Yes, Danny Taggart has tried Happy Gilmore’s golf shot and no, it doesn’t work.
Even though Adam Sandler’s classic 1996 comedy about a failed hockey player with a temper turned professional golfer came out a few years before he was born, Taggart is very familiar with the movie.
Gilmore’s hockey-style approach and running tee shot that produces massive distance is something that just can’t be duplicated, even by a standout in both.
“I’ve definitely tried to perfect it, but it’s not as easy as it looks on TV,” Taggart said with a smile. “It usually just goes into the ground, but when you square one up, it feels really good.”
Just a few months after qualifying for the Class 5A boys state golf tournament, the Grandview junior is currently squaring up pucks with regularity for the Cherry Creek co-op ice hockey team as a forward and defender.
Through eight games, Taggart leads the 8-0 Bruins in goals with 10 and assists with 11, totals that put him in the top five in the state in both categories as well as 22 total points.
Not bad for his debut season with the defending state champions, who the longtime club hockey player joined because he knew several players on the team and also some on others on the top-ranked squad at Monarch.
“I definitely didn’t think the season would be going this well, but my dad told me ‘if you are going to do something, do it 100 percent,’” Taggart said.
“Luckily, I’ve been putting pucks in the net and I have linemates who can do the same, so it’s been a really fun season…It’s been great playing for a team that won a state championship and national championship.”
As thrilled as Taggart is to be part of the Cherry Creek team, so head coach Jeff Mielnicki is to have him on the diverse roster that includes players from several other Aurora schools as well.
Mielnicki recalled playing in a men’s hockey league in the past with Taggart’s father, Bob — who he called a “monster” as a centerman — and had kept an eye on the youngest Taggart for a few years before he came out for the Cherry Creek team.
Taggart has been as good as Mielnicki expected and he’s served a variety of roles for the Bruins, seeing time in special situations on defense and also centering a line that includes another Aurora player (Rangeview’s Joe LoSasso) along with Cherry Creek’s Sam Harris.
The line has accounted for a total of 19 goals and 19 assists.
“He’s had success wherever he’s played; he’s a special hockey player and a great young man,” Mielnicki said.
“Whatever sport he plays, he attacks it at 100 percent and he’s a student of the game, that’s what makes him so good. He looks and film and sometimes it’s like having an assistant coach out there because he sees a lot of the things I’m seeing and does a great job communicating them to the younger players.”
When needed on defense, Taggart is happy to play alongside Grandview classmate Blake Hoffman and he’s also developed into a top threat on the face-off as well.
“Whatever Coach Mel wants,” Taggart said of his position. “I love playing both and whatever we need in that game, I’m there to do.”
Unlike Sandler’s Gilmore character — which only turned to golf as a way to make money — golf has been as near and dear to Taggart’s heart as hockey for quite some time.
Though he loves hockey and golf — plus baseball, which he’ll play in the spring for Grandview — Taggart considers himself more of a golfer.
He’s been spurred on by older brother, Bobby, who qualified for the 5A state tournament for Grandview in 2009 and went on to play in college. Bobby Taggart is currently an assistant professional at The Fox Club in Palm City, Florida.
“I grew up playing both sports, so I have a passion for both and it’s always fun to do both,” Danny Taggart said. “I consider myself more a golfer because now looking at it I would really like to pursue golf in the future…I definitely got into golf with my brother and how competitive we are trying to win everything.”
Taggart hopes to play in college and he is coming off a good season in the fall as one of the mainstays for coach Randy Smith’s Grandview boys golf team.
Taggart qualified for the 5A state tournament along with teammate Mason Jowsey — who interestingly enough is also a club hockey player but is not playing with a high school team — and shot rounds of 80 and 85 at the Fort Collins Country Club to tie for 66th in the 84-golfer field.
“It was fun playing in the league with guys like Davis Bryant (of Eaglecrest) who shoots under par every round and Ji (Woo Jang of Cherokee Trail) and it was great to get out and compete against the best at state,” he said.
“I’m hoping to do a little better individually and better with the team next year.”
It’s not surprising that sports play such a big role in Taggart’s life considering he belongs to an ultra-athletic family. In between he and brother Bobby are two sisters, both college athletes.
Older sister McKenzie is currently a senior forward on the women’s hockey team at Division III Stevenson University in Owings Mills, Md., while Whitney Taggart — who played forward for the Grandview girls soccer team — is currently a sophomore on the women’s team at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.
“My parents love traveling and watching everybody play, so it’s been fun,” Taggart said.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel