Stern hopes to continue strokes at state golf

PHOTO BY DANIELLE STOMBERG—Grand Junction High’s Mark Stern practices his put at Lincoln Park Golf Course Friday afternoon.

Mark Stern saved his best for when he needed it the most.

The Grand Junction High School junior golfer had shot one round in the 70s during the prep regular season. In order to qualify for the Class 5A state tournament, he knew he’d have to score better.

Stern shot a 75 , his best score by three strokes, at the 5A Northern Region tournament in Boulder two weeks ago.

“I knew I was capable of shooting those numbers,” Stern said. “I’d been right there all year.”

Right there, save for an errant tee shot or a three-putt in nearly every tournament.

That’s what he eliminated in Boulder.

He’s hoping that consistent play can carry him through the two rounds of the state tournament, which begins Monday at the Eisenhower Golf Club at the Air Force Academy.

He had no tee shots out of bounds at the regional tournament.

“I was hitting off the tee really well,” he said.

That motivated him to hit the practice range even harder he past couple of weeks.

“Those shots that you really hit well or hit close (to the pin), those are the ones that bring you back to the course,” he said.

Stern, a junior, and Central’s Calan Hoppe, a senior, were the only School District 51 golfers to qualify for this season’s boys state golf tournament.

Stern has some legacy to draw on. His brother Matt qualified for the state tournament for Fruita Monument two years ago.

“He said (to) play it like it’s any other tournament,” Mark said of his brother’s advice.

The Eisenhower course, which Stern played earlier this season, is tree-lined.

“It’s pretty open, which fits me perfectly,” Stern said.

Greens are usually cut short for the state tournament, but Stern’s OK with that, too.

He’s paired with a familiar face, Durango’s Dylan Gillespie, as part of his first-round threesome.

“I love playing with him,” Stern said. “He keeps me calm.”

The two-day tournament tees off at 8:30 a.m. Monday and Tuesday.

The 4A state tournament is at Yampa Valley Golf Course in Craig.

Montrose earned the Western Slope’s team qualification, with the Indians’ Justin Russell posting the low score at the regional tournament with a 76.

The first-ever Class 3A state tournament is at Spring Valley Golf Course in Elizabeth.

Gunnison earned the team berth, but Ridgway freshman Nick Purvis had the low individual round at regionals with a 79.


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