Berry to lead young Sailors team

Golf coach optimistic about future of program

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The high school golf season started Monday. By Thursday, Steamboat Springs Coach Steve Dodson must have a team for the season-opening tournament at Battlement Mesa.

Talk about three pressure-packed practice sessions Mon--day, Tuesday and today.

"We've got a young group, but they are a good group," Dodson said Tuesday as the team practiced chipping and putting at Steamboat Golf Club. "This will be a rebuilding year, but we have several guys returning and some really good young guys coming up."

The Sailors have to replace four varsity players and three key members from last year's state-qualifying squad.

The only returning member from last year's state team is Paul Berry, and he is one of the state's top junior golfers regardless of class. He also is a potential individual state qualifier in Class 4A.

Whether Steamboat takes a team to state will be up to the inexperienced players who will spend the early part of the seven-week season learning what it takes to golf at the high school level.

Fortunately, the high school season begins on the tail of the mountain golf season. Many of the 25 boys on this year's team have been swinging their drivers, irons and putters since spring.

"A lot were able to play in statewide events or (junior) tournaments," Dodson said. "I encouraged them back in May, when we met, to play in as many as they could."

This year, the Sailors will field three teams -- a varsity, junior varsity and a junior varsity 2 team. Twenty-one golfers will travel to Parachute on Thursday, leaving some disappointed, Dodson said. But this year, the young players not traveling with the team will be able to continue their development with the help of qualified instructors Nina Krats and Scott Berry.

"I couldn't do this without them" Dodson said.

Krats, a golf professional at Haymaker Golf Course, spends most of her time with the course's juniors program. She has worked with several of the younger players on this year's Steamboat squad but doesn't spend much time coaching students older than 13.

She is excited about the opportunity to build the team's confidence and shot-making ability.

"We'll work on course management," she said. "The world's best golfers, like Ti----ger Woods and Annika Sor--enstam, are creative shot makers."

Krats said that when younger players line up for a shot, they pull the same club from their bag each time. She wants to teach the players that there are a variety of shots in every situation. While Dodson travels with the varsity team, she will be able to work with those not playing in tournaments.

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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