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Social distancing is no problem in the WPGA Pro-Pro Bestball at Meadowbrook CC Tuesday afternoon.

RACINE – No paper scorecards. No printed hole location sheets or local rules. No warm-up on the range. No touching the flagstick. One rider per golf cart. No handshakes or high fives.

It wasn’t exactly business as usual, but it was tournament golf. No one was complaining about the new normal Tuesday at the Wisconsin PGA Section’s Pro-Pro Better Ball, the first statewide competition of the 2020 golf season.

The coronavirus pandemic forced the postponement or cancellation of countless tournaments at all levels, from junior golf to the PGA Tour. But the sun was shining at Meadowbrook Country Club, and 84 WPGA members were happy to finally get the competitive season started.

“It’s good to get out and see the guys again,” said Ryan Helminen, who teaches at Ridgeway Country Club in Neenah and recently was named WPGA Player of the Decade for 2010-’19. “Even though we’ve got a different set of rules, I think everybody can get over that.

“I’m just thankful we’re out here playing. There’s a lot of other people that are in a lot worse circumstance than we are. It’s just great to get out here.”

Foy Swenson of Golf Galaxy and Daniel Romero of Morningstar Golfers Club shot an 8-under 63 in the better ball format and edged Helminen and his partner, Jon Gaschke of Nakoma Golf Club, by one shot. Swenson and Romero split $1,280.

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John Wallrich of Sheboygan Pine Hills hits his tee shot on No. 1 at Meadowbrook CC in Racine in the WPGA Pro-Pro Bestball. Eddie Terasa of North Hills CC (green shirt) looks on. 

Two teams tied for third at 6-under 66: Andy Hansen of University Club and Keith Buntrock of Tuckaway CC, and Evan Wartgow of Koshkonong Mounds CC and Erik Stenseth of University Ridge.

The top 16 teams advanced to the WPGA Four-Ball Match Play Championship bracket, which begins Saturday at multiple facilities.

Stroke-play qualifying and first-round matches in the WPGA Match Play Championship were scheduled for May 18 and 19, but both days were rained out. The qualifier now will be held June 8 in conjunction with the Hornung’s Classic at South Hills Golf & CC in Fond du Lac; because of the condensed summer schedule, 32 golfers will advance to match play instead of the normal 64.

That made the Pro-Pro Better Ball the first true statewide competition on the Wisconsin calendar, though the Chippewa Valley Golf Association held the New Richmond Open on May 11.

There were a few notable differences in the way the tournament was conducted. The new normal included paperless scoring, with the competitors keeping score on their phones.

“I had to remind myself to keep grabbing my phone,” said Craig Czerniejewski, the head professional at Washington County Golf Course. “We don’t grab phones in events; now I’m grabbing it to (record) our team score. I just had to remind myself to keep doing it over and over.”

The traditional scorer’s table was gone. Chris Hoel, the WPGA’s assistant executive director – and the only one wearing a mask – read back each team’s score from his laptop. There were a few glitches, but by and large, scoring was not an issue.

“It’s gone pretty smoothly,” Hoel said. “Everybody has embraced technology and felt good about the paperless aspect. Other than that, for us it feels like a normal golf tournament. Yeah, you’re taking some different precautions and doing some things slightly differently in addition to that, but it’s going well. People seem to be really happy to be playing a competition and be outside.”

The players were grouped in foursomes – two teams of two – but it was one to a cart. About half the players carried their clubs or used a pull-cart. Tee times were set at 12-minute intervals, so groups were spread apart and social distancing was not a problem.

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Chris Hoel, WPGA assistant executive director, sets up a table for post-round scoring confirmation. There were no paper scorecards; competitors kept score on their phones. 

“I don’t like these guys, anyway,” Czerniejewski joked.

Flagsticks could not be removed, but that’s been the norm during the pandemic. There would have been no penalty for removing a flag, but the WPGA would have issued a warning.

“I don’t normally leave it in, but I have obviously the last month,” Helminen said. “It’s just the new normal. It took a little while to get used to it. But now that you’ve played, you’ve just got to realize it’s something to aim at.”

Nobody complained about the practice range being closed or any of the guidelines. The players were just happy to be competing again.

“It’s nice to be out here,” said Jim Gaugert of Harris Golf Cars. “There was nothing really unusual. One person per cart makes it a little less social, but it’s fine. You know me. The glass is always half full and you can always refill it. I’m grateful to play. We’ll get through this. It’s not a big deal.”

