No Slowing Down Now

No Slowing Down Now

Posted on October 16, 2018

by Gary Baines

The trajectory of the three-year-old Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado is reminiscent of watching the ascendance of a tee shot hit by Dustin Johnson on Protracer.

A steady, impressive rise to the sky.

The JGAC, an organization founded and run by the CGA and the Colorado PGA, largely wrapped up its year with its Tour Championship and season-ending banquet on Oct. 7 at Denver Country Club. And it was an impressive season in numerous respects.

In fact, most of the numbers for Alliance-related events and programs were up substantially in 2018, year over year:

-- Membership -- which is now divided into three levels (Tour, Series and Introductory), depending on the skill and needs of given participants -- hit 995 in 2018. That's an 11 percent jump from 2018.

-- At the various levels, there were 5,007 entries for JGAC events, up 12 percent form last year.

-- This year, the JGAC oversaw 106 events, including 10 Drive, Chip & Putt qualifiers and the PGA Jr. League state championship.

-- Speaking of Drive, Chip & Putt, there were 1,286 participants in 2018, up 18 percent from last year.

-- In PGA Jr. League, 1,849 players competed, 29 percent more than in 2017. A total of 157 teams joined in, up 19 percent from last year.

-- Fifteen courses in Colorado participated in the first year of Youth on Course in the state, with 658 rounds of subsidized golf (so far) on the books, and $3,864 in subsidies paid to the courses. Youth on Course makes golf more accessible to juniors by capping their cost for a round at $5 at participating facilities, possibly with some date/time restrictions. Then a subsidy of a similar amount per round is paid to the participating course.

-- And funding has been approved for 10,053 kids to participate in the Colorado PGA Golf in Schools Program, which is supported by all the Allied Golf Associations in the state. The final number of participants for 2018 is to be determined as fall programming continues. Golf in Schools introduces kids to the game each school year through their P.E. classes at school.

"Our success is shown through our growth and our numbers and different things like that," said Ashley Barnhart, the CGA's director of junior competitions, who helps oversee the JGAC along with many other staffers and interns from the Colorado PGA and the CGA. "And I think people are becoming really familiar with our platform, which helps. There's a lot of word of mouth. Coaches, instructors and people like that are becoming active in the program, which is what we really set out to do. I think we had a great year because of that."

Beyond organizational success, JGAC members had some major individual and team accomplishments in 2018:

-- For the first time in 44 years of competing in the boys Junior America's Cup, the Colorado team won the competition against other squads from throughout the western U.S., as well as Canada and Mexico. Doubling the accomplishment, Dillon Stewart of Fort Collins claimed the individual title in the event. Also competing on the Colorado team (left) were Cal McCoy of Highlands Ranch, Davis Bryant of Aurora and Walker Franklin of Broomfield, Bryant is now a freshman on the Colorado State University golf team while McCoy is playing for the University of Denver. Stewart, who just won the 5A individual state high school title while his Fossil Ridge squad earned the team championship, is expected next month to sign a letter of intent to play college golf at perennial powerhouse Oklahoma State starting in the fall of 2019.

-- The JGAC hosted the Girls Junior Americas Cup for the first time in 18 years as Hiwan Golf Club in Evergreen brought together some of the best girls players from the western U.S., Canada and Mexico. The team representing Colorado finished fifth out of 18 in the event, its best showing in five years.

-- For just the second time in the short history of the Drive, Chip & Putt initiative, three Coloradans have qualified for the same National Championship. Three years after a trio of Coloradans competed in the national DCP event at Augusta National, Caitlyn Chin of Greenwood Village, Chunya "Bead" Boonta of Centennial and Grady Ortiz of Colorado Springs will do so in the 2019 event that will be held April 7 on the eve of the Masters. Each advanced through three qualifying events in 2018. Chin, who was one of the three Coloradans who qualified for nationals in 2016, will return next spring, making her the first player from the Centennial State to competed in the finals twice.

-- Stewart claimed two AJGA titles in 2018. In June, he became the first Coloradan to win the boys championship at the AJGA Hale Irwin Colorado Junior. Then in early September, he prevailed at the AJGA Junior at Big Sky in Montana, coincidentally the same state where he won the Junior America's Cup title. Another Coloradan that scored an AJGA victory in 2018 was Sofia Choi of Littleton, who won the AJGA Preview at Waubeeka in Massachusetta in early May.

-- Also winning a significant title on a larger stage in 2018 was Nicholas Pevny of Aspen, who took the top spot in the boys 12-13 division of the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships in Florida in July.

