of Littleton (Colorado Junior PGA); Bo Wardynski of Parker and Charlotte Hillary of Cherry Hills Village (Colorado Junior Amateur); Matthew Wilkinson of Centennial and Morgan Miller of Cedar Park, Texas (Colorado Junior Match Play); and Wes Erling of Colorado Springs and Emma Bryant of Aurora in a sweep of Hale Irwin Player Program members (JGAC Tour Championship).

It should be noted that both Hillary and Bryant had won JGAC majors in previous years.

Walker Franklin was one of eight different winners of JGAC majors in 2020.
 

— In the spring, Max Lange of Golden accomplished one of the most odds-defying feats of 2020 in Colorado golf as the 16-year-old made two holes-in-one in three holes at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club’s par-3 course. Oh, and by the way, Lange recorded the two aces insides a half-an-hour after never having made a hole-in-one before.

— The CoBank Colorado Women’s Open proved a memorable experience for three JGAC members as they were paired with three current LPGA Tour players for the first two rounds of the tournament. Hillary competed alongside Jennifer Kupcho, who would go on to win the CWO. Bryant teed it up with two-time LPGA winner Carlota Ciganda. And Schalk was in a threesome with Jenny Coleman, a former University of Colorado standout.

— After having the U.S. Girls’ Junior canceled off the course’s 2020 schedule, Eisenhower Golf Club at the Air Force Academy ended up hosting the last two JGAC majors of the year. The Blue Course did the honors for the Colorado Junior Match Play and the Silver for the JGAC Tour Championship, which was limited to one round after high winds canceled the final day’s action.

— Ashleigh Wilson went where no Colorado junior golfer had gone before when she won the 11-13 Girls Series Championship in August. After claiming the Girls 10 & Under Series Championship three times, Wilson became the first player — regardless of age — to capture four JGAC Series Championship titles. She had shared that distinction with three-time champs Kupcho, Somin Lee, Coby Welch and Andre Dumonteil.

— Speaking of Schalk, the current CU golfer had a stellar two-month run in tournament play. In early August, she won the final AJGA tournament in which she’ll compete, the AJGA Junior at Southpointe. Shortly thereafter, she teamed with Erin Houtsma to win the CGA Women’s Brassie Championship. In September, Schalk paired with CU teammate Alisha Lau to qualify for the 2021 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship. And early this month, she won the Colorado National Women’s Amateur.

— Swanson, a third-year member of the Hale Irwin Player Program based at CommonGround Golf Course, had a strong showing in early August at the High School Golf National Invitational at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina. The junior at Northfield High School tied for 18th place out of a boys field of 235.

— In one of the more exciting finishes for a Colorado boys state high school tournament, Valor Christian senior Lucas Schulte eagled his final hole as a high school player to win the 5A individual title by one stroke and give his school the team title by two.

Ashley Barnhart (right) and Emily Olson during last month’s 100 Hole Hike benefitting Youth on Course.
 

— In an event delayed by a few weeks by an early-September snowstorm, Junior Golf Alliance staffers and supporters took part in an inventive — though very taxing — fundraiser for Youth on Course, which limits the cost for junior golfers to $5 per round at participating facilities. Eight players teed it up for the 100 Hole Hike at CommonGround Golf Course, taking roughly 10 hours and walking more than 20 miles for their marathon of golf. The event raised more than $23,000 for YOC.

Below are the Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado honorees and award winners for 2020:


Players of the Year

Girls — Aubri Braecklein of Northglenn: Won the CGA Women’s Stroke Play title at age 17, becoming the youngest champion in more than a dozen years. … Braecklein is a senior at Jefferson Academy, the same school that produced current LPGA Tour player Jennifer Kupcho. … Though Braecklein didn’t win any of the JGAC majors in 2020, she notched three top-two finishes, placing second in the Colorado Junior Amateur, the Colorado Junior PGA and the JGAC Tour Championship. She was also ninth in the Colorado Junior Match Play. … She won two JGAC tournaments in 2020 and was never outside of the top 10 in an Alliance event. … Braecklein won the JGAC Tour Girls points race by a whopping 682 points.

Boys — Hunter Swanson of Denver: The junior at Northfield High School is in his third year as part of the Hale Irwin Player Program at CommonGround Golf Course. … He finished runner-up in the Colorado Junior Amateur, fifth in the JGAC Tour Championship, sixth in the Colorado Junior PGA and ninth at the Colorado Junior Match Play. … He won two JGAC tournaments in 2020. … Finished 18th out of a boys field of 235 at the High School Golf National Invitational at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina. … In the 4A boys state high school meet, he tied for sixth place.


Most Improved Players of the Year

Boys — Pratham Parmar of Greenwood Village: In 2020, he recorded almost an eight-stroke improvement in his scoring average compared to 2019. This year, he averaged 79.7 and finished second on the boys 14-18 Series. Last year, his JGAC norm was 87.4.

