COLORADO SPRINGS — Hunter Swanson's approach shot on the seventh hole of the Country Club of Colorado was everything that a player wants.
The flight looked good, the distance felt good and when the smacked the green just a few inches from the pin it hopped just once then stayed put. The spin was enough to make sure the ball didn't release to the back side of the green but not enough to pull it right off the putting surface.
It was the kind of shot that Swanson hit several times last fall that helped Swanson finish for a tie in second place at the Class 4A boys golf state tournament at The Bridges in Montrose.
"There was no beating Micah (Stangebye) that tournament," Swanson said. "I was playing for second."
That's where he finished and he's aiming to better that result the next chance he gets. Heading into just his junior year, he'll have plenty of chances to play high-level golf under the Northfield banner.
He was certainly moving that direction at the Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado's first major of its summer tour season, the PGA Championship at the Country Club of Colorado. He made his kick-in birdie on seven and then made another on No. 9 to make the turn at 2-under for the third and final round.
Prospect Ridge graduate Walker Franklin's lead was too much to overcome, however, and Swanson finished tied for sixth along with Arapahoe's Will Kates, the defending 5A champion. Playing alongside Kates and Holy Family grad Jacob Mason is the kind of competition that Swanson knows will help him when he gets another crack at state.
"When I'm playing with skilled people in my groups like today, it makes you play a lot better and it makes you more motivated," Swanson said. "You don't mess as much. When they're throwing darts at the green, it's not an option to miss."
Swanson couldn't help but take the opportunity to pick Kates' mind a bit about winning a state title. It's on a list of several goals that Swanson hopes to accomplish in the next two years.
"I talked with Will a bit about his state championship," Swanson said. "He really liked it and he said it was a fun experience. I can definitely learn from that going into state next year."
Until that opportunity comes around, he's going to play as much golf as he can. Before playing this week at CCC — where even the best putters in the state can lose a sense of sanity on the greens — he won a tour event the week before at King's Deer just east of Monument.
He held off Discovery Canyon's Kaden Ford by a stroke. Swanson and Ford were the two players to tie for second at state last year.
If the result at King's Deer is any indication, the battle between Ford and Swanson throughout the year should be one of the better matchups throughout the state regardless of sport.