The Ultimate Prize won’t be far from home for Aspen High School girls golf this spring. It is Nov. 14, AHS announced that Aspen Golf Club, just down the hill from the classrooms, will play host to the 3A girls golf state tournament, marking the first time Aspen will host a high-school state tournament.
The Skiers were originally slated to host their regional — the state-qualifying event — at Aspen Golf Club, but they got the nod for the upgrade. The tournament is slated for May 30 and 31, with the Skiers hoping to represent on their home turf as the program gains momentum.
“It’s a very exciting energy, especially with how much work we’ve put in recently,” Aspen junior Brooke O’Sullivan said in a phone interview. “It’s almost like a perfect storm.”
Aspen sent two competitors to state last year, freshman Lenna Persson — who finished 12th in state — and Audrey Woodrow, at 54th. The Skiers just missed Qualifying as a team for state, finishing third in regionals, where the top two teams earned an automatic bid with opportunities for Athletes to qualify individually. Junior Jade Hanson just missed the cut for qualifying, named a second alternate. All three figure to return next year with some reinforcements on the way.
O’Sullivan, a sophomore last year, missed the season due to a knee injury but finished 10th in the state as a freshman the year before. With her and Persson, the team already has two players threatening a top-10 position in the state, with Hanson and Woodrow working on their games.
Persson and Woodrow told the Aspen Daily News following their trip to state that the team is eager to get better. O’Sullivan said she and Persson were competing in tournaments over the summer and training. The team is already discussing trips to Grand Junction in the spring, ahead of the season and before the snow melts on their home course.
“We’re being pretty proactive about our practices, and just having fun with it is really our goal,” O’Sullivan said. “I think we’re all just super excited — and there’s no pressure on it. We’re all just in a state where this is what we want to be doing and it’s a really fun opportunity for us.”
Familiarity with Aspen Golf Club has not provided Aspen many advantages in recent history. The Skiers finished fifth of eight teams in the Skier Invitational in May, although they bested the only other 3A team in the competition by 37 strokes. They finished third of five in the 2021 edition as the only 3A group competing as a full team.
Boys head Coach Mary Woulfe said even her team hasn’t performed up to standards on their home course, although a third-place finish in their Invitational in August bucked the trend.
But the Skiers aren’t thinking about the past; they’re just forging forward.
“I feel like it’s going to excite some nerves while also calming some others,” O’Sullivan said of playing at home. “I think no matter what happens, it’s just going to be a very fun experience — just being at home and having our community behind us.”
There’s still a full season and the task of qualifying for state ahead of them, but the Skiers are looking forward to a chance to advance the program forward in the local eye.
“I want to say how excited I am and how grateful [we are] for CHSAA, [Aspen High Athletic Director] John Castrese and the Aspen Golf Course — Jim Pratt and Andrew Firman — for their support and ease of planning and deciding this fall,” Aspen head Coach Shannon Worth said via text. “As always, I just want the girls to have a good experience and I’m so happy they are excited and we made it happen.”