Jim Schuman | 2020 state open 1 rd

Jim Schuman, the director of instruction at Blue Mound Golf & Country Club, studies his putt on the 18th green on Monday during the first round of the Wisconsin State Open.

WAUWATOSA – With its wall-to-wall carpet of perfect turf and its greens acquiring a whitish sheen and stressing the Stimpmeter, some are calling Blue Mound Golf & Country Club the “Augusta National of the Midwest.”

The massive greens, double-cut and rolled twice daily by superintendent Alex Beson-Crone's crew, are Blue Mound’s first and last lines of defense. How fast were they Monday in the first round of the 100th Wisconsin State Open? Let’s just say there’s more friction on linoleum.

“They’re faster than Milwaukee’s,” said Thomas Longbella, who won the State Amateur by 10 shots last month at Milwaukee Country Club. “They’re speedy. They’re firm. Some dicey pins, too.”

“I’ve got to say they’re every bit as fast as (PGA) Tour speed,” said Skip Kendall, who has made more than 700 starts in PGA Tour-sanctioned events. “I think they might even be faster. Once, at Memorial, they had them at 15 (feet on the Stimpmeter). But that was just one year. Other than that, I haven’t played greens faster than this, anywhere.”

Fitting, then, that the leaderboard was loaded with some of the biggest names in Wisconsin golf. Almost mini-Masters-like, you could say.

Two-time defending champion Dan Woltman, a Beaver Dam native who is trying to become the first golfer to win the State Open in three consecutive years, fired a 4-under-par 66 to share the lead with minitour pro Kaylor Steger of Mount Pleasant.

A trio of golfers with impressive resumes shot 67s and were tied for third: Brookfield’s Harrison Ott, who has had a monster summer and reached the Round of 16 at the U.S. Amateur last week; Longbella, the University of Minnesota standout from Chippewa Falls; and CJ Swift, a former Marquette University golfer who played for two years on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica.

Among those lurking just three shots off the lead with 69s were the 55-year-old Kendall, a native of Fox Point, and five-time PGA Tour winner Mark Wilson, a native of Menomonee Falls.

The cream always seems to rise to the top at Seth Raynor-designed Blue Mound, a course on which Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazan, Babe Didrikson Zaharias and Cary Middlecoff all won tournaments. Why would the State Open be any different?

Dan Woltman, Ryan Helminen on first tee, Day 1, Wisconsin State Open, Blue Mound

Four-time champion Dan Woltman hits his drive on the first hole Monday during the opening round of the Wisconsin State Open at Blue Mound G&CC. Two-time champion Ryan Helminen looks on.

Woltman, who has status on the Korn Ferry Tour, is trying to join the tournament’s four other five-time winners (Francis Gallett, Bobby Brue, Manuel de la Torre and Steve Stricker). He got off to a good start, but that’s all it was.

“Obviously, this is only a quarter of the way home,” he said. “I’ve got three more rounds to go. It was a solid round. It wasn’t great. I luckily made some (par) saves that kept some momentum going in the middle parts of the round. Overall, I’m happy.”

The key save occurred on No. 11, when he missed the green with a wedge but got up and down, rolling in a slippery 12-footer for par.

“I had just hit it under the lip of the fairway bunker on 10 and made my only bogey of the day,” Woltman said. “There was a two-group backup on No. 12, so I would have had to stand around for 20, 25 minutes thinking about back-to-back bogeys. So, to make that putt was nice.”

He then birdied Nos. 16 and 18 to join Steger atop the leaderboard.

“The golf swing didn’t feel good today,” he said. “I had a couple loose swings. But I saved some shots when I needed to. Hit some good bunker shots. Was able to hit the driver well on a couple holes that got me greenside and I was able to get up and down for birdies. I took advantage of the two par-5s and didn’t really get into that much trouble, which obviously is really easy to do out here.

“Overall, it was good. It wasn’t great, but obviously anytime you shoot 66 around this place you’ve played some good golf.”

Steger, 24, who has played minitour events mostly in the Midwest this summer, would have had the lead alone if not for a bogey on the par-5 18th. The left-hander had just 169 yards for his second shot but missed the green pin-high right with an 8-iron and needed four more shots to get down.

“Yeah, that one hurts a little,” he said. “That stings, especially after having 8-iron into the green. I just pulled it a bit and made it a little sloppy finish, but oh well. I played well throughout otherwise. Hit my driver well and the putter was pretty hot through the beginning and middle stretches.”

Vanderbilt University’s Ott has played a lot of golf this summer and had strong showings in the Western Amateur and the U.S. Amateur, both of which have grueling stroke play-to-match play formats. Burnout, however, is not an issue.

Mark Wilson tee shot | 2020 State Open 1 rd

Mark Wilson hits a drive during the first round of the 2020 Wisconsin State Open. 

