Linked by golf
Area's best two girls golfers are friends rather than rivals
Taylor Walters didn’t hit the drive she wanted on hole No. 10 at Rifle Creek Golf Course, but a minute later she didn’t care. Kala Keltz stepped into the tee box and tattooed a drive down the middle.
“That’s my partner,” Walters exclaimed.
Five holes later, after Keltz was less than satisfied with her shot from the elevated tee box to the No. 15 green, Walters returned the favor. Her tee shot gave them a much better putt, and Keltz turned to Walters and said. “That’s my partner.”
That recent afternoon was oh so different for the Western Slope’s two best girls golfers. They were playing in a tournament, a two-person scramble, as teammates, not the high school tournaments where they are opponents, Keltz starring for Montrose and Walters starring for Rifle.
What remained the same was their friendship, a four-year evolution from deer-in-headlights freshmen who didn’t dare speak to each other, to confident seniors who will head to the Class 4A state tournament in Englewood this week trying to improve upon the top-seven finishes they achieved last year.
When they encountered each other for the first time, kind of knowing who the other was, they weren’t certain what to say or do. Being a freshman, playing high school golf for the first time — on the varsity, no less — and not knowing who or what awaited — well, the safe play was keeping your mouth shut.
By the end of that first year, however, things started to change. They spoke their first words to each other, albeit succinct.
“We were both going to state,” Walters recalled, “and it was like, ‘Good job, Kala.’ “
Keltz returned the compliment.
Sophomore year brought a little more of the well-wishing. Although they didn’t exactly become chatterboxes, they started learning more about each other, some of the background coming from their parents talking while watching their kids play tournaments.
“I think we started to realize our differences aren’t so vast,” Keltz said.
Then came junior year, and they realized they could be opponents and friends, and the world wouldn’t end.
“We really started talking,” Walters said, “and we found out we have some things in common. ... We started cheering for each other.”
They both played basketball. They both like country music. They both watch the TV show “Awkward.” They both like to eat — “A lot,” they say — although their athletic frames suggest the contrary.
More recently they learned they were born one day apart 18 years ago.
Oh yeah, they also have fantastic golf games. Each admires parts of the other’s game, although neither is deficient in any part of their game.
Well, maybe neither is accomplished in standing at an angle while hitting shots off a dirt mound at Rifle Creek. After deciding to play that ball during the scramble, each hit a poor shot that left them in the dirt-mound field.
“What were we thinking?” Walters asked.
Keltz had the answer: “We weren’t thinking.”
But they were having fun, their camaraderie evident throughout, on their way to finishing third in the tournament.
Monday, they won’t be teammates when they begin play at Broken Tee Golf Course in Englewood. For that matter, Keltz will be joined by three other Montrose girls with pretty good golf games as the Indians try to make some noise as a team.
But if Walters wins a state title ...
Or if Keltz wins a state title…
... Each says they’ll be as happy for the other as if they had won it themselves.
“She’s become one of my best friends,” Keltz said. “I wish her the best in everything.”