Maier knows the routine well. As a junior, he's in his third season with the Cowboys' linksters. Dealing with things like traveling to Palm Desert, Calif., site of the University of Wyoming's “home” golf tournament, are becoming old hat. …
Maier, Boutelle enjoying solid year for CowboysAlthough their home course currently slumbers under a few inches of freshly fallen snow, Cody natives Gabe Maier and Clinton Boutelle are still very much “in season.” The tandem of University of Wyoming golfers were back home for the holidays and enjoying some down time in the middle of the 2009-2010 season.“It gets pretty crazy,” Maier said of the collegiate golf calendar. “We go to five or six tournaments each semester. Each tournament means you're gone for two or three days. You miss a lot of school.”
Maier knows the routine well. As a junior, he's in his third season with the Cowboys' linksters. Dealing with things like traveling to Palm Desert, Calif., site of the University of Wyoming's “home” golf tournament, are becoming old hat. Boutelle, a redshirt freshman on this year's team, is experiencing them for the first time.
“It was different,” Boutelle said of the fall semester. “The team was on the road for, I think, six weeks.”
Both golfers have been an indispensable part of the Wyoming golf roster through the first half of the 2009-2010 golf season. Both currently rank in the top-25 of the Mountain West Conference for 18-hole stroke average.
Boutelle recorded his first collegiate top-10 finish earlier this fall after tying for 10th place at Wyoming's invitational tournament in California. Maier captured first-place honors that same weekend, carding the second-best tournament performance in UW golf history when he finished with a score of 6-under-par for the 54-hole event.
Maier currently ranks fourth in the Mountain West conference with an average score of 71.27 per round played. On the national Golfstat Cup rankings, he is currently 55th nationally, having peaked at 47th on that chart earlier this fall.
“There's a bunch of different ranking websites,” Maier notes. “That's the one that I'm the highest in right now.”
Both Maier and Boutelle took similar paths to the collegiate game. Each picked up the sport around the age of 10 and played throughout the rest of their school years. Maier was a three-time all-state selection. He placed third at the Wyoming state high school championships in both his junior and senior seasons. Boutelle, who admits he “didn't take golf seriously until the eighth grade,” earned state championship honors in Class 3A as a senior in 2007 to cap a two-time all-state career.
Maier chose UW after receiving an offer from the Cowboys. Boutelle opted for Laramie over offers from Colorado and Arizona because the school was closer to home and the coaching staff “made it feel more like a family.”
Both are quick to admit the step from high school up to Division I collegiate golf was an eye-opening experience.
“Competing in Wyoming, you're a bit sheltered in terms of the number of kids that want to be good,” said Maier. “When you get to college, you find there's thousands and thousands of people that want to be just as good or better than you. I was fortunate in some ways because my senior year in Wyoming, my class was ridiculously good. I think four guys went on to play Division I.”
Boutelle, by contrast, ran away with the competition his senior season. His first season making the rounds to collegiate tournaments has been an eye-opener.
“It has been a neat experience,” said Boutelle. “You hear about kids that do well at the national level and get to watch them and see what they're doing and how they're doing it.”
Based on those observations, as well as his own personal experience, Boutelle has some simple advice for aspiring high school golfers.
“Whatever you think working hard is — work harder,” Boutelle said. “The work ethic of golfers in the region seems to have dropped. You have to be working on your game all the time.”
“And don't get complacent,” adds Maier. “Take a look at everyone, not just the golfers in Wyoming. You might be winning a tournament here with a round of 76, but if you look at what kids your age are doing in other states, they're not winning tournaments with scores in the mid-70s. They're winning by shooting scores like 65 or 66.”
Maier and Boutelle will spend the next three months taking that advice to heart. Despite the winter conditions outside, the pair will log numerous hours hitting balls at indoor ranges and practicing on golf simulators, such as the one at Cody's Olive Glenn Country Club.
“The thing that really sets both of them apart is their work ethic and desire,” said Olive Glenn course professional Dave Snyder. “When they were in high school, they were the first ones up in the morning and they were the last ones to leave every day. They've both shown a tremendous commitment to the sport.”
“The weather can make (practicing) challenging,” Boutelle said of Wyoming's winters. “There's enough places around the school though that you're able to keep your game up, but it is a little different than if we were in a southern state where you can play year-round. We've always received awesome support from the members here. We're extremely fortunate in that regard.”
That level of commitment should help when the Cowboys' golf season resumes in March. The team will travel to tournaments in Missouri, Utah, Arizona and California in preparation for the Mountain West Conference champio nships in Tuscon, Ariz., April 29-May 1.
It may also lead one or both of the Cody golfers to the elusive dream of some day playing on the PGA Tour.