Swinging into state golf: Grider, Stern to tackle Saddle Rock

Ethan Grider

School: Fruita Monument

Grade: Senior

Height: 6-foot-0

Weight: 135

Years at state tournament: 1

Monday’s pairing: 9:42 a.m. on No. 10 with Jay Byrne, Monarch and Randy Urso, Grandview

Clubs: Cleveland CG Red

Best club: Pitching wedge. “That’s the club I feel like I can get a lot of birdies with.”

Finish at Northern Regional: 78, sixth qualifier

Strengths: Irons. Grider can maneuver around most courses with his strong iron game. Grider also has the advantage of having played Saddle Rock several times when he attended Highlands Ranch before moving to the Western Slope.

Weakness: Putting. Grider said from time to time he has a hard time reading greens.

Course management: “The course is deceiving. There’s shots where you want to hit a club shorter when really it’s a club longer. There’s also a lot of native grass all around, which can be difficult.”

Keys at state: “In order to me to perform well I have to hit a lot of greens.”

Coach Dave Fox’s thoughts: “He can play consistent, he can go low, he’s shot a 69 this year, so he’s got the game to play well. Ethan is really talented, and a lot of his game is being calm and collected.”

Mark Stern

School: Grand Junction

Grade: Senior

Height: 5-foot-9

Weight: 150

Years at state tournament: 2

Monday’s pairing: 10:09 a.m. on No. 10 with Tanner Jenson, Chaparral and Parker Sheldon, Cherokee Trail

Clubs: Taylor Made Burner

Best club: 8 iron. “I have the most confidence in it. I always know when I’ve got 160 yards to go to it.”

Finish at Northern Regional: 76, third qualifier

Strengths: Short game. Not a big hitter, Stern’s chipping and putting is up there with some of the best in the state.

Weakness: 3 wood. Stern said he hasn’t had much success with the fairway wood lately, and has not used it off the tee.

Course management: “I’ve heard it’s a links-style course with not a lot of trees. It’s similar to the regional course at Riverdale (Dunes).”

Keys at state: “I’m going to have to hit the ball well off the tee. It’s a fairly long course, and I have to give myself chances. And just consistency like I had a regionals, trying to stay away from the big numbers.”

Coach Tom LeFebre’s thoughts: “We’ve talked about the experience he gained last year, so this year the focus is to go over there and not be overwhelmed by the situation, but to play the best golf he can. So it’s a matter of Mark believing in himself, and having the confidence that he can go over and play with these kids.”

Saddle Rock Golf Course

Location: Aurora

Par: 72

Yards: 7,351

Years hosting tournament: 0

Architect: Richard Phillips, 1997

Head Golf Professional: Mickey Byrne

Signature hole: No. 10. The 404-yard par 4 is one of the most challenging holes on the course that leads into a difficult back nine. Piney Creek works its way throughout the course providing water hazards.

Scoring holes: The par 5 holes. Saddle Rock Superintendent Joe McCleary said par 5s on No. 1, No. 6 and No. 17 are all opportunities for players to earn birdies or eagles.

Course management: “I think it’s a good course for all levels and abilities. It will be a little cooler and if the weather is unfriendly, that can be a challenge, because it’s wide-open course with not a lot of trees to block wind.”  — McCleary.

Keys to playing well: “The key is keeping the ball in the fairway. Also you have to make sure you take a good look at the putts because there slopes on the greens and balls can take off and you can be in trouble.” — McCleary.


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