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South Salt Lake Journal

Cottonwood boys golf team looks for their best season in years

Sep 08, 2022 02:04PM ● By Brian Shaw

By Brian Shaw | [email protected]

When Greg Southwick took over as boys golf coach at Cottonwood High a few years ago he knew it would take a few years and probably a few classes of kids to turn the program around. According to Southwick the Colts may be ready to take that next step.

“The biggest thing I see from this group of kids is their improvement,” said the Colts head coach. “I think that we’re a contender for No. 1 in our region, and if we play good golf, we’ll finish No. 1.”

Fact is, the Colts have actually had a great boys golf program and tradition before; in the 1980s and ’90s they won four state championships (1985-86, 1996, 1998) and have churned out many golfers who earned All-State honors.

It’s just that the well has run dry recently of those golfers. Southwick, who also serves as Cottonwood’s athletic director, said he believes that’s due in part to fewer of Cottonwood’s student body playing golf; the school has a “high population of refugees” that may not have been introduced to the sport.

But, Southwick added that he’s doing everything he can to bring more kids out to play golf. That’s evident in Cottonwood’s roster, which currently stands at 20 student-athletes.

Of those 20, Southwick said that before it’s decided which 12 of those 20 (eight for the varsity, four for JV) will be selected for that week’s tournament stop, he has all 20 kids play qualifying rounds early in the week at their home course, the sprawling and scenic Murray Parkway, for the right to represent the black and gold. They’re then seeded for that tourney based on how they have finished those qualifiers.

This formula has worked quite well for Cottonwood thus far, as the Colts have found themselves to be highly competitive thus far.

The boys golfers started the 2022 season at Stansbury on a course that the Colts head coach described as having been in “bad condition with a lot of sandy greens.” That unfamiliarity with this course led to the Colts losing by four strokes and finishing as a team in third place in week one.

In week two, however, along the Gladstan Golf Course in Payson which is considered among the toughest to play in all of Utah, the Colts were both awed and inspired by the terrain but lost by three strokes and again finished in third place.

Week three is where the Colts put it all together in a round that Southwick added will not only go down as their best yet but will also count toward their qualification for the state tournament (of the eight tournaments Cottonwood plays in any given season, Southwick can choose three.)

This tournament was held at the Oquirrh Hills Golf Course in Tooele, and for the Colts boys who finished in second place, one stroke behind the leader, it showed the kind of consistency they must have going into the second half of the season, according to Southwick.

“On a consistent basis, we’re not having all four of our top players play good golf at the same time,” Southwick said. “If we’re gonna get all four playing at the same time we’ll be tough to beat.”

The four players to whom the coach is referring are led by senior Coleman Oettli and junior Ryan Nielsen, who captain the team. They play No. 4 (Oettli) and No. 3 (Nielsen) respectively, while Southwick added that he currently has a sophomore playing in the No. 1 slot and in the No. 2 slot, a freshman.

With five tournaments left before the class 5A state championships take place in early October, there is still plenty of time left for the four team leaders to improve and for other players to step up, added Southwick. But, he likes what he sees out of a group that is maturing and improving by the week.