-- Another notable accomplishment came earlier this month when Lauren Lehigh of Loveland was among 12 girls -- and 24 junior golfers overall -- who were named to the 2018 Transamerica Scholastic Junior All-America Team by the AJGA. The honor is given to a very select group of junior golfers from all over the country and the world who particularly excel on the golf course, in the classroom and in the community. Lehigh's cumulative GPA for her first three years of high school is 4.116, and her best score on the SAT has been 1,430. She was later named the JGAC's 2018 Girls Player of the Year, while Stewart took the honor on the boys side.

-- Hadley Ashton of Erie had an outstanding showing at a prestigious international tournament as she finished fifth in the girls 9-10 division at the IMG Academy Junior World Championships in the San Diego area.

-- In May, Emma Bryant of Eaglecrest won the 5A girls state high school title as a freshman. The amazing thing about the accomplishment was that older brother Davis Bryant had won the 5A boys title last fall -- in the same school year. It was the first time two players with the same surname have won the boys and girls state individual prep championships in one school year. (The Bryants are pictured at left.)

-- Charlotte Hillary of Cherry Hills Village and Hailey Schalk of Erie, both high school sophomores at the time, made match play but lost in the round of 32 at the U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball Championship in late April.

(All the award winners recognized at the JGAC's recent banquet are listed below.)

While the junior golf season is nearly over in Colorado, there are some events held in mid and late October. For instance, the JGAC Parent/Child tournaments are scheduled for Oct. 27-28 at Indian Tree Golf Course in Arvada. And last Saturday, an Optimist Junior Tour event was held at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club in Denver, where 23 qualifying spots for the 2019 Optimist International Junior Golf Championships at Trump National Doral Resort in Miami were at stake.

The age-group winners included three Coloradans: Brandon Bervig of Colorado Springs (boys 16-18), Morgan Ryan of Centennial (girls 14-18) and Tyler Tyson of Arvada (boys 14-15).

2018 Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado Award Winners

Boys Player of the Year
Dillon Stewart of Stewart --
 Won individual title in Junior America's Cup, which featured some of the top junior golfers from the western U.S., Canada and Mexico. ... Led Colorado to its first team title ever in the boys Junior America's Cup. ... Became the first Colorado boy to win the AJGA Hale Irwin Colorado Junior. ... As a senior, won the 5A state high school individual championship and led Fossil Ridge to its first team title in boys golf. ... Notched his second AJGA title of 2018 at the AJGA Junior at Big Sky in Montana. ... Shared medalist honors in qualifying for the U.S. Junior Amateur. ... Finished second at the Colorado Junior Amateur. ... Has verbally committed to play college golf at Oklahoma State

Girls Player of the Year
Lauren Lehigh of Loveland -- 
One of 24 players (12 girls) worldwide to be named to the Transamerica Scholastic Junior All-America Team by the AJGA. The Loveland High School senior earned that honor by placing in the top five in an AJGA open or invitational, then based on the following criteria: standardized test scores, grade-point average, school leadership and community service. ... Won the girls division of the Colorado Junior Match Play, one of four JGAC majors. ... During the course of 2018 at JGAC events, won three times, placed second seven times and third three times. ... One of the runner-ups was in her title defense at the 4A state high school tournament. ... Finished third among girls at the AJGA Hale Irwin Colorado Junior. ... Helped lead Colorado to a fifth-place finish at the Girls Junior Americas Cup competition at Hiwan Golf Club in Evergreen, where Lehigh tied for 14th place individually. ... Finished 13th nationally in Big I National Championship. ... Has verbally committed to play in college at the University of New Mexico. ... Has been a member of the Hale Irwin Player Program for three years.
Girls Most Improved Player
Ashley Kozlowski of Littleton --
 Sixteen-year-old JGAC Tour player saw her scoring average decrease 16 strokes compared to 2017.

Boys Most Improved Player
Will Balliet of Thornton --
 Scoring average for the 12-year-old in 2018 was 11.9 strokes better than in 2017.
Award of Excellence (based on community service, character, overcoming hardship and showing spirit of the game of golf)
Max Heupel (left) --
 The multi-sport athlete and dedicated golfer started a non-profit called "Bagging Homelessness", raising money and buying supplies to create daily care packages for people living on the street.
10 & Under All-Stars
Taylor Wilson
Addison Hines
Maddie Makino
Livia Pett
Taylor Hale
Andre Dumonteil
Brayden Destefano
Clint Summers III
Sean Cary
Miles Kuhl

