Hank Franks has helped transform the Haymaker Golf Course into a statewide destination for the sport's brightest young talent.
Franks, Haymaker's head pro, remembers starting the Haywhacker Championship as a locals-only event that, since 1999, has grown into the region's premier tournament for 18-and-younger golfers to gain points toward their Colorado Junior Golf Association rankings.
"It's the credibility factor," Franks said. "We understand it's a benefit for us to stay on the Junior Golf calendar. It's good for tourism; now, the clubhouse is done, and people come up and understand how good the golf is, and it's good for the participants. A lot of these kids will be heading right into the NCAA."
This year's two-day tournament featured 178 golfers, 10 of whom were Routt County residents. Of the golfers claiming home turf, none fared better than Steamboat's Paul Berry. After shooting a 78 on Wednesday, Berry rallied to shoot a 70 on Thursday, two shots under par, for a combined score of 148 that tied him for third in the boys' championship division.
Using the summer golf season to prepare for his senior year, Berry pointed out the elite competition at the tournament.
"It was a good field. I think a lot of people are interested in practicing here to become familiar with the course," Berry said about Haymaker playing host to the Colorado 4A boys' state championships in the fall.
Despite Berry's impressive showing, Greeley's Brandon Tomasovich used four fewer strokes to win the boys' championship division with a score of 144.
"The wind was much more of a factor yesterday. I felt good today," said Tomasovich, 16, who helped lead the Greeley Central golf team to a state title in the fall.
Tomasovich was not the only state champion in attendance. Olivia Garard, who won the girls' 14 to 18 division with a score of 158, was playing fresh off a May 16 state title win in Pueblo as part of the Kent Denver girls team.
"My putting wasn't what I wanted, and the back nine killed me," Garard said. "I started with three bogeys. It was hard to recover, but I got it back with a string of pars."
Garard said she plans to carry the winning momentum and Colorado Junior Golf Association points into upcoming circuit tournaments and qualifier events.
Boulder's Brian Morfeld took second place with a 147, and Englewood's Beau Schoolcraft tied for third with a 148 in the boys championship division.
In the girls championship division, Denver's Elizabeth Kresock was second with a 167, and Teresa Sandri from Highlands Ranch took third with a 173.
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