National Champ

A year after losing in playoff at First Tee National Championship, Denver’s Hunter Swanson captures title

By Gary Baines – 7/1/2022

Last year, Denver resident Hunter Swanson came ever so close to claiming the boys title in the inaugural First Tee National Championship, losing in a playoff.

On Friday at the 2022 edition of the same event, Swanson left nothing to chance as the representative of The First Tee of Green Valley Ranch won the championship by three strokes in the 23-player boys field at the University of Notre Dame’s Warren Course in South Bend, Ind.

“Last year definitely wasn’t the happiest moment, but I was proud of myself for at least playing well,” Swanson said in a release. “Today, to come back and actually get the win this time, feels a lot more special. Kind of like I finished what I started. It’s an honor, truly. I wouldn’t be where I’m at without The First Tee.”

Hunter Swanson of Denver and Hannah Lydic of Delaware after winning the boys and girls title, respectively, on Friday in South Bend, Ind.

Swanson, who will begin his college career at the University of Colorado starting in the fall, posted scores of 70-72-70 for a 1-under-par 212 total. A two-time Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado Boys Player of the Year, Swanson finished three ahead of runner-up Bryson Hughes of The First Tee of North Florida.

Kyle Leydon of Commerce City, also from The First Tee of GVR, tied for seventh place at 225 (71-78-76).

Swanson, a member of The First Tee of GVR since 2010, played his final 13 holes in 3 under par on Friday. Overall for the event, he carded nine birdies and eight bogeys.

Swanson, a graduate of Northfield High School, also is a member of the Hale Irwin Player Program at CommonGround Golf Course. 

The First Tee National Championship features separate boys and girls events, with the participants selected based on their golf skills and competitive golf experience. 

The victory normally earns the winner a spot in the PURE Insurance Championship Impacting First Tee, a PGA Tour Champions event that this year will be held Sept. 23-25 at Pebble Beach Golf Links. But since The First Tee only allows one-time participation in the event — and Swanson finished fifth in the pro-junior portion of the tournament last year — he won’t return this fall.

For all the scores from The First Tee National Championship, CLICK HERE.

About the Writer: Gary Baines has covered golf in Colorado continuously since 1983. He was a sports writer at the Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder, then the sports editor there, and has written regularly for since 2009. He was voted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2021. Email: