Kirk Rawles drives his cart around the golf course, constantly coaching and checking up on his Durango High School golfers.When the first-year head coach finds Arthur Kunkel on the golf course, he smiles and waves wildly at the DHS senior. Kunkel, given the "Mr. Happy" handle from Rawles, returns the favor with a super-sized smile and a crazy wave.
Then the two share a laugh.
"We've had a pretty good rapport with that," Rawles said.
Kunkel is a happy guy, and right now the golf gods are smiling back.
Kunkel shot a career best 1-over par 73 to help the Durango Demons to their second first-place finish this season. He tied for second overall with Montezuma-Cortez's Chris Aiken, both golfers four strokes back of Green Mountain medalist Cameron Brown.
Durango defeated Montezuma-Cortez by two strokes, 225 to 227 on Wednesday at Devil's Thumb in Delta.
"That score would've been even lower if we could've used a couple of our JV guys," Rawles said. "We would've shot a 221 if we could've used Morgan Miller's ball."
Miller, who played for the Demons' junior varsity Wednesday, also shot a 73.
"All the teams come to Delta for this one, at least on the Western Slope," Rawles said.
Durango finished first, and its JV team, had it figured into the varsity scoring, would've placed seventh among the 22 teams in competition.
Ted Olson shot a 75 for the Demons, and their final scorer was Devon Pierce with a 77. Nic Ochsner shot an 82, and Chad McClanahan shot an 83.
For the JV, Michael Thomas shot an 81, Cody Civiletto an 86 and Reed Francis an 88.
"Our five varsity guys, and this includes the JV, too, I keep telling them they can all break 80 on the same day," Rawles said. "That's a tough one to get done on the same day.
"What's great, though, is they're gelling as a team. We're not relying on just one guy to bring in a score. They've all broken 80 this year.
"(Wednesday) was Arthur's day, but (today) could just as well be Chad and Nic's day," Rawles said.
DHS will play Cobble Creek today in Montrose.
"I'm really proud of these guys. They haven't finished worst than third place all year, and finishing first in such a big field, that's a huge boost," said Rawles, who credited his coaching staff of Jim Fiala and Kermit Barrett for this year's success.
"It's all coming together in a positive way, and a lot of that comes from the knowledge of my coaching staff."
Kunkel, for his part, has been the Demons' most consistent golfer all season long.
"From the start of the year, he's progressively gotten better," Rawles said. "He's developed the consistency we're going to need to have the next couple of weeks.
"One of his best assets on the course is his positive attitude ... just relax, and play your game."