BOULDER — Let’s face it, the role of high school golf coach is pretty cushy.
With the advancement and technology of the game and with most of the really good kids having their own private coaches or taking expensive lessons on the side, the high school golf coach is more of a figurehead/bus driver than a coach.
That is not so much the case at Boulder. Rick Uhlir returned to the position after stepping away in 2000 and as the old E.F. Hutton commercials used to go: “When he speaks, they listen.”
Uhlir’s deeper knowledge and understanding of the game, combined with his ability to relate with today’s teenagers, makes him a much-needed commodity for the Panthers, especially this coming Monday and Tuesday at Murphy Creek G.C., the site of the Class 5A state championships.
“He’s been a big help in our practice rounds, especially with as much tournament golf experience he has. He can see issues on the course that none of can see,” said junior Grant Rogers, who rolls into state fresh off a Western Region championship at Raccoon Creek. “Just having him out there is always a big help. We all take his advice very seriously.”
Said Uhlir, who doubles as a teaching pro at Lafayette’s Indian Peaks G.C.: “I try not to say too much, but hopefully when I do, it makes sense.”
The Panthers finished fourth at state last season at Rolling Hills and each member of the Boulder qualifying foursome — Rogers, Grant Dinkel, Alec Poorman and Leo Heuttel — wants to improve on that. The first day, the Panthers are paired with defending state champion Regis Jesuit and runner-up Ralston Valley.
“We are very excited about this. We gained a lot of experience last year and we’ve been looking forward to this the whole season,” said Dinkel, who along with Poorman tied for 15th at state last season. We have very high expectations of ourselves going in. If we all play well we think we can win as a team and any one of us could win individually.”
The Panthers, who finished second in the Front Range League race behind Fairview, like their chances at the wide-open layout at Murphy Creek. There is a little bit of target golf involved, but for the most part, the Boulder bombers should be able to bust out the driver and shorten the course considerably.
“It’s a course that plays to our advantage,” Dinkel said. “There are a bunch of opportunities out there. There are a couple of driveable par-4’s and all the par-5’s are reachable with good drives.”
Said Rogers: “I think Murphy Creek is a great course. It definitely lets us hit the driver, which plays into our advantage a little bit.”
Boulder County’s big schools will be well represented in Aurora. Fairview — with Kevin Wohlfarth, Jackson Vacek, Daniel Pearson and Cason McHose — figures to have a say in the team chase as well. Monarch will have three of its four players there, which means they will count in the team standings. Josh Hill, Alex Mautz and Taylor Cooper will represent the Coyotes.
Finally, Legacy has an outside chance at the team title even after finishing fourth in the season-long Front Range standings. Senior Li Chen made a valiant run at the state title last year and ultimately lost by one shot to Douglas County’s Kyler Dunkle, who is also in the field this week. The Lightning are looking for big things from Chen, Trevor Glen, Spencer Roberts and Zach Moritz.
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