Holy Family's Hailey Schalk ends her high school girls golf career as one of the best ever

3A state girls golf 2018 Hailey Schalk

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

Hailey Schalk barely had time to scoop the ball out of the cup on the 36th hole of the 2017 Class 3A girls state golf tournament before sky-high expectations were being placed on her by observers.

This freshman girl who couldn't even drive herself to the golf course was going to become the first golfer in Colorado history to sweep her way through every season and claim four state titles, they said, and become of one the best high school golfers in state history, if not theĀ best ever.

It was a lot of pressure to heap on a young athlete.

Contrary to the instant-reaction world of 2020, the reality is that greatness takes time to rear its head regardless if it's golf, basketball or any other sport.

Especially if the topic at hand is now a high school senior on the verge of continuing her golf career at the University of Colorado.

To be fair, however, when Schalk won her first title, she did it in convincing fashion at the Broadlands in Broomfield. She shot a 6-under-par-65 on the first day which at the time was her career best. The championship was the end of a season in which she had felt herself gaining momentum well before the start of the state tournament.

"I had been playing really good golf my freshman year," she said. "I was really confident going into that state championship. There were really good girls there like Charlotte Hillary (Kent Denver) and Caroline and Marie Jordaan (Colorado Academy). They were really good competition of mine for many years."

3A girls state golf

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

The proved to be the case the next year when Caroline Jordaan held the Day 1 lead at Elmwood in Pueblo. Schalk rallied to shoot a 67 in the final round to win title No. 2. She claimed her third title at a one-day state tournament at Pelican Lakes. Although she made winning state look easy, she was well aware of each challenge that each tournament provided.

"I don't know if it felt easier," Schalk said. "Going into that second state championship, there was an article saying I was going to win all four. There's always pressure and that can get the best of you."

Her shot at an historic fourth title was derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it's far from the end of her golf journey. Schalk will stay close to home and play golf at the University of Colorado.

And looking beyond that, she has a recent example of just how great girls golfers from her area have the potential to be.

Like many others, she's paid attention to the heights that Jefferson Academy alum Jennifer Kupcho has soared. A win at the Augusta National Women's Am and an NCAA title are certainly benchmarks that Schalk can now shoot for.

It helps that from comparisons of their respective high school games, Schalk sees some similarities in how she and Kupcho have both played at that level.

"Exactly what Jennifer said (earlier this month), my short game has never been the best part of my game," Schalk said. "Driving the golf ball and striking the ball has always been the best part. That's given me an advantage the last four years. Anytime I can get on the green on a par 5 in two, it was always better than me trying to hit wedge in there."

Schalk leaves Holy Family with the designation that there was never a state golf tournament that she played in and didn't win. She handled the pressure of people claiming early in her career that she would win four and is now ready to tackle the game at the collegiate level.

So those reactions to her win freshman year came to fruition: Schalk did become one of the best at this level, if not theĀ best ever.

She will continue remain focused on the task in front her, the very approach that allowed her to have arguably the greatest high school golf career in state history.

But her overall career path has yet to hit its apex. If the flight of that trajectory continues to rocket like a well-struck tee shot, her story is just beginning.

(Jon E. Yunt/CHSAANow.com)