Brandon Cloete fairway.jpg

Former Marquette golfer Brandon Cloete, pictured here at the 2017 Wisconsin State Open, won the 2019 WSGA State Mid-Amateur Championship this week at Maple Bluff Country Club in Madison. 

It took Brandon Cloete less than three years and two failed trips through the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School in his native South Africa to realize a career as a professional golfer might not be the easiest path to success and happiness.

It took the former Marquette University golfer 36 holes this week in the thick of the chase for the WSGA State Mid-Amateur Championship at Maple Bluff Country Club in Madison to realize how much fun competitive golf can be when your future doesn't depend on it. In his new line of work, that's called wealth management.

Cloete, 27, certainly felt richer for the experience after he fought past 31-year-old George Botts of Madison in a thrilling final round to win the sixth annual event for amateur golfers age 25 and older. His 3-under-par 68 in the final round gave Cloete a three-stroke victory over Botts and a considerable boost of confidence going into the 39th U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, which starts Saturday at the Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colo.

"It's been amazing for me," Cloete said Wednesday in a telephone interview. "I turned pro for a very brief time in 2017. I failed to get (onto) the Sunshine Tour twice and came over to the States, tried a few Web.com (Tour events) and still didn't get through that. I realized very soon, as a pro, it wasn't what I wanted to do anymore. I got my amateur status in October of 2018. Funny enough, since then I've been playing some of the best golf of my life.

"Not even worrying about it. Just enjoying playing golf again. Enjoying being in tournaments. Being in contention."

That's what made the last two days at Maple Bluff so enjoyable.

One shot behind to start the day, Cloete finally caught Botts, who didn't make a bogey over his first 27 holes, with a birdie on No. 14, took a one-shot lead when Botts three-putted from above the hole on No. 15 and then extended his cushion to two shots with a clutch par on the tricky, par-4 16th hole. Cloete called it the "defining moment" of the tournament because both he and Botts had to weigh the merit of using driver on the 370-yard hole vs. laying up and bringing the overhanging branches of a tree right of the green into play.

"I looked at the hole and thought the best option here was to get up as close to the green (left) as possible," Cloete said. "Even if I am in the rough or in the trees, there is no greenside bunker on that hole and you can try to punch one up to that back, right corner and leave yourself with a putt. ... It was probably my best drive of the day. It was about 40 yards short of the green in the left corner of the fairway with a perfect angle in (to the green)."

Botts left his drive out to the right. His approach shot clipped the tree and fell straight down. He left his third shot short of the hole and made a scrambling bogey while Cloete, whose approach shot hit a pitch mark and stopped dead on the green, made a two-putt par over the ridge to go two shots ahead.

"That was really the decider there," said Cloete, whose poise down the stretch came after he made a double-bogey on No. 12. "Funny enough, the calmest I felt the whole day was after I made the double on 12 and went back to one behind. I knew I need to get back to 3-under. I felt that was enough because it was a tough golf course, especially with the tournament nerves between myself and George. I felt really calm after I made the big mistake.

"I guess it showed down the stretch. I was able to hold on."

His victory comes amid a very busy time in his life.

Last Friday, he married his girlfriend Elyse McGillis in a small, courthouse ceremony in front of their families. Cloete, who left a job as an internal consultant for Investec in August to move to Madison to be with his new wife, said a more formal wedding will take place at a later date once the couple has had the chance to figure out where they want to put down roots long-term.

Elyse works as a project coordinator at UW Health in Madison. Cloete, who graduated Marquette with a finance degree, spent the last month caddying at Sand Valley Golf Resort near Nekoosa while he explores job options as a financial adviser. 

"We don't want to make a decision on a whim," Cloete said. "Wherever we go will have to suit both of us. ... I'd been working for a company back home that dealt with high-network individuals and their investments. ... I was growing to become, eventually, an adviser myself. That's precisely what I want to go back into. I want to be client-facing. I want to get to know people.

"I want to use golf as a networking opportunity, but also become that trusted person to people."

In the meantime, Cloete is eager to spend another week on the golf course to see if he can trust his game against the nation's top over-25 amateurs.

"I guess the pressure of not having to perform and get results has worked out," said Cloete, who also won several events in South Africa since regaining amateur status. "Somehow, without having to practice or play everyday and having a job at home, I've still been able to maintain my playing ability."


