The Gazette Girls' Golf Peak Performer of year: Arielle Keating, Rampart

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Photo - Rampart's Arielle Keating drives on the par-4 first hole in Tuesday's final day of the 2017 Class 5A state girls' golf tourney at Golden at the Club at Rolling Hills.
COURTESY PHOTO
Rampart's Arielle Keating drives on the par-4 first hole in Tuesday's final day of the 2017 Class 5A state girls' golf tourney at Golden at the Club at Rolling Hills. COURTESY PHOTO

Arielle Keating needed to make up her mind.

A weekend at Augusta National helped steer the then-sophomore at Rampart toward the game of golf as a single pursuit.

"I wasn't completely devoted to golf, or any one sport, for a long time," Keating said earlier this week while vacationing with her family in Branson, Mo. "I participated in the Drive, Chip and Putt at the Masters last year. That was a lot of fun and I placed sixth in my age group. I thought to myself, 'Hey, I should continue with this golf thing.'"

So Keating stopped kicking the soccer ball and put away her volleyball gear to pour all her time and talent into one sport.

Had she continued soccer and club volleyball, Keating might not have shot under par in four consecutive tournaments during the recently completed regular season and won a third straight 5A Colorado Springs Metro League individual crown.

And she likely wouldn't have made the leap from 13th to sixth overall at the 5A state tournament and earned honors as The Gazette Girls' Golf Peak Performer.

"She practiced over the winter for the first time, and she took her game to a different level," said Brad Keating, her father, coach and PGA professional. "In the past, she would play her three months and be off to other sports. It became a battle of which sport was winning out. I think she made a good choice."

Arielle thinks so too. In addition to her experience at Augusta, her father played a major influence in her choice to pick golf over soccer and volleyball.

"With my dad being a club pro, he'd coach me when we were at the range," Arielle said. "It didn't feel like practice. It was just fun to go out with your parents. Because of my dad, I stuck with it. I think a lot of it depends on what you're parents do, and I'm really happy I chose golf."

She's so happy - and talented - that she verbally committed to Florida Atlantic University as a junior. The family is packing their bags for Boca Raton a year ahead of time to get a head start, so Arielle can enter college as an in-state student and play year round in sunny Florida.

She'll play for Kathy Baker-Guadagnino, a former NCAA national champion who later spent 20 years on the LPGA Tour, highlighted by a U.S. Women's Open victory in 1985.

For Keating, it's all about the big picture now that she's made up her mind.

"She's a strong coach, something my dad and I were looking for," Arielle said. "My dad has been coaching me since I was little. I love my dad, but it'll be nice to have a different voice. She has that experience of winning on tour, someone who can prep me for that. That's what I'm hoping to strive for."