“It’s not too bad, honestly,” he said. “I took a break. I didn’t do anything Saturday except for go to the pool. I’m not too bad. It could be worse, for sure.”

Ott said he benefited from being paired with Wilson, who eagled the par-4 sixth, their 15th hole, and finished with a birdie on No. 9 to get into red numbers.

“We were having a good time,” Ott said. “Mark was talking to us, being really friendly. He’s really cool. Really nice guy. Super down to earth.”

Longbella picked up where he left off at Milwaukee CC three weeks ago, despite having not played a practice round at Blue Mound. He made six birdies and three bogeys.

“I showed up today and my game was the same as it was in the final round at Milwaukee,” he said. “I didn’t know the course at all. I played it probably either in eighth grade or freshman year of high school. I got out here and I didn’t really recognize it. My dad does a lot of research on the computer and he kind of drew me out a little plan. Playing with Dan (Woltman) was helpful, too. He knew the course and he helped me out in some spots.”

For Swift, 28, who has played on various minitours and on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica, this is his final tournament as a professional. He is applying for amateur reinstatement Thursday.

CJ Swift| 2020 state open 1 rd

CJ Swift of Naples, Fla., was the early first-round leader at the 2020 Wisconsin State Open being played at Blue Mound G&CC.

“One, I’m getting married and, two, I kind of fell into some bad habits with the swing and kind of lost passion for it,” he said. “It’s tough. If you’re not shooting 68 consistently, it’s tough to make money, it’s tough to make a living. It was just the right time. I’m ready to get my amateur status back, play a couple amateur events and just enjoy it again.

“I wanted this to be my last one because it’s Blue Mound. I only got to play here once in college. It’s truly special.”

Peter Webb, a minitour player from Madison, and former Marquette standout Austin Kendziorski of Germantown shot 2-under 68s.

Besides Kendall and Wilson, the others at 69 were Marquette’s Tyler Leach, who tied for second at the State Amateur; fellow amateur Danny Behm of Hubertus, and club professional Kraig Joy of Appleton.

Kendall, who counts Raynor among his favorite architects, could have spoken for many in the field when he said he was impressed with Blue Mound.

“I love this course,” he said. “It’s right there in front of you but it’s so difficult. The green complexes are very difficult. It’s a test. It’s great. It’s what it should be.”

