BROOMFIELD — Prospect Ridge Academy junior Walker Franklin isn't playing to win a state title for just himself or even for just his Miners boys golf team.
One of a handful of favorites to challenge for the Class 3A individual state title, Franklin has set his sights on leaving the state tournament at Boulder Country Club on Oct. 1-2 with the first-place trophy in hand. If he does, Franklin's first state championship would also be the first in any sport for Prospect Ridge.
Winning state would be special for Franklin. For Prospect Ridge, it would be historic.
"It would be really cool to be a part of history and be the first person to hang a banner in the gym for a state championship," Franklin said. "I really wanted to do it last year but I just didn't hit it as well as I would have hoped. That putt on the last hole, I still think about it."
Franklin was painfully close to accomplishing his lofty goal as a sophomore in 2017.
With rainy weather shortening last year's 3A state championships to one day, Franklin was 3-under after not carding a bogey all round and needed to make par on the final hole to force a playoff with Peak to Peak's Davis Long. Franklin, however, lipped out a three-foot downhill putt to bogey the par-4 ninth hole at Indian Peaks Golf Course and finished in a tie for second place while Long was crowned champion.
Preparing for what he hopes will be a precedent-setting fall season, Franklin had a strong summer that included a different big-time career first. Playing as a member of Team Colorado from July 24-26, Franklin placed 27th overall to help the Colorado players win the Junior America's Cup for the first time in 44 years of trying.
The son of Canadian Golf Hall of Famer Brent Franklin and 1986 CWGA Stroke Play champion Kristine Franklin, Walker Franklin, who averaged a remarkable 68 strokes per round last season, believes this summer's hard work and expected future improvements will position him for the state-title run he wants to make in September and October.
"I always believe that I have a chance to win," Walker Franklin said. "If I play well and just continue to stay focused, I believe I can win every tournament. I don't want to seem cocky, but that's just what I believe. I've played more solid and my scores have dropped a couple shots on average. I'm still not hitting the ball great and making some wrong decisions with club selection so I feel like there's room for improvement too."
Franklin leads a Prospect Ridge team that did not qualify for state in 2017 and will be a young group this season now that his older brother Jaxon Franklin has graduated. The Miners also have a new head coach in Eric Hoos, Franklin's uncle who played professional golf and was the head coach at the University of Denver for 15 years from 1999-2014, and Kristine Franklin will be the team's assistant coach.
"I know Walker, obviously, can play," Hoos said. "I also only know that we graduated some starters last season and we'll have a bunch of freshmen coming in so we won't truly know for a while what we have. It'll be a big change to coach high school and I'm excited to get with the guys and try to help them get better."
The Miners will be without Franklin for the first two tournaments of the season while he is playing AJGA tournaments in California. When he returns, Franklin will do so with one goal: hang a banner.