PUEBLO — At first glance the Manitou Mustang Invite looked like any other boys golf tournament for St. Mary's senior Luke Calvin. He navigated his way around the course fairly efficiently.
He hit good shots and he hit some bad shots. Such is golf.
But inside, he was going through an emotional battle. When he stepped on the the tee box for the first shot of the tournament, it was his first competition since his mother passed away from her battle with cancer.
He and the other competitors in the field pinned green and white ribbons to their hats during the round. The other teams in the field might have been battling against the Pirates, but they were more than happy to stand with a colleague and show support.
"It keeps things in perspective," Primero's Lance Peters said. "There's no way to know how he feels and it has to be tough to do that."
In some ways, it's admirable that Calvin chose to play. There would have been no shame for him to sit out and gather himself before coming back to the team and helping the Pirates make a run at the Tri-Peaks League championship.
But Calvin loves golf. And his mother knew it. While his decision was admittedly tough, he nas no doubt he made right one.
"I know my mom would've wanted me to play," he said. "So I toughed it out and got out here today."
He didn't just tough it out. He put together a top three finish. He shot a nine-over-par 79 to finish third and as just one of three players in the field to stay under 80. Peters got the tournament win with a 76 and Calvin's teammate Peter Stinar shot a 78.
The best part of Calvin's game was navigating the slippery greens at the Pueblo Country Club. While many players were left confused or frustrated, Calvin had this tendency to put the ball in the cup or at least keep it within gimme range.
"My chipping and putting wasn't so bad," Calvin said. "I'm pretty sure my mom willed in a few putts for me to make sure I broke 80."
The Pirates claimed the team championship at the event thanks to Stinar and Calvin staying under 80 and RJ Davis shooting 81.
But more than his team getting a win, Calvin will remember seeing opposing players and opposing coaches pin a ribbon onto their hats and know that it was a sign of support directed at him.
"It was huge," Calvin said. "It had me in tears this morning to see the support from everybody. Everybody that loved my mom and everybody in this community that just through golf that has always supported me. And it's huge to see it from people who didn't know my mom and just wanted to support me."
As Peter alluded to, it's also something that has helped Calvin and everyone play with a different perspective than before. The goal is always to go out, compete and hopefully win. But during Monday's round they appreciated the opportunity to be able to do so and made sure to savor every minute.
"I definitely wanted to come out and play well because everybody was supporting me," Calvin said. "I didn't want to let anybody down, which I know I wouldn't have, but I wanted to show everybody a good round."
And that's what he did through the course of an emotional day. He smiled when he needed to, he maintained his focus and he always kept his mother on his mind. And in some key moments on some tricky greens, his putts willed their way into the hole.
Such is golf.