Park City’s Aiden Taylor provides valuable leadership, experience
The senior led the Miners with a 76 on Thursday
After a disappointing day for Park City’s boys golf team on their home course on Thursday, captain Aiden Taylor hung around Park City Golf Club. Taylor was firing putts on the practice green, getting some extra reps and working on his game.
Taylor’s dedicated himself to the sport, and it’s paid off for him this year. The senior and freshman Rawson Hardy have been Park City’s best players this season, and his breakthrough came after an offseason of relentless work.
“That’s kind of a team leader you want,” Park City coach George Murphy said. “End of the year last year, we had a good chat and talked about him taking that leadership role from what Will Agnew had last year. Rally the kids and get out and play and put tournaments together, and he’s done that. He’s been a great team captain this year, and look for him to lead next week with two tournaments.”
The Miners were in second place in the region standings and were looking to put some distance between themselves and the two teams behind them heading into Thursday’s tournament at their home course. Instead, the Miners finished fourth.
Taylor led the way with a 76, and Hardy was right behind him at 77. But those two were the only ones on the team with a score under 80. Throw in the fact that it was at Park City’s home course, and it was a discouraging day.
“We were second place going into this tournament in region, and now we’re probably fourth, so we lost a few spots,” Murphy said. “We were looking to play a little better. You want to keep your home course advantage when you’re playing a course these kids know really well and play a lot. But it’s not over. We’ve got two tournaments next week to get ourselves back in position.”
Taylor wasn’t satisfied with his performance on Thursday. Far from it. He had his moments, like a chip-in for a birdie or sinking a difficult putt on the 12th hole for another birdie, but he knows he’s capable of more.
“I was hitting the ball well, just scoring wasn’t going well,” Taylor said. “(Double bogey on) two holes out there, which killed me. But I hit the ball pretty well. Need to make some improvements putting.
“When I knew I shot 76 out there on 18, I finished up, I was hoping that my score wouldn’t even be taken. I don’t know, finishing first on the team is always a good thing, but not when you don’t play too well.”
Taylor’s family has plenty of history with golf. Taylor’s father played golf, and Taylor’s brother, Charlie, played for Park City before moving on to golf for Sonoma State.
“My dad was always into golf – he played,” Taylor said. “He just taught me from a really young age. My brother played, so there was always that competitiveness between him and I, so that always kept me going.”
Taylor is hoping to help bring the Miners back to the state tournament after Park City missed out last year and play golf in college. However, neither would come to fruition if he didn’t focus more on golf.
And with that came sacrifice. While his classmates were hitting the ski slopes, he was working on his golf game.
“He told me he didn’t even ski this year,” Murphy said. “It was a bad year for snow, but this is what he wants to do. He wants to play collegiate golf, too, and he wants to lead these guys. He’s determined, and it’s fun to watch kind of the way they grow up and take on that role.”
In the past, Taylor would also play basketball, but he gave that up as well. Instead, he and a few teammates would brave the trip through Parleys Canyon in the middle of winter to practice in Salt Lake City.
“I went down to Salt Lake and played in the freezing cold and snow basically,” Taylor said. “It was good to play because in the years past, I’d play basketball and I’d kind of lose my golf game a bit. I wouldn’t play for a while, so I’d lose it. But this year, it’s felt like I’ve just kept it going and made a step up in my play.”
But those sacrifices were worth it for Taylor, who’s seen his scores improve significantly this year. Whether it was playing as much as possible, participating in tournaments or taking a couple of lessons, it was all worth it.
“It definitely feels good,” Taylor said. “Because I’ve never really scored well in tournaments before this year. I’ve had a couple of good tournaments, but this year, a lot more consistent playing well. So, I know it’s paying off.”
Taylor is one of just three seniors on Park City’s roster, and the Miners didn’t return much experience from last year. He’s helped make the underclassmen feel at home on the team.
“As the only one that’s ever been on the team more than three years, he’s kind of helped guide us through,” sophomore Sam Hunt said. “A bunch of these kids have never played in tournaments before. So, he’s kind of been there to lead us and show us the way.”
Hunt and Taylor have gotten to know each other in the last two years and have become good friends. Hunt recalled how they met at tryouts Hunt’s freshman year, and Taylor made him feel more comfortable.
“I was a freshman, so I didn’t know anyone,” Hunt said. “I got paired with Aiden, and he was the one that always talked to me and kind of got me chatting. That really stuck with me, and now I think that’s the reason we’ve been such good friends ever since.”
With some cooler temperatures in the morning and some intermittent high winds, scores were fairly high across the board on Thursday. Taylor’s 76 was a solid score compared to his competition. However, he knows he’s capable of more on a course that he estimates he’s played on 100 times.
“He wants it bad and he’s disappointed, too,” Murphy said. “He’s disappointed in a 76, which was a great score today. And that just shows you, too, how much it means to him and all these guys. But for him especially as a team leader.”
With the state tournament just around the corner, Taylor aims to do everything he can to help the Miners make it with both his play and leadership.
“I’ve never played in the state tournament,” Taylor said. “I’ve been on teams that have, but I’ve never played personally in the state tournament. So, it would mean everything to go play in it and intend to win it.”
The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation held their World Cup event at Park City this week. Using the track at the Utah Olympic Park. | David Jackson/Park Record
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