LAKEWOOD — There is always room for improvement.
That was the mentality Lakewood senior Jack Castiglia had during the off-season. Before beginning his senior campaign the three-time Class 5A boys golf state qualifier went through a grip and swing change. Despite finishing with a third straight top-40 finish at the state tournament and another 5A Jeffco League all-conference selection, Castiglia knew it was time for a change.
“I had always had a pretty unorthodox grip and swing,” Castiglia said during a practice at Fox Hollow Golf Course on Aug. 11. “It was just time to go more conventual, something I can be more consistent with going forward.”
Castiglia worked hard last spring on his new grip and swing. He kept busy this summer with practice and playing tournaments to prepare for his final prep season on the links.
The new grip and swing definitely worked for Castiglia at the AJGA WinCraft/McArthur Towel & Sports Future Legends tournament last month in Waukesha, Wis. Castiglia fired a tournament-best final round of 68 to finish tied for third, just behind former Lakewood teammate Griffin Barela who is a freshman playing at the University of Wisconsin.
Lakewood coach Alan Gonzales describes Castiglia’s new swing as “looking perfect right now” as the Tigers open up conference play Monday, Aug. 14, at Deer Creek Golf Course with the first of six Jeffco League tournaments this fall.
“That was something we were pleased about. It is something that needed to change,” Gonzales said of Castiglia’s swing evolution. “It’s tough as a teenage kid to make a change. Making a grip change doesn’t sound like a big change, but we all know it’s a big change and commitment.”
Another big change for Lakewood was the graduation of all-conference selections Barela, Grayden Wolfe and Max Camp-Oberhauser. Lakewood is the three-time defending 5A Jeffco League team champion, but Gonzales knows it won’t be easy with the majority of his top players graduating last spring.
“It’s going to be tough,” Gonzales said. “We lost a lot of good leadership and a lot of good talent. The good thing is these young kids learned from those players and we still have Jack to teach them as well.”
One benefit for the Tigers is the fact that six of eight 5A Jeffco all-conference selections graduated. Ralston Valley senior Landon Thunell is the only other returning all-conference selection besides Castiglia.
“It’s a challenge,” Gonzales said. “We like a challenge. We can’t be our best unless we are challenged through the whole season.”
Castiglia is up for the challenge to heading into his final shot to make a solid run to a strong finish to his prep career.
“I want to play a lot better than I have a state. Try to get into that top-5,” said Castiglia, who is hoping to play in college. He is making a visit to the University of Northern Colorado next week. “I know I have the capability to win it.”
Class 4A Jeffco boys golf
Green Mountain senior Gabe Goodman was as close as you can be from winning the 4A Jeffco League individual medalist title.
A season-long duel with Evergreen’s Lenny Urbas ended with Goodman just on the short end of the stick. Goodman and Urbas were deadlocked going into the final hole of the final Jeffco League tournament last fall. Urbas, who finished a shot ahead of Goodman at the state tournament too, sank a long birdie putt to win the individual medalist title by a single stroke.
“That would be huge because last year I lost it with a 35-foot putt,” Goodman said of winning the 4A Jeffco individual medalist title this fall. “It would be awesome to finally get that. That’s pretty important to me.”
Goodman spent a lot of time at his home course of Bear Creek Golf Club this summer, along with playing several tournaments. The highlight of Goodman’s summer was playing in a national junior tournament at the PGA National Golf Club in Palm Beach Florida.
“That was a great experience,” said Goodman, who finished his junior season with a 16th place finish at the 4A state tournament.
The Rams’ top golfer has some good vibes going into the season. He believes he can finish the season with a scoring average under 72. At the end of the line is a likely fourth trip to the state tournament Oct. 2 and 3 that will be held at one of Goodman’s favorite courses.
“I do like that Raccoon Creek course. I’ve had some good results there,” Goodman said. “It’s where I actually qualified for state my freshman year. I shot an 81 at regionals. I have good memories out there.”
Goodman is looking at a pair of colleges in California to continue his golf career — Chapman University and Loyola Marymount University.
“He (Goodman) is very consistent any ways, but I think he just needs to keep that consistency up and keep his focus where it needs to be,” Green Mountain coach Derek Van Tassel said. “He is going to be a great senior leader for us.”