Sailors head west for first girls golf regional | SteamboatToday.com

Sailors head west for first girls golf regional

Austin Colbert

— This has been a monumental week for the Steamboat Springs High School girls' golf team. The biggest difference has been the ability to play actual golf — outside, on green grass — a luxury the Sailors haven't had during a snowy spring.

"The most important thing for them is to be able to watch their golf ball. There is a lot you can learn from a golf swing by watching your golf ball," Sailor golf coach Shannon Hanley said. "Hopefully, the girls will be as ready as they can possibly be, given our short season in Steamboat."

The SSHS girls' golf program is in its first year — a trial run, of sorts — and will compete in its first regional tournament Saturday at the Yampa Valley Golf Course in Craig. From a roster of 12, Hanley was tasked with selecting four girls to make the short trip west this weekend, a decision she found difficult.

Heading to Saturday's Class 4A Western Slope regional are senior Jenna Miller and junior Kellyn Stanhope, alongside sophomores Amanda Perlman and Sarah Heineke.

"We are hoping to just try our best and do our best, because there are girls out there that are going to college for this," Heineke said. "And, since this is the first year, we are just happy we are going. We are excited, but nervous."

Given the generally gloomy weather in the Yampa Valley this spring, most of the SSHS girls' golf season has been dedicated to building life skills. They strength-trained and studied yoga with Charlie Chase, learned about nutrition and hydration from Natural Grocer's Alicia McLeod and, occasionally, were able to practice in Hanley's Steamboat studio, which has some high-tech toys for learning to golf.

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"Being outside is a different experience. I'm learning a lot this week, because I can see where the ball is going," Perlman said. "I'm just excited to go out there and do my best. I'm not concerned about winning, just having fun."

Other than the few tournaments the weather has allowed them, the amount of time the Sailors have spent outside playing golf has been almost non-existent this season.

However, the team did hold its end-of-the-year banquet last week in Craig, at which the girls were able to get some long-overdue time on the course and play alongside their dads in a father-daughter scramble to celebrate the Sailors' unique first season.

"It's crazy the difference it makes other than just sitting in front of a screen and hitting on turf," said Miller, who won the in-house scramble alongside her father, Jim Miller, a golf pro at Sonnenalp Club in Edwards. "Since we are the first team to go (to regionals), we've got to set the bar somewhere. We just want to go out there and have some fun and play some golf."

Considering the overall lack of experience and limited practice time, the Sailors understand the chances of any of them qualifying for the state tournament are slim. And this is fine with the athletes, who at no point had a state title as one of their short-term goals this season.

"It's just like a developing year for coach and everybody else," Stanhope said. "It was a really good team for just the first year of girls golf. I'm super excited for the years to come."

Saturday's regional in Craig is scheduled to start at 10 a.m.

To reach Austin Colbert, call 970-871-4204, email acolbert@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Austin_Colbert

4A Western Slope regional golf tournament

When: 10 a.m. Saturday

Where: Yampa Valley Golf Course, Craig

Who: Representing the Sailors are Jenna Miller, Amanda Perlman, Sarah Heineke and Kellyn Stanhope.