Girls — Molly Stratton of Centennial: Competing in the 14-18 Series this year, she posted a scoring average of 84.8 in finishing sixth on the girls points list. In 2019, playing in the 11-13 Series, she averaged 92.7 and placed 12th on the girls points list.


Award of Excellence (based on community service, character, overcoming hardship and showing spirit of the game of golf)

Braden Wedel of Bethune: Wedel lives in an area where golf opportunities are limited. The person who nominated him noted, “The courses in Burlington and Stratton are only 9-hole buffalo grass-fairway courses, with minimal challenges like sand, water and fast greens that are present on JGAC courses. But Braden was still able to post three good scores including +9, +8, and +4 at JGAC events.” Braden plays 6-man football, holds officer positions in school leadership organizations and owns a 4.0 grade-point average. He played a key role in getting Stratton High School to start a sanctioned golf team.


Grace Burke Award (goes to female high school golfers who exhibit character, leadership, personal integrity, and enthusiasm for the game of golf) 

Aubri Braecklein of Northglenn: The high school senior was named the JGAC Girls Player of the Year for 2020 (see above). She’s played in the JGAC since 2019 and is a 2020 JGAC Academic All-Star.

Elan Fleetwood of Parker: The high school senior has competed in the JGAC since 2017 and played in 13 events this year, winning two. She’s a 2020 JGAC Academic All-Star.

Grace Ha of Westminster: The high school senior has played in the JGAC since 2016 and competed in 11 events this year, placing as high as second. She’s a 2020 JGAC Academic All-Star.

Rachel Penzenstadler of Littleton: A high school senior, Penzenstadler has playedin the JGAC since 2017 and competed in a dozen tournaments this year, with two third-place finishes. She’s a 2020 JGAC Academic All-Star.