T1Kaylor Steger  Mount Pleasant, WI-4F-466   66 
T1Dan Woltman  Beaver Dam, WI-4F-466   66 
T3CJ Swift  Naples, FL-3F *-367   67 
T3Thomas Longbella (a)  Chippewa Falls, WI-3F-367   67 
T3Harrison Ott (a)  Brookfield, WI-3F *-367   67 
T6Peter Webb  Madison, WI-2F-268   68 
T6Austin Kendziorski  Germantown, WI-2F *-268   68 
T6Danny Behm (a)  Hubertus, WI-2F-268   68 
T9Kraig Joy  Appleton, WI-1F-169   69 
T9Tyler Leach (a)  Spring Valley, WI-1F *-169   69 
T9Skip Kendall  Windermere, FL-1F *-169   69 
T9Mark Wilson  Elmhurst, IL-1F *-169   69 
T13Jim Schuman  Scottsdale, AZEF *E70   70 
T13Thomas Burton  Fox Point, WIEFE70   70 
T13Chris Johnson  Wisconsin Rapids, WIEF *E70   70 
T13Matt Behm (a)  Valders, WIEFE70   70 
T13Mitch Steiner  Argyle, WIEFE70   70 
T13John Gullberg  Franksville, WIEF *E70   70 
T13Zach Burry  Appleton, WIEF *E70   70 
T13Andy Hansen  Germantown, WIEFE70   70 
T13David Spengler  Verona, WIEFE70   70 
T13Evan Wartgow  Fitchburg, WIEFE70   70 
T13Robbie Morway (a)  Mequon, WIEF *E70   70 
T24John Langhoff  Pewaukee, WI+1F+171   71 
T24Hunter Eichhorn (a)  Carney, MI+1F *+171   71 
T24Tom Boockmeier (a.r.)  Oak Creek, WI+1F+171   71 
T24Garrett Jones (a)  Madison, WI+1F *+171   71 
T24Joe Leonard  Cambridge, WI+1F *+171   71 
T24Cameron Huss (a)  Kenosha, WI+1F+171   71 
T24Samuel Weber  Hartland, WI+1F+171   71 
T24Hunter Pipik (a)  New Berlin, WI+1F *+171   71 
T32Cory Aune (a)  Lake Geneva, WI+2F+272   72 
T32Patrick Stolpe  Scottsdale, AZ+2F+272   72 
T32Samuel Anderson (a)  Stoughton, WI+2F+272   72 
T32Stuart Larus  Wisconsin Rapids, WI+2F+272   72 
T36Cody Strang  Sun Prairie, WI+3F *+373   73 
T36Kyle Henning  Sussex, WI+3F *+373   73 
T36Mick Smith  Summit, WI+3F+373   73 
T36Adam Miller (a)  Nekoosa, WI+3F *+373   73 
T36Brandon Cloete (a)  Madison, WI+3F+373   73 
T36Matthew Davidson (a)  McFarland, WI+3F+373   73 
T36Josh Grisa  Sheboygan, WI+3F+373   73 
T36Timothy Cantwell Jr  Palm Beach Gardens, FL+3F *+373   73 
T36Kyle Bengtson (a)  Woodruff, WI+3F *+373   73 
T36Mark Voeller  Pewaukee, WI+3F+373   73 
T36Nate Thomson (a)  Greendale, WI+3F *+373   73 
T36Andy Buege  Palm Beach Gardens, FL+3F+373   73 
T36Joe Du Chateau (a)  Fond du Lac, WI+3F+373   73 
T36Jamie Christianson  Egg Harbor, WI+3F+373   73 
T36Brent Quade  Madison, WI+3F *+373   73 
T36Keith Buntrock  Franklin, WI+3F *+373   73 
T36Kari Hannula Jr. (a)  De Pere, WI+3F+373   73 
T36Jack Anderson (a)  Brookfield, WI+3F+373   73 
T36Sam Schlosser  West Bend, WI+3F+373   73 
T55Jack Schultz (a)  Milwaukee, WI+4F+474   74 
T55David Bach  Cleveland, WI+4F *+474   74 
T55Max Hosking  Fitchburg, WI+4F *+474   74 
T55Jordan Elsen  Wellington, FL+4F+474   74 
T55Dylan Kline (a)  Neenah, WI+4F *+474   74 
T55Christopher Colla (a)  Fond Du Lac, WI+4F+474   74 
T55Kevin Van Rossum (a)  Hartland, WI+4F *+474   74 
T55Matt Ellis (a.r.)  South Milwaukee, WI+4F *+474   74 
T63Mike Johnston  Chandler, AZ+5F+575   75 
T63Erik Stenseth  Madison, WI+5F+575   75 
T63Randall Hill (a)  Wisconsin Rapids, WI+5F *+575   75 
T63Eddie Terasa  Waukesha, WI+5F *+575   75 
T63Zach Gaugert  Scottsdale, AZ+5F+575   75 
T63Jeffrey Kaiser  Verona, WI+5F *+575   75 
T63Kyle Kunash  Woodstock, IL+5F *+575   75 
T63Brian Morris (a)  Shorewood, WI+5F+575   75 
T63Andrew Knoll  New Berlin, WI+5F *+575   75 
T63Michael Crowley  Fox Point, WI+5F+575   75 
T63Kurt Mantyla  Wauwatosa, WI+5F *+575   75 
T63Piercen Hunt (a)  Hartland, WI+5F *+575   75 
T63Charles Delsman  Nekoosa, WI+5F *+575   75 
T63Craig Czerniejewski  Hartford, WI+5F *+575   75 
T63Cole Stark (a)  Altoona, WI+5F+575   75 
T78Rocky Sperka (a)  New Berlin, WI+6F *+676   76 
T78Jim Lemon (a)  Verona, WI+6F+676   76 
T78Owen Butler (a)  Stoughton, WI+6F+676   76 
T78Tyler Siech  Plymouth, WI+6F+676   76 
T78Isaac Prefontaine (a)  New Franken, WI+6F+676   76 
T78Andrew Steinhofer  Madison, WI+6F *+676   76 
T78Ryan Duffey (a)  Brookfield, WI+6F *+676   76 
