Course record nearly broken at Soda Pop Open
Soda Pop Open, Age Group Scores
Girls 9 & under (3 holes): 1. Roie Vandevander, 30; 2. Rylan Petree, 47; 3. Olivia Miernicki, 51.
Girls 10-12 (9 holes): 1. Jadyn Petree, 96; 2. Paige Morrissey, 97; 3. Katelyn Brennan, 101.
Girls 13-15 (9 holes): 1. Baylee Johnson, 59; 2. Nadia Shea, 115.
Girls 16-18 yrs. (9 holes): 1. Cheyanne Williams, 50; 2. Megan Nieslanik, 59.
Boys 9 & under (3 holes): 1. Owen Tucker, 14; 2. Andon Robinson, 20; 3. Tyler Exelbert, 21.
Boys 10-12 (9 holes): 1. Reece Vandevander, 48; 2. Braden Exelbert, 52; 3. Fisher Scott, 55.
Boys 13-15 (18 holes): 1. Jack Hughes, 63; 2. Colter Zwieg, 68; 3. Jack Pevny, 71.
As several young golfing hopefuls were practicing their craft on the putting green of the Glenwood Golf Course, assistant professional Jim Roy scurried around the deck of the clubhouse putting out bags of chips, beverages and hot dog buns in preparation for the post-tournament lunch that would greet all the participants in the annual Soda Pop Open Golf Tournament.
A total of 61 boys and girls signed up for this year’s Soda Pop, which is the oldest junior golf tournament in the state of Colorado. Course general manager Jerry Butler estimated that the tourney began in the early 1960s and has consistently attracted area golfers of varying ability levels during its six-decade run.
The swings started bright and early on a crisp first day of August, as Butler guided the 9 years and under age division to a makeshift tee box on hole number 7 fairway. Butler’s joy at seeing all the kids ready to rumble was equal to that of the participants, who couldn’t wait to get some balls flying through the air.
“This is my favorite group right here,” said Butler, as he pointed to the gathering of kids and their parents. “Getting them out here at a young age is what this tournament is all about.”
One of the many unique aspects of the Soda Pop Open is that several parents, who were serving as caddies for their children, had played in the tournament when they were growing up in the Roaring Fork Valley.
“I played in this tournament every year when it didn’t conflict with a baseball game,” said Carbondale resident Don Vandevander. “I remember winning the 3-hole event with a score of 22 when I was 7 years old,” Vandevander said with a chuckle, as he walked along with his 11-year old son Reece.
Reece Vandevander must have been motivated by his dad’s company, as he carded a birdie on the par 3 eighth hole, after hitting a tee shot within a club’s length of the cup that would have been the envy of many on the PGA Tour. Vandevander went on to shoot a 9-hole total of 48 to edge Braden Exelbert (52), for the championship of the boys 10-12 year old division. Vandevander’s sister Roie, not to be outdone by her older brother, shot a 30 to win the girls 9 and under division.
The low 9-hole score for the day in the girls’ division was recorded by New Castle’s Cheyanne Williams, who fired an even 50. Williams will soon be starting her high school season as a member of the Coal Ridge golf team.
A very impressive score on the day came from Owen Tucker, who took 14 strokes to complete the hole 7, 8, 9 swing in the boys 9 years and under division. Tucker, from Lincoln, Nebraska, was only three shots over par for his 3-hole total.
The big news of the Soda Pop Open came late in the afternoon as Aspen’s Jack Hughes raised several eyebrows with a scorching 18-hole total of 63. Hughes, age 14, was just 2 shots off the Glenwood Golf Course record of 61. Hughes’ 9-hole rounds were 31-32 en route to his boys 13-15 year old division title. Colter Zwieg, also of Aspen, shot a 68, which is 2 shots under par. Jack Pevny carded a 71 to round out the top 3 in a division that would have held up well in the championship flight of the Glenwood Open.
There were some low scores on the day, and some high scores, but all the smiles on the kids’ faces at the end of the tourney as they munched chips, gnawed on hot dogs, and yes, drank some soda pop indicated that the annual youth tourney on “The Hill” produced nothing but happy outcomes once again this year.
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