For several of the area’s young golfers, the Cortez Junior Classic golf tournament provided a valuable experience.
Held at Conquistador Golf Club on June 26, the event played host to 50 golfers between the ages of 6 and 18 years of age.
While a few of the tournament’s golfers were new to the sport, many of those competing had at least some experience.
“Some of these kids, even though they might be six or seven, have been doing the junior clinic for a couple of years,” explained tournament organizer Jeff Carr.
Pacing the tournament’s older golfers, Montezuma-Cortez High School senior Ryan Aiken fired an 18-hole score of 81 to take top honors in the boys 15-and-up age division.
Playing nine holes in the girls 13-to-14 division, Ashley Wood set the pace with a score of 43, and Nathan Smith led the 13-to-14-year-old boys with a 9-hole score of 43.
Blake Keetch captured top honors in the boys 11-to-12 division with a nine-hole score of 46, while Kiara Lingenfelter finished first in the girls 11-to-12 division with a 9-hole score of 67.
“I like the competition,” said Keetch, explaining what he likes about competing in tournaments. “My goal is to shoot a round in the 40s.”
Rounding out the tournament’s top finishers, Troy Thompson registered a three-hole score of 17 to win the boys 10-and-under division, and Delta Suckla fired a three-hole score of 16 to win the girls 10-and-under division.
Several other golfers also played well, including 11-year-old Casen Allmon, who said that his goal for the tournament was to improve upon last year’s performance.
Carr said that events such as the Cortez Junior Classic are important because early exposure to golf can be crucial to success later on.
“If someone wants to be a competitive golfer at any age, starting early is key,” said Carr. “It’s like anything, the younger (a player starts), the better.”
Conquistador Golf Course will host youth golf clinics every Thursday morning throughout the summer.
The course will also host the first round of the Four Corners Junior Championship, which will take place July 9-10.
For more information on weekly golf clinics or the Four Corners Junior Championship, contact Conquistador Golf Club at 970-565-9208.