Taylor Walters knows she's learned a lot since her freshman year at Rifle High School.
Granted, the senior had a lot to learn when she joined Rifle's girls golf team. She had a lot to learn about the game, how to approach it and how to approach the tournaments she would play in with her team.
Walters' approach to the game has been her biggest asset, however. It's not only netted her a pair of tournament championships so far this season, but a top-10 finish at last year's Class 4A State Championships.
"It's incredible how my mental game has changed after all these years of playing," the 18-year-old said.
The three-time state qualifier has already made a name for herself during her first three years on the high school golf scene. Last season, Walters added to that resume by finishing seventh with a two-day score of 153 at the championships. That score helped the Bears finish seventh in the team standings.
But Walters is always trying to get better and never seems willing to settle. That proved true on Monday at the Battlement Mesa Golf Course, where her score of 81 in cold, blustery conditions netted her a three-stroke victory.
"I hit it well, but I couldn't really score well," said Walters, lamenting the three- and four-putt holes she had despite carding birdies on hole Nos. 7, 8 and 17.
Hitting it well from the tee box has always been something Walters has been able to do. Her growth as a player, however, has been her approach to each hole and the recovery she can make after a poor shot rather than the distance she can drive the ball.
"She has come miles and miles with her mental game," Rifle coach Britt Choate said. "One of the biggest things in golf is how fast you recover from a bad shot or hole and how you contain your emotions after that happens.
"Has she learned to do that?" the coach continued. "You bet."
Walters couldn't agree more.
"I think back to when I played as a freshman," she said. "I look back and laugh now at some of the decisions I made back then.
"If I was 200 yards away from the hole, I'd pick out the club that could get me to the green fastest. Now, instead of picking out the biggest driver I have, I'm looking at the club that's going to put me in the best position to score well."
Last year's state tournament score at Boomerang Links in Greeley, along with her first-place finish at the regional tournament beforehand, was evidence of that. Not that she wasn't doing well prior to that, as Walters netted a second-place regional finish as a sophomore.
All of that hard work has given her a chance to play college golf, as she has made a verbal commitment to play for Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction next fall. Before that, though, Walters hopes to finish off her high school career on a high note.
And so far, she's on the right track.