Luke Graham: Yampa Valley golf course is certain to frustrate | SteamboatToday.com

Luke Graham: Yampa Valley golf course is certain to frustrate

— Know this: The state golf championship at Yampa Valley Golf Course will frustrate the heck out of players from across the state – maybe nobody more so than the players coming from the Front Range. Judging from conversations, players coming for today and Tuesday’s state championship don’t believe the little course in Craig will play that tough.

A brief look at the scorecard lends itself to that belief. The course is short. The layout isn’t imposing. It doesn’t seem as though there is much trouble to be had.

But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Some of the steps that will be taken to toughen Yampa Valley include making holes No. 1 and No. 15 into par 4’s instead of par 5’s. The greens will be cut twice and rolled. That means anything above the hole or on the wrong side of the green almost certainly will signify a bogey.

As Steamboat Springs coach Scott Berry put it, having a 2-footer above the hole is 10 times harder than a 10-footer from below the hole.

The undulating greens most likely will be the smallest the field has seen all year. Depending on who sets the pins, a lot of the greens could play practically impossible. Add in a little wind – likely on both afternoons of play – and the course could play about as tough as any the field has seen.

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The keys might be the first four holes on the front nine. If you played just those on the scorecard, they wouldn’t frighten anyone.

But No. 1 as a par 4 with a small, heavily sloping green is a nightmare. The second takes course knowledge, while the third and fourth holes will reward only players who are below the hole. Heck, on any of the four holes, a two-putt could be a minor accomplishment.

All those facts help Steamboat Springs juniors Scott Ptach and Kaelen Gunderson. The two will have the most knowledge of anybody in the field, given that no Moffat County golfer qualified.

On Friday at Steamboat Golf Club, Ptach and Gunderson preached the importance of playing smart golf. They said the player who putts the best for the two days will have the best shot at winning.

The winner’s score won’t be under par. Mark it down.

It doesn’t matter what anybody thinks, but any player that’s shooting close to par will have played some phenomenal golf and may walk away with a state championship.

– To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com