11-13 All-Stars
Charlie Flaxbeard
Matai Naqica
Wes Erling
Blake Sullivan
Nicholas Pevny
Hadley Ashton
Caitlyn Chin
Ashleigh Wilson
Emily Cheng
Kaitlin Zingler

14-18 All-Stars
Hunter Swanson
Maxwell Lange
Traejan Andrews
Tyler Tyson
Quinton Mosch
Amira Badruddin
Clara Hosman
Kaylee Jacobs
Jessica Mason
Elan Fleetwod

Tour All-Stars
Connor Jones
Emma Bryant
Walker Franklin
Charlotte Hillary
TJ Shehee
Caroline Jordaan
Davis Bryant
Hailey Schalk
Dillon Stewart
Lauren Lehigh

Points Chase Champions
Andre Dumonteil -- 10 & Under Boys
Taylor Wilson -- 10 & Under Girls
Charlie Flaxbeard --11 - 13 Boys
Hadley Ashton -- 11 - 13 Girls
Hunter Swanson -- 14 - 18 Boys
Amira Badruddin -- 14 - 18 Girls
Dillon Stewart -- JGAC Tour Boys
Lauren Lehigh -- JGAC Tour Girls
Academic All-Stars
Emaan Adil - Greenwood Village
Christian Agelopoulos - Denver
Ewan Albright - Boulder
Gavin Amella - Pueblo
Elisandro Aragon - Highlands Ranch
Brendan Archer - Vail
Amira Badruddin - Parker
Savannah Balint - Grand Junction
Brynn Balliet - Thornton
Jamie Banghart - Fort Collins
Parker Beasley - Denver
Katie Berrian - Castle Rock
Liam Beshoar - Montrose
Pierce Bickerton - Windsor
Logan Biggerstaff - Cherry Hills Village
Andrew Blair - Denver
Christian Blair - Denver
Emmett Bleem - Windsor
Caroline Brandon - Denver
Davis Bryant - Aurora
Emma Bryant - Aurora
Dylan Bundy - Lone Tree
Caleb Busta - Centennial
Logan Byler - Parker
Qwenton Caldwell - Littleton
Cody Caldwell - Woodland Park
Paige Carlson - Parker
Owen Casey - Denver
William Chadwick - Boulder
Kaylee Chen - Denver
Christina Cheng - Colorado Springs
Emily Cheng - Colorado Springs
Benjamin Chin - Greenwood Village
Caitlyn Chin - Greenwood Village
Alyssa Chin - Greenwood Village
Ella Chism - Centennial
Sofia Choi - Littleton
Noah Clough - Fort Morgan
Christian Cohan - Golden
Alex Colby - Castle Rock
Jax Collins - Golden
Alexis Cunningham - Denver
Benjamin Daane - Rapid City, S.D.
Garrett Dalton - Parker
Mitchell Davis - Strasburg
Mario Dino - Denver
Dakota Dolph - Pine
Jake Dost - Parker
Drex Duffy - Littleton
Raven DuKane - Broomfield
Graham Dzengelewski - Highlands Ranch
Sydney Elder - Centennial
Wesley Erling - Castle Rock
Dylan Everett - Highlands Ranch
Ryan Falender - Colorado Springs
Nick Fallin - Highlands Ranch
Nolan Farrar - Larkspur
Nicole Fatovic - Broomfield
Jack Finch - Centennial
Tyler Findlow - Lone Tree
Jack Flaherty - Broomfield
Bobby Flaherty - Broomfield
Charlie Flaxbeard - Greenwood Village
James Flaxbeard - Greenwood Village
Jeth Fogg - Colorado Springs
Oscar Ford - Centennial
Kaden Ford - Colorado Springs
Nick Formby - Frederick
Jaxon Franklin - Broomfield
Walker Franklin - Broomfield
John Fredericks - Denver
Brendan Fricke - Highlands Ranch
Oliver Gibbons - Lakewood
Jacob Gilbert - Watkins
Devin Gilbreath - Aurora
Anthony Giordano - Denver
Alexander Goeltl - Fort Collins
Jonas Graham - Parker
Christopher Gunlikson - Longmont
Taylor Hale - Eagle
Logan Hale - Eagle
Kalai Hamlin - Monument
Sam Hammock - Fort Collins
Ben Harding - Longmont
Maryn Harlow - Fort Collins
Corbin Harris - Littleton
Booth Hayes - Frederick
Allie Henson - Windsor
Max Heupel - Littleton
Thomas Hicks - Greenwood Village
Charlotte Hillary - Englewood
Carter Hinkle - Windsor
Clara Hosman - Parker