2020 Points Chase Champions

Boys 10 & Under: Hudson Stutzman

Girls 10 & Under: Adrielle Miller

Boys 11-13: Gavin Amella 

Girls 11-13: Alexandra Remaklus 

Boys 14-18: Tiki Jaffe

Girls 14-18: Natalie Tatar

Boys Tour: Hunter Swanson

Girls Tour: Aubri Braecklein


10 & Under All-Stars

Adrielle Miller 

Amalei Lagrimas 

Sophia Lee 

Landry Frost 

Jadie Wilson

Hudson Stutzman 

Grady Ortiz 

Gage Poulsen 

Hudson Rozga 

Connor Young 


11-13 All-Stars

Gavin Amella 

Andre Dumonteil 

Ross Miller 

Tyler Long 

Landon Houska 

Alexandra Remaklus 

Addison Hines 

Lenna Persson 

Maddie Makino 

Zoe Bar-Or 


14-18 All-Stars

Tiki Jaffe

Pratham Parmar 

Brentyn Paiz 

Travis Seitz 

Grant Juergens 

Natalie Tatar 

Kyra Shatzer 

Molly Stratton 

Lily Nelson 

Elan Fleetwood 


Tour All-Stars

Hunter Swanson 

Matthew Wilkinson 

Charlie Flaxbeard 

Wes Erling 

Owen Cornmesser 

Aubri Braecklein 

Kaylee Chen 

Emma Bryant 

Ashley Kozlowski 

Charlotte Hillary 


Academic All-Stars

Emaan Adil, Greenwood Village 

Zane Aiken, Parker 

Evan Ashbeck, Littleton 

Chloe Avant, Denver 

Braden Balch, Greenwood Village 

Brynn Balliet, Parker 

Will Balliet, Parker 

Bennett Bante, Cherry Hills Village 

Madeline Bante, Cherry Hills Village 

Siena Barnes, Centennial 

Zoe Bar-Or, Greenwood Village 

Malachi Barros, Gypsum 

Maxwell Barros, Gypsum 

Connor Bell, Montrose 

William Beshoar, Montrose 

Logan Biggerstaff, Cherry Hills Village 

Kaitlyn Blair, Parker 

Jonathon Boyer, Eagle 

Aubri Braecklein, Northglenn 

Caroline Brandon, Denver 

Kenji Bray, Arvada 

Jack Bretz, Englewood 

Emma Bryant, Aurora 

Dylan Bundy, Lone Tree 

Gavin Buttshaw, Aurora 

Qwenton Caldwell, Littleton 

Paige Carlson, Parker 

Owen Casey, Denver 

Logan Cass, Parker 

Ashley Chang, Lone Tree 

Christina Cheng, Colorado Springs 

Emily Cheng, Colorado Springs 

Alyssa Chin, Greenwood Village 

Caitlyn Chin, Greenwood Village 

Benjamin Chin, Greenwood Village 

Sofia Choi, Littleton 

Alex Choi, Thornton 

Erin Choi, Thornton 

Brendan Church, Arvada 

Jack Conklin, Eagle 

Austin Cortez, Thornton 

Garrett Covney, Highlands Ranch 

Jake Crawford, Avon 

Alexis Cunningham, Denver 

Gabrielle Cunningham, Denver 

Luke Cushman, Castle Rock 

Kaden Devenport, Windsor 

Michael Dinapoli, Steamboat Springs 

Mario Dino, Denver 

Dakota Dolph, Pine 

Mckenzie Dolph, Pine 

Jake Dost, Parker 

Raven DuKane, Broomfield 

Graham Dzengelewski, Highlands Ranch 

Adam Eicher, Arvada 

Wesley Erling, Colorado Springs 

Nick Fallin, Highlands Ranch 

William Farber, Lakewood 

Nolan Farrar, Larkspur 

Nicole Fatovic, Broomfield 

Charlie Flaxbeard, Greenwood Village 

Elan Fleetwood, Parker 

Gabe Flexter, Highlands Ranch 

Jeth Fogg, Colorado Springs 

Bryant Ford, Colorado Springs 

Kaden Ford, Colorado Springs 

Connor Fredericks, Denver 

John Fredericks, Denver 

Morgan Frieling, Castle Rock 

Quinn Gallagher, Centennial 

Oliver Gibbons, Lakewood 

Devin Gilbreath, Aurora 

TJ Giordano, Denver 

Hunter Glasser, Eagle 

Christopher Gunlikson, Longmont 

Grace Ha, Greenwood Village 

Logan Hale, Eagle 

Kalai Hamlin, Monument 

Alex Hanna, Steamboat Springs 

Ben Harding, Longmont 

Maryn Harlow, Fort Collins 

Ben Henderson, Louisville 

Ian Henderson, Louisville 

Eva Herron, Lone Tree 

JJ Heupel, Littleton 

Ava Hickey, Boulder 

Aidan Highsmith, Littleton 

Carter Hinkle, Windsor 

Jeffrey Mason Hollingsworth, Fort Collins 

Mallory Hopper, Centennial 

Landon Houska, Fort Collins 

Teddy Hummel, Denver 

Jack Jacobsen, Englewood 

Kaden Jaramillo, Broomfield 

Alena Kasanicky, Longmont 

Carson Kerr, Grand Junction 

Nathan Kim, Castle Pines 

Sam Knowlton, Boulder 

Caden Koole, Broomfield WY

Gabrielle Krebs, Windsor WY

Wesley Krebs, Denver 

Luke Kusserow, Highlands Ranch 

Amalei Lagrimas, Castle Rock 

Gisella Lagrimas, Castle Rock 

Chase Lampe, Arvada 

Luke Landskov, Arvada 

Richard Lane, Pueblo 

Maxwell Lange, Golden 

Jordan Larese, Highlands Ranch 

Halahn Lee, Lone Tree 

Jake Legg, Montrose 

Madeleine LeGrande, Castle Rock 

Katelyn Lehigh, Loveland 

Zachary Lipfield, Lone Tree 

Sofia Liss, Castle Rock 

Jon Lord Jr., Lakewood 

Anthony Lore, Parker 

Simone Lore, Parker 

Alex Lund, Colorado Springs 

Josee Lurcott, Englewood 

Lincoln Mackay, Evergreen 

Aditya Malhotra, Lafayette 

Christopher Marsh, Gypsum 

Oliva McCandless, Arvada 

Jordan McCaslin, Arvada 

Campbell McFadden, Denver 

Jack McLean, Aurora 

Peyton McLeese, Broomfield 

Alexander McNeil, Aurora 