POS
TEAM
THRU
TOTAL
STROKES
PURSE
 
1Foy Swenson  Golf Galaxy - Greenfield
Daniel Romero  Morningstar GC
F-863$1,280.00 
2John Gaschke  Nakoma GC
Ryan Helminen  Ridgeway CC
F-764$980.00 
T3Andy Hansen  University Club 
Keith Buntrock  Tuckaway CC
F-566$730.00 
T3Evan Wartgow  Koshkonong Mounds CC
Erik Stenseth  University Ridge GC
F-566$730.00 
T5Jake Wisniewski  Ozaukee CC
Tyler Siech  Ozaukee CC
F-467$510.00 
T5Mick Smith  Washington County GC
Craig Czerniejewski  Washington County GC
F-467$510.00 
T5Ryan Wieme  University Ridge GC
Brian Brodell  Brian Brodell Golf
F-467$510.00 
T8Charlie Brown  Geneva National GC
Bryan Brotchie  Rivermoor GC
F-368$350.00 
T8Michael Crowley  Morningstar GC
Steve Fischer  Premier Golf & Utility Ve
F-368$350.00 
T8David Bach  Whistling Straits GC
Michael O'Reilly  Blackwolf Run
F-368$350.00 
T11Austin Gaugert  ABG Ventures
Kyle Kunash  Grand Geneva
F-269$145.00 
T11Joe Leonard  Kestrel Ridge GC
Shaun Finley  The Oaks GC
F-269$145.00 
T11Eddie Terasa  North Hills CC
Larry Tiziani  PGA Life Member
F-269$145.00 
T11Mark Voeller  Golf Galaxy - Brookfield
Doug Mortola  PGA Life Member
F-269$145.00 
T11Jon Zellmer  Lake Ripley CC
Matthew Kersten  Janesville CC
F-269$145.00 
T11Daniel Rainbow  SentryWorld
Joe Wood  SentryWorld
F-269$145.00 
17Richard Rasmussen  PGA Life Member
John Wallrich  Pine Hills CC
F-170$0.00 
T18Jim Gaugert  Harris Golf Cars
Mike Muranyi  PGA Life Member
FE71$0.00 
T18Thomas Burton  Hidden Glen
Kraig Joy  Ridgeway CC
FE71$0.00 
T18Dave Kemnitz  Minocqua CC
Dan Hastreiter  Blackwolf Run
FE71$0.00 
T18Timothy Schroyer  Pine Hills CC
Eric Schroeder  Butte Des Morts CC
FE71$0.00 
T18Daniel Hoffman  Tour Edge
Joe DeRosa  La Crosse CC
FE71$0.00 
T23Danny Blaesing  Western Lakes GC
Garrett Mack  Western Lakes GC
F+172$0.00 
T23Dave Spengler  NorthBrook Golf & Grill
Doug Cheever  Wausau CC
F+172$0.00 
T23Ryan Zonski  Whistling Straits GC
Josh Grisa  Blackwolf Run
F+172$0.00 
T23Andrew Troyanek  Rivermoor GC
Douglas Shulski  Brighton Dale Links
F+172$0.00 
T27Brad Peck  Nakoma GC
Richard Bartley  Hawks Landing GC
F+273$0.00 
T27Nathan Gray  Fire Ridge GC
Joaquin Diaz  Fire Ridge GC
F+273$0.00 
T27Jason Samuelian  Meadowbrook CC
Eric Hertel  Meadowbrook CC
F+273$0.00 
T27James Grogan  Whitnall Park GC
Matt Sabol  Sand Valley Resort
F+273$0.00 
T27Justin Goosen  WPGA Member
Connor Reeves  Strawberry Creek
F+273$0.00 
T32Evan Hewes  Hawthorne Hills GC
Mark Krause  Muskego Lakes CC
F+374$0.00 
T32Andrew Runkel  The Bog
Robert Elliott  Rob Elliott Golf
F+374$0.00 
T32Josue Reyes  Whistling Straits GC
Glen Murray  Geneva National GC
F+374$0.00 
T35Andrew Barrett  Brown Deer Park GC
Michael Miezin  X - Golf Brookfield
F+475$0.00 
T35John Bailey  Maple Bluff CC
Brad Munn  First Tee of S.Central WI
F+475$0.00 
37James Lombardo  Erin Hills 
Kurt Mantyla  Naga-Waukee GC
F+576$0.00 
38Gunnar Stapp  North Shore CC
Scott Walecki  Dretzka Park GC
F+778$0.00 
39Jeff Ellingson  Edelweiss Chalet CC
Mark Becker  Irish Waters GC
F+980$0.00 
40Nicholas Dockter  Whistling Straits GC
Mike Aschenbach  Whistling Straits GC
F+1081$0.00 
41David Albrecht  Blackwolf Run
Mark Kolb  Whistling Straits GC
F+1182$0.00 
42Joel Weitz  Vitense Golfland 
Milt Kodl  Beloit Club
F+1384$0.00 
 
 

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