POS
 
PLAYER
TOTAL
THRU
TODAY
R1
R2
STROKES
POINTS
PURSE
 
1
Arrow Up
 1
Brandon Cloete  Madison, WI-3F-37168139200$0 
2
Arrow Down
 1
George Botts  Madison, WIEF+17072142150$0 
3
Arrow Up
 1
Jim Doing  Verona, WI+2F+17272144130$0 
4
Arrow Down
 2
Geoff Pirkl  Oconomowoc, WI+3F+37174145120$0 
5
Arrow Up
 1
Jeffrey Kinnel  Shorewood, WI+4F+27373146110$0 
T6
Arrow Up
 1
Joe Weber  Onalaska, WI+5F+2747314790$0 
T6
Arrow Down
 2
Kevin Van Rossum  Hartland, WI+5F+4727514790$0 
T6
Arrow Up
 4
Kevin Cahill  Waukesha, WI+5F+1757214790$0 
T9
Arrow Down
 2
Kari Hannula Jr  De Pere, WI+7F+4747514956.25$0 
T9
Arrow Up
 1
Chris Wood  Mount Pleasant, WI+7F+3757414956.25$0 
T9
Arrow Up
 7
Jade Royston  Wisconsin Dells, WI+7F+2767314956.25$0 
T9
Arrow Up
 24
Joe DuChateau  Fond Du Lac, WI+7FE787114956.25$0 
T13
Arrow Up
 3
Aaron Gavin  South Milwaukee, WI+9F+4767515137.50$0 
T13
Arrow Up
 3
Carl Hottmann  Middleton, WI+9F+4767515137.50$0 
T15
Arrow Down
 5
Paul Schwarz  Appleton+10F+6757715220$0 
T15
Arrow Up
 1
Todd Schaap  Kenosha+10F+5767615220$0 
T15
Arrow Up
 13
Todd Westrich  De Pere+10F+4777515220$0 
T15
Arrow Up
 27
Craig Hodgson  Belleville, WI+10F+2797315220$0 
T15
Arrow Up
 35
John Stravinski  Windsor, WI+10F+1807215220$0 
T20
Arrow Down
 10
Jonathan Fall  Cedarburg, WI+11F+775781531.67$0 
T20
Arrow Up
 8
Derrick Meier  Waunakee, WI+11F+577761531.67$0 
T20
Arrow Up
 8
Derek Pirkl  Madison, WI+11F+577761531.67$0 
T23
Arrow Down
 7
Robert Gregorski  Menasha, WI+12F+77678154 $0 
T23
Arrow Down
 13
Colton Duwe  Oconomowoc, WI+12F+87579154 $0 
T23
Arrow Down
 7
Ben Opsal  Rhinelander, WI+12F+77678154 $0 
T23
Arrow Down
 7
Bruce Henning  Brookfield, WI+12F+77678154 $0 
T23
Arrow Up
 10
Michael Flynn  Middleton, WI+12F+57876154 $0 
T23
Arrow Up
 10
Dick Regenberg  Madison, WI+12F+57876154 $0 
T23
Arrow Up
 19
Nicholas Zellmer  Milwaukee, WI+12F+47975154 $0 
T23
Arrow Up
 19
Ahmad Perry  Mequon, WI+12F+47975154 $0 
T31
Arrow Down
 21
Jeff Glisch  Middleton, WI+13F+97580155 $0 
T31
Arrow Down
 3
Mike Murphy  Fitchburg, WI+13F+77778155 $0 
T31
Arrow Up
 2
Ryan Penfield  Madison, WI+13F+67877155 $0 
T31
Arrow Up
 19
Dave Ullenberg  Brown Deer, WI+13F+48075155 $0 
T31
Arrow Up
 19
Bob Eldridge  Oconomowoc, WI+13F *+48075155 $0 
T31
Arrow Up
 35
John Kestly  Pewaukee, WI+13F+18372155 $0 
T37
Arrow Down
 21
Jim Gariti  Cottage Grove, WI+14F+97680156 $0 
T37
Arrow Down
 9
Brian McCall  Middleton, WI+14F+87779156 $0 
T37
Arrow Up
 5
Jason Jahnke  Kewaskum, WI+14F+67977156 $0 
T37
Arrow Up
 13
Chip Summers  Richfield, WI+14F+58076156 $0 
T37
Arrow Up
 21
Gregory Wagner  Cambridge, WI+14F *+48175156 $0 
T37
Arrow Up
 25
Garth Gilster  Eagle River, WI+14F *+38274156 $0 
T37
Arrow Up
 21
Michael Bastian  Milwaukee, WI+14F *+48175156 $0 
T37
Arrow Up
 25
Robert Hughes  Wauwatosa, WI+14F+38274156 $0 
T37
Arrow Up
 29
Eric Goldapske  Sun Prairie, WI+14F+28373156 $0 
T46
Arrow Down
 39
Jim Rollefson  Franklin, WI+16F+137484158 $0 
T46
Arrow Up
 12
Richie Burke  Milwaukee, WI+16F *+68177158 $0 
T46
Arrow Up
 12
Marc Shanks  Madison, WI+16F *+68177158 $0 
T49
Arrow Down
 33
Jim Walkley  Onalaska, WI+17F+127683159 $0 
T49
Arrow Down
 33
Bill Buckles  Stoughton, WI+17F+127683159 $0 
T49
Arrow Down
 33
Steven Tylke  Lisbon, WI+17F+127683159 $0 
T49
Arrow Down
 16