Taylor McNeil, Aurora 

Matthew McNitt, Highlands Ranch 

Joel Melun, Greenwood Village 

Gage Messingham, Arvada 

Katrina Messner, Colorado Springs 

Grace Messner, Colorado Springs 

Anna Mettler, Colorado Springs 

Caleb Michaels, Louisville 

Ella Miller, Centennial 

William Mitchell, Lafayette 

Davis Moon, Castle Rock 

Colson Morley, Castle Pines 

Jessica Morrissey, Golden 

Luke Murphy, Grand Junction 

Tyler Nakos, Frisco 

Jeffrey Nelson, Commerce City 

Lily Nelson, Commerce City 

Caitlin Neumann, Cherry Hills Village 

Max Noffsinger, Fort Collins 

Ryan Occhionero, Morrison 

Brentyn Paiz, Windsor 

Ryan Parker, Parker 

Benjamin Parris, Englewood 

Kale Parthen, Colorado Springs 

Rachel Penzenstadler, Centennial 

Lenna Persson, Aspen 

Alexander Quiachon, Broomfield 

Ben Reifschneider, Broomfield 

Alexandra Remaklus, Commerce City 

Charlie Riggs, Windsor 

Will Rinehart, Aurora 

Kayla Robinson, Columbine Valley 

Joaquin Rodriguez, Thornton 

Bretton Ronlund, Denver 

Taylor Rorick, Castle Pines 

Sydney Rothstein, Niwot 

Gabriel Rubinfeld, Colorado Springs 

Miles Rucker, Boulder 

Cade Rummell, Littleton 

Grant Samuelson, Fort Collins 

Benjamin Sander, Parker 

Spencer Schlagel, Parker 

Carter Schmela, Aspen 

Jack Schubert, Highlands Ranch 

Kyle Schumacher, Highlands Ranch 

Trevor Seeley, Parker 

Justin Segura, Colorado Springs 

Travis Seitz, Steamboat Springs 

Kya Shatzer, Colorado Springs 

Timbre Shehee, Mead 

Noah Sherry, Boulder 

Andrew Sinar, Centennial 

Christopher Smith, Monument 

George Smith, Denver 

Windrem Smith, Fort Collins 

Jack Stafford, Parker 

Ava Staver, Highlands Ranch 

Molly Stratton, Centennial 

Tanner Strickler, Lone Tree 

Trinity Stuart, Westminster 

Blake Sullivan, Castle Rock 

Carter Surofchek, Colorado Springs 

Hunter Swanson, Denver 

Makaela Swanson, Denver 

Natalie Tatar, Denver 

Sydney Taylor, Fort Collins 

Leanne Telle, Colorado Springs 

Samantha Thomas, Englewood 

Chase Thompson, Evergreen 

Roland Thornton, Aurora 

Davyn Timbang, Castle Pines 

Collen Todd, Golden 

Hope Torres, Broomfield 

Tyler Tyson, Arvada 

Zachary Tyson, Arvada 

Jordan Ulitzky, Aurora 

Keegan Ulvedal, Arvada 

Richard Valdez III, Colorado Springs 

Kenny VanWormer, Aurora 

Noah Vieyra, Aurora 

Noah Wagner, Pueblo West 

Cole Wearner, Centennial 

Reed Wearner, Centennial 

Logan Weissman, Colorado Springs 

Matthew Wilkinson, Centennial 

Blake Williams, Lone Tree 

Mathew Williams, Brighton 

Hayden Woelk, Colorado Springs 

Garrett Wood, Centennial 

Liam Wood, Boulder 

Max Zadvorny, Centennial 

Jeffrey Zhou, Greenwood Village 

Kaitlin Zingler, Lakewood 

Ian Zweifel, Orlando FL


2020 JGAC RECOGNITION

Bo Wardynski: Colorado Junior Amateur Boys Champion

Charlotte Hillary: Colorado Junior Amateur Girls Champion

Ashley Kozlowski: Colorado Junior PGA Girls Champion

Walker Franklin: Colorado Junior PGA Boys Champion

Matthew Wilkinson: Colorado Junior Match Play Boys Champion

Morgan Miller: Colorado Junior Match Play Girls Champion

Wesley Erling: JGAC Tour Boys Champion

Emma Bryant: JGAC Tour Girls Champion

Sophia Lee: JGAC 10 & Under Series Girls Champion

Hudson Stutzman: JGAC 10 & Under Series Boys Champion

Tyler Long: JGAC 11-13 Series Boys Champion

Ashleigh Wilson: JGAC 11-13 Series Girls Champion

Brentyn Paiz: JGAC 14-18 Series Boys Champion

Lily Nelson: JGAC 14-18 Series Girls Champion


PGA JUNIOR LEAGUE

Jason Witczak: Junior League Coach

Andy Blake: Junior League Member – Saturday Winner

Izzy Paraiso: Junior League Member – Saturday Winner

Jack Dailey: Junior League Member – Saturday Winner

Kaitlyn Grommeck: Junior League Member – Saturday Winner

Ben Sander: Junior League Member – Saturday Winner

Crew Fitzgerald: Junior League Member – Saturday Winner

Jake Dost: Junior League Member – Saturday Winner

Kyndra Johnson: Junior League Member – Saturday Winner

Ben Sander: Junior League Member – Sunday Winner

Kyndra Johnson: Junior League Member – Sunday Winner

Jake Dost: Junior League Member – Sunday Winner

Kaitlyn Grommeck: Junior League Member – Sunday Winner

Jack Dailey: Junior League Member – Sunday Winner

Izzy Paraiso: Junior League Member – Sunday Winner

Mason Goettling: Junior League Member – Sunday Winner

Chance Witczak: Junior League Member – Sunday Winner


STATE HIGH SCHOOL INDIVIDUAL CHAMPIONS

(Note: Girls state tournaments were canceled for Covid-19-related safety concerns)

Nicholas Pevny: Boys 3A

Jordan Jennings: Boys 4A

Lucas Schulte: Boys 5A