Landon Houska - Fort Collins
Kylee Hughes - Aspen
Freddie Ingham - Lone Tree
Kaylee Jacobs - Denver
Jack Jacobsen - Englewood
Jordan Jennings - Montrose
Clara Jeon - Centennial
Rhett Johnson - Littleton
Hadley Johnson - Thermopolis, Wyo.
Hardy Johnson - Thermopolis, Wyo
Connor Jones - Westminster
Trey Jones - Colorado Springs
Caroline Jordaan - Lakewood
Marie Jordaan - Lakewood
Nathan Kim - Castle Pines
Holden Kleager - Glenwood Springs
Carter Kovarik - Englewood
Ashley Kozlowski - Littleton
Brooke Kramer - Aurora
Benjamin Kriech - Parker
Drew Laake - Colorado Springs
Gisella Lagrimas - Castle Rock
Amalei Lagrimas - Castle Rock
Noah Larchick - Aurora
Will Leary - Fort Collins
Jake Legg - Montrose
Katelyn Lehigh - Loveland
Lauren Lehigh - Loveland
Jack Leibold - Littleton
Emily Kate Lisle - Evergreen
Frank Lockwood - Englewood
Davis Long - Lafayette
Josh Lowrey - Highlands Ranch
Josee Lurcott - Englewood
Macallister Lurcott - Englewood
Mason Magley - Loveland
Katherine Malcolm - Parker
Aidan Mann - Boulder
Natasha McClain - Denver
Cole McCoy - Highlands Ranch
Cal McCoy - Highlands Ranch
Sarah McDevitt - Elizabeth
Campbell McFadden - Denver
Piper McFadden - Denver
Gavin McWhorter - Loveland
Benjamin Medina - Denver
Andrew Merz - Colorado Springs
Grant Meyers - Brighton
Bennett Meyers - Brighton
William Mitchell - Lafayette
Jessica Morrissey - Golden
Tyler Mulligan - Parker
Roger Nakagawa - Denver
Zach Nehm - Grand Junction
Max Noffsinger - Greeley
Brittlynn O'Dell - Grand Junction
Yusuke Ogi - Arvada
Kota Ogi - Arvada
Liam O'Halloran - Colorado Springs
Finn Olson - Castle Pines
Eshaan Palanati - Aurora
Sam Patrick - Highlands Ranch
Will Perez - Denver
Eva Pett - Denver
Livia Pett - Denver
Elaina Phiel - Denver
Carlo Pine - Telluride
Dylan Pyle - Boulder
Nathan Rabuck - Denver
Keaton Rich - Arvada
Maya Romero - Aurora
Kailer Rundiks - Denver
Ryan Sangchompuphen - Denver
Spencer Schlagel - Parker
Jack Schubert - Highlands Ranch
Isabella Scott - Castle Rock
Travis Seitz - Steamboat Springs
Suchit Sharma - Thornton
Brady Shaw - Pueblo
TJ Shehee - Mead
Timbre Shehee - Mead
Isabella Short - Evergreen
Jack Siler - Aurora
Aidan Sim - Parker
Windrem Smith - Fort Collins
Mena Song - Lew - Colorado Springs
Jack Stafford - Parker
John Stevens - Green Mountain Falls
Peter Stinar - Colorado Springs
Molly Stratton - Centennial
Blake Sullivan - Castle Pines
Carter Surofchek - Colorado Springs
Hunter Swanson - Denver
Sydney Taylor - Fort Collins
Leanne Telle - Colorado Springs
Conner Thomas - Frederick
Dawson Thulin - Denver
Jack Tickle - Centennial
Collen Todd - Golden
Jack Tourault - Broomfield
Lauren Tucker - Lone Tree
Taylor Tucker - Lone Tree
Charlie Tucker - Castle Pines
Zach Tyson - Arvada
Tyler Tyson - Arvada
James Wagner - Erie
Sean Wallace - Denver
Kelsey Webster - Boulder
Max Weisser - Denver
Jake Welch - Highlands Ranch
Gabrielle Werst - Fort Collins
Jacob Whelan - Highlands Ranch
Matthew Wilkinson - Centennial
Blake Williams - Lone Tree
Jadie Wilson - Denver
Ashleigh Wilson - Highlands Ranch
Taylor Wilson - Highlands Ranch
Liam Wood - Boulder
Garrett Wood - Centennial
Colin Young - Highlands Ranch
Grace Young - Highlands Ranch
Max Zadvorny - Centennial
Jessica Zapf - Windsor
Ian Zweifel - Orlando, Fla.