Down to the final putt

Robert Galbreath photo Pinedale senior Mitchell Pape tees off at the Pinedale Golf Tournament on Aug. 20. Pape took home the first-place prize at the home meet.

Senior Mitchell Pape named to All-State in golf

Conditions for golf were

less than ideal at the Star Valley View Golf

Course on Sept. 20 as Pinedale senior Mitchell

Pape prepared to tee off on the last hole.

The top 3A high school golfers gathered in

Afton that weekend to compete for the state

championship. But they also had to battle the

elements.

Temperatures hovered in the 40s, just warm

enough to pelt the athletes with freezing rain.

Pape tried using an umbrella at first, but it

kept blowing away in the wind. A hailstorm

erupted as Pape played the back nine on the

second day. Growing up in Pinedale, Pape is

familiar with poor weather conditions and has

even golfed in snow.

“I’m used to playing in crappy weather,” he

said. “The Pinedale golf season is so short. It

gives me a mental edge over other competitors.”

Pape felt the pressure of competition as he

rounded the bottom nine holes.

“I was nervous going into State,” he said.

“Conference (the week before) was my worst

performance all year. I was not sure what to

expect.”

Pape finished the first day in 11th place, and

as he reached the end of competition on day

two, he was a few points away from breaking

into the top-10 finishers.

“I knew every shot would count,” he said.

“Coach (Luke Myszewski) said I needed to get

par on the last hole to make the top 10.”

Parents, competitors, teammates and

coaches gathered under the gray skies to watch

Pape and his competitors play. Pape mentally

prepared himself.

“I turned my nerves into excitement,” he

said. “I thought, ‘Yeah – I’m ready to go out

there and play golf.’ At the last tee-shot, I sat

back and said to myself, ‘This is my last teeshot

as a high schooler.’”

Pape’s tee-shot was “great,” he said. The

second stroke ended “just short of the green.”

His third stroke nearly chipped into the hole,

but landed 4 feet away. Pape steadied himself,

and sunk the ball in on the 4-foot putt. He saw

Luke Myszewski Photo

Pinedale senior Mitchell Pape, second from left, with the top-10 finishers at the Wyoming High School 3A State Golf Tournament in Afton. Pape tied for 10th and

secured his spot on the All-State roster on Sept. 20.

Robert Galbreath photo

Pinedale senior Mitchell Pape tees off at the Pinedale Golf Tournament on Aug.

20. Pape took home the first-place prize at the home meet.

his teammates smiling on the sidelines, but

didn’t realize he had tied for 10th place until

Coach Myszewski showed him the final leaderboard.

“I ended up making par, and that’s what I

needed,” he added.

Pape’s spot in the top 10 landed him on the

All-State roster, the first time a golfer from Pinedale

has done so since 2016.

“I was extremely happy,” he said. “I worked

really hard for this and it finally paid off.”

Practice, practice, practice

Pape started golf a “lot later” than some

of his teammates. It wasn’t until his seventh-

grade year that Pape decided to give the

sport a try. He found that he enjoyed it and

joined the high school golf team.

As his skills improved, Pape buckled down

during his junior and senior year, determined

to excel at the sport. Catching up with his

competition involved a lot of work. During the

few months when Rendezvous Meadows Golf

Course was clear of snow, Pape spent four to

six hours a day practicing.

“I’d have to cram in a lot of hours during

the short golf season,” he said. “I’d go to the

course after work for a few hours, and during

the weekend, I’d really go at it with six hours

of practice.”

Pape received a few lessons with a professional

coach in St. George, Utah, but for the

most part, his golf skills are self-taught.

“I’d find something that worked and stick

with it,” he said. “Your swing doesn’t have to

look perfect. What matters is where the ball

goes.”

The tee-off is usually the most dramatic

part of the game from a photographer’s point

of view. Not for golfers, however. Pape said

it’s the “short game,” the putting and chipping

at the end that has the most impact on a

golfers’ score. Pape devoted “80 percent” of

his practice time to improving his putting and

chipping skills.

Golfers practice long hours. During a tournament,

they are out on the green for the better

part of a day. Staying physically fit is important,

but golfers also have to learn mental endurance.

A lot of this has to do with moving

on after a bad shot.

“You can’t get emotionally worked up

over one shot,” Pape said. “You’ll hit in good

shots and bad shots. The key is to learn from

the bad shot and move on to the next one.

Three bad shots and one great shot can still

get you par.”

Pape added that he looks up to Pinedale

alumnus Jordan Costello, another golfer who

“came from this small town with a small

course and a big offseason and went on to do

great things.” His favorite professional golfer

is Rory McIlroy from Northern Ireland.

Pape explained that a lot of his success

came from all of the support he got from his

family and coaches over the year.

When he isn’t out on the links, Pape stays

busy in the winter competing for the Wrangler

alpine ski team. After practicing and

doing homework, Pape said he enjoys “hanging

out with friends” during his off time.

Pape’s favorite classes at Pinedale High

School are physical education and math. He

is considering using his math talents to pursue

a career in mechanical engineering. Pape

is also interested in continuing with his golf

career at the college level.

The brief fall golf season in Wyoming

came to an end two weeks ago as autumn

weather roared down on the course at Afton.

“This was my last state golf event and it’s

sad,” Pape said. “All the memories over the

years and everything I worked for. It’s an end

of a chapter in my life.”

As Pape prepares to move into the next

chapter, his advice to underclassman on the

golf team is this – avoid all the sand traps.

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