Rachel Kauflin, Wauwatosa West

2018 Wisconsin PGA Junior Girls Player of the Year Rachel Kauflin.

Few have done more over the last four years to elevate her prominence in Wisconsin junior girls golf circles than Rachel Kauflin.

The Wauwatosa East/West junior has competed in a staggering 76 WPGA Junior points events in that span and won 27 of them. Since competing in her first WPGA-sanctioned events in 2012, Kauflin has teed it up in 92 tournaments and has been credited with a whopping 39 victories.

Her work in 2018 has vaulted her to the top of the girls Class of 2020 in the latest update of the Wisconsin.Golf junior rankings. She is the third No. 1 in as many updates for this class, following Lake Geneva Badger’s Holly Murphy in 2017 and Madison Edgewood’s Grace Welch in 2016.

However, the race for the top is only now starting to heat up.

Kauflin, who was No. 5 in last year’s Wisconsin.Golf update of the Class of 2020 rankings, ascended to No. 1 with a breakout summer highlighted by a six-shot victory against a strong field at the Sherri Steinhauer Invitational in Madison and capped by a third-place finish at the WIAA Division 1 state tournament. One stroke off the lead after an opening 73 at University Ridge, Kauflin couldn’t match the birdie-fest between Bay Port’s Jo Baranczyk and Hartland Arrowhead’s Emily Lauterbach, shot 77 and finished eight shots behind Baranczyk, the No. 1 golfer in Wisconsin.Golf’s Class of 2021 rankings who played her final nine holes in 4-under.

Still, Kauflin’s presence near the top of the leaderboard in the final event of the year reflected the great strides she made from the start of the summer. Inconsistency from hole-to-hole and round-to-round plagued her at the Lake Arrowhead Invitational, the Wisconsin Women’s State Open and, especially, the WPGA Junior Championship, where she shot 97-82, tying for 36th.

That would be the last time she finished outside the top five in a WPGA Junior points event. In addition to her win at the Sherri Steinhauer, where she shot a pair of 74s at Blackhawk Country Club and Pleasant View Golf Course, Kauflin also won a two-day WPGA Players Tour event at the Golf Courses of Lawsonia with a pair of 78s, WPGA Junior Tour events at Dretzka Park and Oakwood Park and a Tour Edge Milwaukee County Parks Series event at Currie Park. In the 18 stroke-play rounds following the WPGA Junior Championship, she broke 80 in 15 of them.

The great promise Kauflin showed toward the end of her summer was even more noteworthy because the Class of 2020, as a group, enjoyed a phenomenal showing at the WIAA state tournament, which — at 5,216 yards at University Ridge GC — isn’t the most daunting course set-up they face, but — with by far the most spectators — might be the most nerve-wracking.

Swartz and Murphy, who share the No. 2 spot in this ranking update, finished tied for sixth and 10th, respectively, in the Division 1 field. No. 4 Kate Meyer of Middleton finished fifth in Division 1 and Welch, ranked No. 5, tied for third in Division 2 in the 36-hole event to cap the season.

However, beyond No. 6 Sami Krutz of Brookfield Central and No. 7 Grace Suter of Oconomowoc, many of the golfers in the Class of 2020 remain a mystery heading into the final summer before their senior year next fall. Only five other golfers competed in PGA section junior championships in Wisconsin or Minnesota this past summer and only nine competed in the girls-only tournament opportunities offered annually by the Sherri Steinhauer Invitational or the SentryWorld Classic.

Many college coaches will need to see a much broader body of work from the bulk of this class than what they do during the high school season, when courses are set up far easier as coaches take into account the playability of layouts for the No. 5 golfers as much or more than the No. 1s.

However, as Kauflin showed the last four years, there are ample opportunities on the junior golf calendar to that happen. Sure, it helps to have talent, but it is as important to have commitment.

Girls Class of 2020

The Wisconsin.Golf class-by-class rankings are compiled by digital editor Rob Hernandez based on an analysis of tournament results and overall impact of golfers within their class. Opinions and insight on golfers in this class are welcome and will be used for future rankings; updates on college decisions are also welcome. They can be shared via email at robhernandezdotgolf@gmail.com.  

No. First name Last name High School Nov.
2017
Nov.
2016
1 Rachel Kauflin Wauwatosa East/West 5 6
2 Holly Murphy Lake Geneva Badger 1 4
Mallory Swartz Franklin 3 7
4 Kate Meier Middleton 4 2
5 Grace Welch Madison Edgewood 2 1
6 Sami Krutz Brookfield Central NR NR
7 Grace Suter Oconomowoc 20 NR
8 Julia Schilling Kettle Moraine 8 NR
9 Kiernan Smith Maple Northwestern NR NR
10 Claudia Seeman Milton 6 3
11 Jessica Hagman New Richmond 7 5
12 Myranda Kotlowski Stoughton 13 NR
13 Rylie Severson Ashwaubenon NR NR
14 Abby Nickel Stevens Point 24 NR
15 Meredith Boos Waukesha Catholic Memorial NR NR
16 Ellie Kaiser Hartland Arrowhead NR NR
17 Ellie Schneider De Pere NR NR
18 Carly Moon Baraboo NR NR
19 Ellie Craig Mukwonago 9 8
20 Sadie Kelly Pulaski NR NR
21 Sydney O'Hearn Sun Prairie NR NR
22 Makenzie Hodson Middleton 19 NR
23 Haley Myers Somerset 11 NR
24 Abby DeMoe Colfax 12 10
25 Sara Nerad Janesville Craig 22 NR
26 Maddie Wilke Cedarburg NR NR
27 Brooke Ehle Waunakee 14 NR
28 Cadie Ash Waupaca NR NR
29 Emma Onesti Green Bay Preble NR NR
30 Hannah Harper River Falls 17 13
31 Ariel Heuer Fall Creek NR NR
32 Anaka Leske Madison Edgewood 18 15
33 Rylee Haines Arcadia 23 9
34 Kady Cawley Kettle Moraine 10 NR
35 Anna Cesarz Milwaukee DSHA 21 NR
36 Alyssa Dreher Kewaskum/Campbellsport NR NR
37 Caitlyn Ott Verona 15 NR
38 Amanda Ruona Hartford 16 NR
39 Ally Nickel Stevens Point 25 NR
40 Alexis Fredericks Prescott NR NR

rob@killarneygolfmedia.com

Rob started covering the Wisconsin golf scene in 1987 at the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison & has been the only reporter covering all levels of state golf. He joined Killarney Golf Media in Sept. 2015 & helped launch Wisconsin.Golf in Jan. 2016.