Cherokee Trail senior Beam Boonta felt fortunate that he got to play his final season with the boys golf team before the coronavirus arrived, which cut short the freshman season of his sister. Boonta also signed his National Letter of Intent with the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology just before the pandemic reached full force. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

SENIOR SERIES: A profile look at triumphs and struggles experienced by some Aurora senior prep athletes in the time of the coronavirus pandemic:

Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports

Beam Boonta’s golf game has lately been limited to short putting and chipping thanks to the coronavirus, as well as a garage with a low ceiling.

The pandemic has disrupted much in everybody’s life, including the Cherokee Trail boys golf standout’s once finely-tuned swing, the very one that helped him make the Class 5A state tournament in three of his four seasons on varsity.

“I can only chip in my garage because my full swings hit the top of the roof,” Boonta told the Sentinel. “I’ve just got a punching bag and a 9-foot putting green, so that’s what I’ve been using. …Usually, unless it’s winter, I’m always touching a club.”

Boonta’s game was in pretty good shape in the fall, when he earned a spot on the All-Centennial League first team during the regular season — quite a distinction in one of the state’s best leagues — and finished in a tie for 20th at the state tournament. Boonta finished with a two-day total of plus-13 153 at Denver’s challenging Pinehurst Country Club.

Beam Boonta earned his way into the Class 5A boys state golf tournament three times in four varsity seasons, topped by a sixth-place finish as a sophomore. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

Had a few more putts fallen, Boonta might have finished in the top 15 for the third time in as many opportunities in state tournament play.

Boonta’s best showing came as a sophomore when he finished in a five-way tie for sixth place when the 5A state tournament was played at CommonGround G.C., while he tied for 15th as a junior when the tournament took place at Colorado Springs Country Club. He earned his way onto the Sentinel’s All-Aurora Boys Golf Team in all three seasons he made state.

Boonta’s golf career will continue in college, as he signed with South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in February after making a decision he believes was serendipitous for several reasons.

First of all, he has a couple of friends already at the school in Rapid City, South Dakota, that he met through play in events in the Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado (JGAC). Secondly, weather made it impossible for him to take a scheduled visit to another school in North Dakota.

“The day I was supposed to go to North Dakota, there was a big storm and the roads were blocked, so I didn’t even get to go,” Boonta said. “My family is a little superstitious, so we thought that might be a sign I’m not supposed to go there.”

Boonta believes SD Mines is a great place for him because of its academic focus on mechanical engineering, which he’s eager to study — as someone who is “always getting my hands dirty and building stuff” — but he mostly can’t wait for the college golf experience.

Beam Boonta signed to play golf with the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, which is in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference along with several Colorado schools. (Photo courtesy Beam Boonta)

“I’ve been waiting to be able to play college golf; it’s not going to be like the junior tournaments. I’m pretty excited to be able to walk 36 holes in one day, getting to be with a team and travel around to play,” said Boonta, whose team should play several Colorado schools (Colorado School of Mines, Colorado State-Pueblo, Colorado Mesa, Western State, Adams State and Fort Lewis) as a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.

Boonta was glad to get to play his final high school season, but the arrival of the coronavirus disappointed him for the fact that his sister, Bead, a promising freshman, got to play just one tournament of her first season for Cherokee Trail.

Bead Boonta shot a plus-7 72 at Springhill Golf Course on March 11 — the day before the spring sports season was suspended by the Colorado High School Activities Association, which later canceled the entire season due to the pandemic — in the lone Centennial League gathering of the season to finish eighth in a loaded field. She came in four strokes ahead of her next-closest teammate.

“My sister did very well in her first tournament,” Boonta said. “Her coach put her in as the No. 4 player at first, but she stayed humble and thought ‘OK, I’ll just work my way up.’ I had to give her a pep talk, but she went out and she played very well. It’s too bad she only got one tournament.”

As a senior, Boonta didn’t personally miss the fact that Cherokee Trail’s prom was canceled — “proms and dances aren’t really my thing,” he said — but he had looked forward to the final days of school when he used to watch seniors leave school several days before the jealous underclassmen.

The summer is what Boonta is keeping his eye on next, as several JGAC tournaments have already been canceled, though not all of them, yet.


MORE: Graham Ike eager to get a look at his new home in ‘Laradise’

MORE: Pandemic can’t put Luke Flay’s hockey career on ice

MORE: Isolation takes getting used to for Katie Berrian

MORE: Tony Castonguay finds his baseball heaven in Kansas

MORE: Dreams keep getting bigger, better for Beneyam Yifru

MORE: Dakota Makinen happily headed to caddy’s shack

MORE: Jackson Connelly sadly settles for second

MORE: Minus another title, Obi Agbim finds new hoops home

MORE: Signing Day didn’t go as expected for Salem Scobee