TOWN OF ERIN – The scores were important – they always are in high school golf – but what was impressive about the participants in the MACC Fund Invitational on Saturday was that they understood they were playing for something bigger than the numbers they wrote down on their scorecards.
The 36-team tournament, hosted by Hartland Arrowhead High School and played at Erin Hills, which donated its course for the day, raised in excess of $65,000 for the MACC Fund, bringing the event’s 14-year total to more than $830,000.
“This means the world to us,” said Becky Pinter, president and CEO of the MACC Fund, which funds research for childhood cancer and related blood disorders. “These high school kids, they put their heart and soul into it. To go out and fundraise as they do and to bring in the amount of money they do … they’re amazing.”
Grateful, too, especially after the 2020 boys’ season was canceled by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Once I heard there wasn’t going to be a season last year, I was a little bummed but I knew there’s always people suffering more than a 15-year-old kid losing a high school golf season,” said Alex Koenig, a sophomore at Kettle Moraine High School. “I’m grateful to be out here playing Erin Hills for the first time. It’s amazing. It’s tough. But it’s great to be supporting kids who aren’t able to be here.”
How’s that for perspective?
In addition to the MACC Fund Invitational being a vehicle for prep golfers to raise money through pledges and donations, it’s a great barometer of where the best players and teams stand early in this condensed season. Nine of the top 10 teams in WIAA Division 1 and two of the top three in Division 2 were in the field, which was loaded with some of Wisconsin’s top individual talent.
Mequon Homestead, ranked No. 2 in Division 1 in the latest Golf Coaches Association of Wisconsin poll, held off the top-ranked Lasers of Kettle Moraine and No. 3 Arrowhead by two shots to win the team title.
The Highlanders, led by senior Ty Mueller’s even-par 72, shot 10-over 298. Kettle Moraine, led by Koenig’s 72, and host Arrowhead, which got 73s from senior Nick Amtmann and sophomore Bode King, finished at 300. Unlike most high school events in which teams play five and count four scores, the format for the MACC Fund Invite was four play, four count.
Madison Edgewood, the top-ranked team in Division 2, was fourth at 307 and was followed by Middleton and Waunakee, tied for fifth at 310. Milwaukee Marquette, the two-time defending Division 1 state champion (the 2020 WIAA tournament was canceled), was seventh at 312.
“They definitely pay attention to the rankings,” Lasers coach John Sams said of his players. “They know there’s talent out there and I think that keeps them pushing. We know Marquette has not played their best. Arrowhead is starting to play a little bit better and test us more. They bested us this week in one of our conference matches. We expect Middleton to be there all the time.”
Marquette junior Sebastian Kasun was the individual medalist with a 2-under 70 on a day that began with a 15-minute frost delay and turned sunny and pleasant before the wind shifted in the afternoon and the temperature dropped, making for difficult conditions.
The victory was Kasun’s first as a high school golfer and was the result of some superb shot-making.
He hit his tee shot on the par-3 sixth and his approaches on the par-4 11th and the par-5 14th to within 2 feet for easy birdies. He also made a 6-footer on the long par-4 10th and rolled in a 12-footer on the par-4 third.
He arrived at the 18th tee at 4-under but double-bogeyed the par-5 after blading a bunker shot.
“Probably nerves had a little something to do with it,” he said. “But I was in the zone most of the time. Overall, it was a really good round. It’s amazing to come out here and play. It’s an incredible course.”
Al Deang, a sophomore at Edgewood, finished second with a 71 and was the only other player in the field of 144 to break par. Deang birdied Nos. 1, 7, 13 and 16 and bogeyed Nos. 2, 14 and 17.
Mueller, Koenig, junior Alec Sosnowski of Middleton and sophomore Peter Hoeppner of Waukesha North tied for third with even-par 72s.
Koenig drove the green on the downwind 312-yard 11th hole and two-putted for one of his two birdies as he tied his best-ever high school score.
“This season I focused a lot on hitting knockdown shots and putting that aspect into my game, because I launch the ball super high,” said Koenig, who works with teacher John Bauer Jr. at The Practice Station in New Berlin. “I’ve been working on it and today I executed it pretty well.”
Michael Addie, a junior at Sussex Hamilton, shot a 73 to tie Amtmann and King for seventh place.
Addie has been on a roll, having won three of his previous four tournaments going into the MACC Fund Invite. His scores were 71, 69, 69 in those victories, and he finished runner-up in the fourth with a 71.
“I was supposed to play here last year but missed out because of COVID,” Addie said. ”Just being out here is awesome. We should all be grateful to be out here. It’s not often you get to come out and play Erin Hills.”
The same sentiment was repeated by many players in the field.
“I love doing things for other people,” King said. “This is a great opportunity not only for Arrowhead but for all the schools around Wisconsin.”