The Wisconsin golf community lost in 2018 some very special people who left their mark on the game and the people who play it.
That list included two names who rank among the best ever to play the game competitively in Wisconsin.
Four-time Wisconsin State Open champion Tommy Veech died Feb. 12 at his home in Vero Beach, Florida, at age 88. Six-time Wisconsin State Amateur champion Mark Bemowski of Mukwonago died Sept. 21 of complications from pancreatic cancer, which he had been battling for the past two years.
The deaths of Wisconsin's two golfing icons ranked as the No. 6-ranked story in Wisconsin.Golf's staff-chosen top 18 of 2018.
A graduate of Menomonee Falls High School, where he won the 1964 WIAA state boys golf championship, Bemowski cut his teeth as a caddie at North Hills Country Club, where Veech was his mentor. In fact, Bemowski spoke to the impact Veech had on his life shortly after Veech's death in February, when his own health had taken a turn for the better and he was preparing to play in several WSGA Senior Tour events at some of his favorite courses.
"Tom was the most talented player that I’ve ever seen come through here," Bemowski said of the 6-foot-2, 275-pound Veech a 1979 WSGA Hall of Fame inductee. "Not a lot of people know about him. He didn’t win a million tournaments out there. But he was an incredible golfer, just fantastic.
"I grew up at North Hills and I caddied for him. Later on, I played many, many rounds with him and we were very good friends. I learned a lot from him. It was just a pleasure every day that I got to play golf with him. It was such a learning experience and it was just so fascinating to watch him hit shots and do things that they just don’t do anymore. In fact, nobody I've ever seen could do it like he could do it back then. He was an amazing, amazing guy."
People were saying the same thing about Bemowski in the wake of his death seven months later.
“When you start ranking career amateurs in Wisconsin, there’s no question who is No. 1,” said longtime friend and fellow competitor Randy Warobick. “And No. 2 is far down the list. What Mark achieved over his career, it’s almost impossible to think it would ever be accomplished again.”
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