Wes Erling of Colorado Springs, a past winner of the JGAC Tour Championship and qualifier for the 2021 U.S. Junior Amateur, signs with CU golf team; fellow Coloradan Grant Samuelson headed to the Air Force Academy and Reese Knox to Boise State
By Gary Baines – 2/8/2023
A couple more prominent Colorado junior golfers will be staying close to home to play in college.
The University of Colorado announced on Wednesday that Wes Erling of Colorado Springs, the 2020 Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado Tour Championship winner, has signed a letter of intent with the Buffs and will be a freshman on the golf team starting in the fall.
(Updated Feb. 13) And on Feb. 13, Grant Samuelson of Fort Collins and Fossil Ridge High School received his appointment to the Air Force Academy, where he’ll be playing NCAA Division I golf. Samuelson was part of the Fossil Ridge squad that won the 5A state high school team title in the fall. He went to the quarterfinals of the 2022 CGA State Junior and of the 2021 Colorado Junior Match Play.
Erling, who was part of the CGA’s Hale Irwin Player Program at CommonGround Golf Course in 2020-21 even though he lives in Colorado Springs, joins California (CIF) state champion Brandon Knight of Pleasanton and Tyler Holbrook of Granbury, Texas as incoming CU players.
“Wes is one of the top players in Colorado in the class of 2023,” CU coach Roy Edwards said in a release. “We have had an eye on him for quite a while as he is a player with tremendous potential as a golfer, student and teammate here at CU. He is a tremendous addition to our roster and look forward to having him join us next fall.”
Erling has been one of the best junior golfers in Colorado for several years. He qualified for — and competed in — the 2021 U.S. Junior Amateur. The last three years at the Class 5A state high school golf tournament — while competing for Pine Creek — he’s finished fourth, second in a playoff, and fourth. In late November, Erling placed fifth out of a field of 63 at the Gobbler Amateur, one of a series of tournaments run by Edwards.
Another Coloradan who recently committed to play NCAA Division I golf was Reese Knox of Peyton and Falcon High School, who is headed to Boise State. Knox placed sixth in the 4A state high school meet last fall after being second in 2021.
(Updated April 12) In addition, Noelle Thompson of Erie has signed to play her college golf at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Calif., an NAIA program. And Carter Hinkle of Windsor is headed to Hastings College in Nebraska, also in the NAIA ranks.
Erling and Samuelson join several other Colorado junior golfers, Class of 2023, who will be playing college golf not far from home. Here’s the previously announced rundown, along with other Colorado letter-of-intent signees, and out-of-state commitments for Colorado-based college programs — besides the aforementioned. (Information on others who should be added to this list can be sent to ColoradoGolfJournal@Mac.com):
— Kaitlin Zingler of Lakewood and Mullen High School — University of Denver (NCAA Div. I): Last fall, Zingler was named one of the winners of the CGA’s Grace Burke Award, given to female high school golfers who exhibit character, leadership and personal integrity through their actions in competing and participating in various golf programs. Zingler was a semifinalist in the 2022 CGA State Junior Championship and placed ninth in the 4A state high school tournament.
— Reece Bandemer of Loveland and Loveland HS — University of Northern Colorado (NCAA Div. I): The Loveland High School golfer finished sixth among the girls at the Colorado Junior PGA Championship last year. She helped the Red Wolves win the 5A state high school team title in 2021.
— Noah Wagner of Pueblo West and Pueblo West HS — University of Wyoming (NCAA Div. I): Wagner, who finished eighth individually in the 4A state high school tournament last fall for Pueblo West, qualified for the U.S. Junior Amateur in 2022. He’s also played for the Pueblo West basketball team.
— Thayer Plewe of Cortez and Montezuma-Cortez HS — University of New Mexico (NCAA Div. I): Plewe, a senior at Montezuma-Cortez, won’t begin playing for UNM until 2025 as he plans to go on a two-year mission in Portugal for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the meantime. He won the 3A state high school individual title last year by five strokes following a final-round 64 in which he played his last five holes in 5 under par. This after being runner-up at state as both a sophomore and a junior. In June, Thayer won a Junior PGA national qualifying tournament at UNM’s Championship Course.
— Kyle Leydon of Commerce City and Brighton HS — Creighton University, Neb. (NCAA Div. I): Leydon won the 2022 Colorado PGA Junior Invitational — a junior major in the state — and finished first on the CPGA’s boys junior points list last year. He also was named one of the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame’s Future Famers for 2022. Leydon, a member of the First Tee of Green Valley Ranch, tied for seventh place in the 2022 First Tee National Championship. He ended up eighth individually in last year’s 5A state high school tournament. Leydon, who was a member of the Hale Irwin Player Program at CommonGround Golf Course, represented Colorado on its four-player Junior America’s Cup team. He finished 15th in his age group against a very strong field last fall at the Notah Begay III Junior Golf National Championship.
— Luke Cushman of Castle Rock and Castle View HS — Boise State, Idaho (NCAA Div. I): Cushman qualified for the U.S. Junior Amateur last year and advanced to the final qualifying stage of the U.S. Open. He placed 14th individually in the 5A state high school tournament in the fall. In 2021, he was runner-up among the boys at the AJGA Colorado Springs Junior by Centura Health.
— Maryn Harlow of Loveland and Loveland HS — Missouri Southern (NCAA Div. II): She was on Loveland’s 5A state high school champion team in 2021.
Here are the out-of-state golfers who have committed or signed with Colorado-based programs — in addition to Knight and Holbrook:
Colorado State University Men
— Derek Lekkerkerk of Twin Falls, Idaho
— Jake Rodgers of Mulino, Ore.
Colorado State University Women
— 2-time Hawaii women’s state amateur champ Kara Kaneshiro of Honolulu, Hawaii
University of Colorado Women
— Carolyn Fuller of Phoenix
— Vanessa Ngo of Mission Viejo, Calif.
University of Denver Men
— Zander Grant of Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.
University of Denver Women
— Brooke McGlasson of Peoria, Ariz.
— Anna Neumayer, Austria
— Haven Ward of Atlanta
University of Northern Colorado Men
— Pietro Boeris of Pinerolo, Italy
Fort Lewis College
— Sarah Grenemyer of Albuquerque, N.M.
— Sabrina Ladd of Coronado, Calif.
About the Author: Gary Baines owns and operates ColoradoGolfJournal.com