• Courtesy Photo / Courtesy Photo

    Erie resident Hadley Ashton prepares to hit a shot at the IMG Academy Junior World Championships in San Diego last week.

  • Courtesy Photo / Courtesy Photo

    Erie resident Hadley Ashton holds the trophy she won at the IMG Academy Junior World Championships in San Diego last week.



ERIE — Every parent envisions where their child is going to find their passion in whatever endeavor the pursue, whether it’s soccer, gymnastics or ballet.

Josh and Jessi Ashton were no different, toting their little girl Hadley to various events and watching as she tried things out, but knowing she didn’t have the interest to keep going.

That was until they took her to Colorado National Golf Club and put a club in her hand.

“It was one of the only things she would do without us having to be there with her,” said Jessi Ashton, a 1999 Boulder High alum, who went on to play volleyball at Clemson. “She would go out to the junior clinics and other than being a little timid, wasn’t afraid to go out there and do it.”

From those early days on the range with the Colorado National staff, including head pro Matt Schalk — who has been instrumental in her success — Hadley Ashton’s game has progressed at a rate that has seen her game evolve into something very special.

Hadley Ashton, 10, has won every Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado event she has entered this season and last week in San Diego at the IMG Academy Junior World tournament finished fifth in a talented field of 84, shooting a 3-over total of 219 over the three day tournament at Sycuan Resort – Oak Glen.

On the first day in San Diego, Hadley — who has been playing competitive golf since she was 6 years old — carded a career low 2-under par 70 and was just a shot out of the lead.

“I wanted to get top five again and kind of prove that I can come back,” said Hadley, who finished 22nd at the event last year and fifth as an 8-year-old. “After the first day I was in third place and I just worried about staying in that top five position and not worrying about the other girls.”

She maintained her spot with back-to-back rounds of 75 and 74 in a pressure packed event with girls from all over the world.

But it’s that aspect of the game that first peaked her fancy.

“It’s not a team sport and you re basically on your own. It’s very competitive and you don’t have someone there to back you off, so you have to work hard on your own,” she said.

And Hadley is wise beyond her 10 years. Her ability to control the highs and lows that come with not only every outing, but can fluctuate from shot to shot in any given round are uncanny and something that takes even the most seasoned players years to perfect.

“When things are going really well, I just don’t get too excited, stay calm, worry about the next hole and what I am going to do,” said Hadley, who will be a sixth-grader at Erie Middle School this fall. “And when it is bad, I just try to breathe and take deep breaths and think that I’ve got the next hole to come back.”

Hadley will be in action again on Thursday in Longmont at Twin Peaks G.C. in another Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado event before heading to Pinehurst, North Carolina for the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation World Championship Aug. 2-4.

Jon Yunt: or