Mike Mueller  Whitefish Bay, WI+17F+107881159 $0 
T49
Arrow Up
 1
Corey Sell  Oconomowoc, WI+17F+88079159 $0 
T49
Arrow Up
 32
Montana Stewart  Onalaska, WI+17F+38574159 $0 
T55
Arrow Down
 13
Peter Kaufmann  Wauwatosa, WI+18F+107981160 $0 
T55
Arrow Down
 13
Joe Knapton  Mt Pleasant, WI+18F+107981160 $0 
T55
Arrow Up
 11
Ryan Schmus  Brookfield, WI+18F+68377160 $0 
T58
Arrow Down
 25
Travis Pronschinske  Oconomowoc, WI+19F+127883161 $0 
T58
Arrow Down
 16
Kyler Royston  Wisconsin Dells, WI+19F+117982161 $0 
T58
Arrow Up
 8
Scott Johnson  Verona, WI+19F+78378161 $0 
T58
Arrow Up
 18
Daniel Benedum  Menomonee Falls, WI+19F+68477161 $0 
T62
Arrow Down
 46
Jason Schroeder  Oregon, WI+20F+157686162 $0 
T62
Arrow Down
 29
Brad O'Loughlin  Madison, WI+20F+137884162 $0 
T62
Arrow Down
 29
Charles Buhrow  Brookfield, WI+20F+137884162 $0 
T62
Arrow Down
 29
Erich Schwarz  Madison, WI+20F+137884162 $0 
T62
Arrow Up
 4
James Gunsalus  Brookfield, WI+20F+88379162 $0 
T67
Arrow Down
 25
Alexander Fons  Milwaukee, WI+21F+137984163 $0 
T67
Arrow Down
 17
John Triller  Green Lake, WI+21F+128083163 $0 
T67
Arrow Down
 17
John Golden  Sun Prairie, WI+21F+128083163 $0 
T67
Arrow Down
 5
Walter Nusslock  Glendale, WI+21F+108281163 $0 
T67
Arrow Up
 14
Charlie Baumann  Monroe, WI+21F+78578163 $0 
T72
Arrow Up
 4
Patrick Gorman  East Troy, WI+22F+98480164 $0 
T72
Arrow Up
 12
Rick Theiler  Grafton, WI+22F+78678164 $0 
T74
Arrow Up
 2
Derek Westrum  McFarland, WI+23F+108481165 $0 
T74
Arrow Up
 10
Kyle Smith  Grafton, WI+23F+88679165 $0 
T76
Arrow Up
 5
Tom Thompson  DePere, WI+24F+108581166 $0 
T76
Arrow Up
 14
Scott Behring  Franklin, WI+24F+88779166 $0 
T76
Arrow Up
 8
Jacob LaConte  Waukesha, WI+24F+98680166 $0 
T79
Arrow Down
 17
Daniel Mueller  Kenosha, WI+25F+148285167 $0 
T79
Arrow Down
 13
Matt Fitzgerald  Verona, WI+25F+138384167 $0 
T79
Arrow Up
 5
Bill Feehan, Jr.  La Crosse+25F+108681167 $0 
T79
Arrow Up
 11
Bradley Hill  Menomonee Falls, WI+25F+98780167 $0 
T79
Arrow Up
 11
Tom Murphy  Madison, WI+25F+98780167 $0 
T79
Arrow Up
 20
Chris Kleine  Middleton, WI+25F+69077167 $0 
T85
Arrow Down
 19
Tom Schoewe  Sun Prairie, WI+26F+148385168 $0 
T85
Arrow Down
 19
Dean Sixel  Sheboygan, WI+26F+148385168 $0 
T85
Arrow Down
 1
Dan Wick  Waukesha, WI+26F+118682168 $0 
T85
Arrow Up
 12
Brian Orozco  Greenfield, WI+26F+88979168 $0 
T89
Arrow Down
 13
Billy Strey  Genoa City, WI+27F+148485169 $0 
T89
Arrow Down
 13
Nick Schreck  Madison, WI+27F+148485169 $0 
T89
Arrow Up
 5
Mike Aumann  Blue Mounds, WI+27F+108881169 $0 
92
Arrow Down
 2
Wesley Schwarz  Kaukauna, WI+28F+128783170 $0 
T93
Arrow Down
 43
Keith Luedtke  South Milwaukee, WI+29F *+208091171 $0 
T93
Arrow Down
 9
Rick Stewart  Onalaska, WI+29F+148685171 $0 
95
Arrow Down
 1
Paul Borek  Greenville, WI+30F+138884172 $0 
96
Arrow Down
 30
Evan Johnston  Middleton, WI+32F+208391174 $0 
T97
Arrow Down
 31
Adam Willms  Muskego, WI+34F+228393176 $0 
T97-Nick Tanin  Madison, WI+34F+168987176 $0 
T97
Arrow Up
 5
Brett Hughes  Madison, WI+34F+139284176 $0 
100
Arrow Down
 6
Jonathan Krause  Oshkosh, WI+35F+188889177 $0 
101
Arrow Down
 2
Robert Martin  Eau Claire, WI+38F+199090180 $0 
102
Arrow Down
 1
Matthew Schmit  Verona, WI+41F+219192183 $0 
103
Arrow Down
 1
Jon Budzien  Madison, WI+43F+229293185 $0