T78Matt Sabol  Sheboygan, WI+6F+676   76 
T78Bryan Brotchie  Williams Bay, WI+6F+676   76 
T78Ryan Isaacson  Eau Claire, WI+6F *+676   76 
T78Michael Bielawski (a)  Waukesha, WI+6F+676   76 
T78Neal Grusczynski  Athens, OH+6F+676   76 
T78Tim McCormick  Madison, WI+6F *+676   76 
T78Neil Johnson  River Falls, WI+6F *+676   76 
T78Jason Rasmussen  Grafton, WI+6F *+676   76 
T78John Freeman  Muskego, WI+6F *+676   76 
T78Max Pasher (a)  Mequon, WI+6F+676   76 
T78Marty Swab (a)  Menomonee Falls, WI+6F *+676   76 
T78John (Jack) Blair (a)  Wauwatosa, WI+6F *+676   76 
T97George Kneiser  Oconomowoc, WI+7F+777   77 
T97Joe Weber (a)  Onalaska, WI+7F *+777   77 
T97Ryan Siegler (a)  Brookfield, WI+7F+777   77 
T97David Brock (a)  Mequon, WI+7F+777   77 
T97Ryan Franklin  Oconomowoc, WI+7F *+777   77 
T97Phillip Johnson (a)  Colgate, WI+7F+777   77 
T97Dan Hastreiter  Sheboygan, WI+7F *+777   77 
T97Joe True (a)  Milwaukee, WI+7F *+777   77 
T97Ryonen Faris (a)  Fond Du Lac, WI+7F *+777   77 
T97Ryan Helminen  Menasha, WI+7F+777   77 
T97Bennett Swavely (a)  Hudson, WI+7F+777   77 
T97Ricky Kuiper (a)  Racine, WI+7F+777   77 
T97Aidan Lafferty (a)  Downers Grove, IL+7F *+777   77 
T110Sam Osborne (a.r.)  Williams Bay, WI+8F+878   78 
T110Kevin Cahill (a)  Waukesha, WI+8F *+878   78 
T110Jed Baranczyk (a)  Green Bay, WI+8F+878   78 
T110Brian McCall (a)  Middleton, WI+8F+878   78 
T110Alex Okray (a)  Stevens Point, WI+8F *+878   78 
T110Chad Sandee  Plymouth, WI+8F+878   78 
T110David Roesch  Menomonee Falls, WI+8F+878   78 
T110Matt Taken  Franklin, WI+8F+878   78 
T110Ben Shafer (a)  Brookfield, WI+8F *+878   78 
T110Dylan Brown (a)  Reedsburg, WI+8F *+878   78 
T120Michael Higgins  Madison, WI+9F *+979   79 
T120John Gaschke  Oregon, WI+9F+979   79 
T120Nick Nelson (a)  Milwaukee, WI+9F+979   79 
T120Drew Sagrillo (a)  Mequon, WI+9F *+979   79 
T120Jacob Beckman (a)  Middleton, WI+9F+979   79 
T120Brad Munn  Cottage Grove, WI+9F *+979   79 
T120JT Johnson (a)  Eden Prairie, MN+9F *+979   79 
T120Andrew Podolak  West Bend, WI+9F *+979   79 
T120Nathan Joy (a)  Franklin, WI+9F+979   79 
T120Paul Zarek (a)  Burlington, WI+9F *+979   79 
T130Eric Schroeckenthaler  Waukesha, WI+10F+1080   80 
T130Robert Gregorski (a)  Menasha, WI+10F *+1080   80 
T130Aiden Cudney (a)  Appleton, WI+10F+1080   80 
T130Joe DeRosa  Onalaska, WI+10F+1080   80 
T130Sam Cianciola (a)  Nekoosa, WI+10F+1080   80 
T130Christopher Vendl  St. Germain, WI+10F *+1080   80 
T130Mason Schulz (a)  Mukwonago, WI+10F+1080   80 
T130Jim Gaugert  Lake Geneva, WI+10F *+1080   80 
T130Robert Hughes (a)  Wauwatosa, WI+10F *+1080   80 
T139Josh Teplin (a)  Mequon, WI+11F+1181   81 
T139Scott LeMire  Appleton, WI+11F+1181   81 
T139Tyler Cleaves (a)  Kaukauna, WI+11F *+1181   81 
T139Joshua Haunty (a)  Middleton, WI+11F *+1181   81 
T139J.T. Thompson  Wisconsin Rapids, WI+11F+1181   81 
T144Charlie Brown  Sturtevant, WI+12F *+1282   82 
T144Matt Goodson  Beaver Dam, WI+12F+1282   82 
T144Kyle Smith (a)  Grafton, WI+12F+1282   82 
T147Jason Samuelian  Franklin, WI+13F *+1383   83 
T147Sam Strachan  New Richmond, WI+13F *+1383   83 
149Gunnar Stapp  Jackson, WI+14F *+1484   84 
150Kyle Figlmiller (a)  Appleton, WI+15F *+1585   85 
T151Ryan Zonski  Sheboygan Falls, WI+16F *+1686   86 
T151Michael ONeil (a)  Muskego, WI+16F *+1686   86 
T151Peter Kaufmann (a)  Milwaukee, WI+16F+1686   86 
154Dave Kemnitz  Minocqua, WI+17F *+1787   87 
T155Andrew Sharafinski (a)  Greendale, WI+19F *+1989   89 
T155Shaun Finley  Sun Prairie, WI+19F+1989   89 
* denotes a 10th hole start


Gary has covered golf in Wisconsin since 1980 and is a multiple award winner in the GWAA writing contest. He was inducted into the WSGA Hall of Fame in 2017 and joined Wisconsin.Golf in 2018 after a distinguished career at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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