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Boys golf: Silver Creek’s Ben Harding runs away with NCAC meet at Twin Peaks

Even-par 70 good enough to beat field by four strokes

Silver Creek's Ben Harding takes his ...
Alissa Noe/
Silver Creek’s Ben Harding takes his shot on the fairway on the 18th hole at Twin Peaks Golf Course during a Northern Colorado Athletic Conference tournament on Monday, Aug. 30, 2021.

LONGMONT — Often, in the game of golf, improvement comes with maturity and a better understanding of how to transition between the good rounds and the bad.

On Monday at Twin Peaks Golf Course, where the members of the Northern Colorado Athletic Conference converged for a league tournament, Silver Creek junior Ben Harding overcame a few tough shots to defeat the rest of the field as he finished at even-par 70 through hot and draining conditions. His earlier play set him up nicely to secure the lead going into the final few holes. It didn’t matter that he double-bogeyed the 17th hole and bogeyed on 18, nor that almost every other golfer still had holes to play.

Nobody could catch him in the end.

“Swinging a little faster definitely helps in the rough, definitely helps hit the ball farther, helps make some holes easier,” Harding said. “(This course) is definitely different. It’s more open off the tee, it’s shorter. It’s actually probably longer than some of the courses we’ve played since we’re just playing back tees, but it’s not super long and it’s not super tight off the tee. It’s definitely tougher on and around the greens. Putting’s pretty difficult out here.”

After notching an 18th-place finish in the Class 4A state golf tournament last fall, Harding’s been laser-focused on how to improve his performance ahead of regionals and state for his junior season. His coach, Tyler Bishop, has already noticed a marked improvement in the player who he believes has a shot to contend for an individual title this year.

“Ben has improved just by pure experience and playing in more competitive tournaments with better players and the realization that he’s actually a really good player,” Bishop said. “With all that being said, he’s been able to put himself in the position and realize that he has the tools right now to be pretty dang good. He understands what it’s like to be even better.”

Despite Harding’s top-tier marks on Monday, Holy Family’s team just edged out the Raptors for second place. Windsor won out as a team at 303 strokes and the Tigers lagged behind at 319. Silver Creek, by comparison, took third at 322.

Alissa Noe/
Holy Family’s Rudiger Heitz chips the ball out of the rough on hole 17 during a Northern Colorado Athletic Conference tournament at Twin Peaks Golf Course on Monday, August 30, 2021. (Photo by Alissa Noe/

Holy Family’s Rudiger Heitz played a heavy-handed role in that team finish as the sophomore tied for fifth at 7-over par 77. During his freshman season, he never hit a round in the 70s.

This year, he’s already achieved the feat three times.

“I did a lot of work on my irons over the summer and that dropped my scores a lot,” Heitz said. “Last year, I couldn’t really keep the ball in the green. I focused on hitting more greens and this year, I’ve been consistently hitting much more than half of all the greens.”

He practiced much more this offseason than he ever has before, making it out to the course three to four times a week to fine-tune every aspect of his game. Now, he believes he can drop those scores even more if he improves his short game.

Centaurus junior Asa Wentworth similarly boasted a strong day when compared to the rest of the 50-person field as he carded a 78 and finished eighth. He knows he can play better in the long run, as long as he reins in his swing.

At Twin Peaks, his ball veered right a bit more than he liked, he hit it in the water and finished with a higher number of strokes than he hoped. Still, this year, he’s seeing his hard work in the offseason pay off.

He just hopes he can elevate his game even more as the season wears on.

“I’m definitely way improved from last year, my scoring average is improved,” Wentworth said. “It’s not totally improved in the league tournaments, but it’s improved for all the rounds I’ve played so far this season. I feel way more confident with my game. I just know I can come out here and really compete and put up a great score, but there were too many bad shots that I hit.”

Centaurus’ Asa Wentworth chips the ball out of the rough on the 16th hole during a Northern Colorado Athletic Conference tournament at Twin Peaks Golf Course on Monday, August 30, 2021. (Photo by Alissa Noe/