Lakes, pot bunkers and 36 holes are the only things that separate 84 of the state's best young players from a coveted state title.
"I'm trying not to think about it," Steamboat Springs senior Jeff Franks said of winning a state title. "I definitely don't feel any pressure to win."
Last year, Franks was the only Sailor to advance to the state finals. He finished third. This year he will lead a group of four golfers to the Boomerang Golf Links in Greeley hoping to improve on his 2001 finish and maybe grab a team title as well.
If the Sailors want to do well in Greeley, Boomerang professional Kenny Anderson said the Steamboat players would need to keep their balls in the middle of the course.
"The key to beating this course is to attack the fairways and keep the ball in play," Anderson said.
With seven lakes on the front nine and two on the back, keeping the ball in play will be a challenge for all of the players.
Anderson said the young players would face water which lines the right side of the first four holes. If players decide to go left they will need to avoid the out-of-bounds markers.
"I'm going to have to stay patient and trust my swing," Franks said. "The only person out there who can beat me is me."
Franks will be joined by teammate Cody Sherrill, Kenton Gamache and Ryan Brees.
"This is the first time we've gone as a team," Sailors coach Jason Deigert said. "But I don't think these guys are thinking about that. They know they can be competitive with any team in the state if they just play their game."
Deigert said he would tell the team to go out and have fun, but to remain focused on the challenging golf course.
"This is the type of golf course where the better players will rise to the top," Deigert said. "It doesn't favor the long-ball hitter. This course favors the golfer with a complete game."
Anderson agrees, saying that to do well on the course golfers must stay in the fairway and avoid many pitfalls. The greens are large, so players will have to be on target with approach shots. Anderson said the native grass that lines the fairways is sparse right now because of the drought, but the lakes are fine. The greens and fairways are also in excellent shape.
The golf course hosted the girls state tournament in 1998 and has been open since 1991. Anderson said it will play just under 7,000-yards for the boys state tournament and the most challenging hole will fall in the middle of the course on No.9.
"It will be a good test," Anderson said. "It plays 436-yards downhill with water on the right side," Anderson said.
Players will also have to avoid a pot bunker, which sits dead center in front of a very narrow green.
"There is no doubt that driving accuracy is very important when playing this course," Anderson said. "Players will need to keep the ball in the fairway if they hope to score well."
Franks said he has played the course in the past and is excited about the chance to return. He is confident about his and his team's chances of doing well in Greeley.
"I'm striking the ball well right now," Franks said. "I'm very confident that the whole team will do well."
Franks will be in the second-to-last group to tee off on the front nine Monday. He will tee off at 10:18 a.m. along with Windsor's Dustin Erbes and Ralston Valley's Ryan Webber.
Sherrill will begin play at 8:30 a.m., Kenton Gamache tees off at 9:06 a.m. and Ryan Brees will start at 9:51 a.m.