COTTAGE GROVE — Wisconsin high school golf was back in action Thursday.
On a pleasantly warm day in Cottage Grove, a parade of teams descended on The Oaks Golf Course to tee off competitively for the first time in nearly two years. With so much time between events, they had no idea how the invite would shake out. When the scores settled, Baraboo and Sauk Prairie took 11th and 12th, respectively, in the 15-team event hosted by Monona Grove.
“It feels so nice to have the guys out playing in a competitive golf season and it seems so long ago that we have,” Baraboo coach Landon Brownell said. “The course was looking pretty good and the greens were rolling nicely. It was a good first test for the five players that played today for Baraboo.”
Milwaukee Marquette shot a 319 to run away with the team title, while Griffin Oberneder won individual medalist honors with a 68 on the par-72 course.
Baraboo’s season-opening lineup included Charlie Gibbs, Kane Mahoney, Adam Jannsen, Tyler Poker and Luna Larson. Gibbs led the group by shooting an 89 in the first event of his junior year.
“Charlie Gibbs scored 89 today to start out the season and, if you ask him, he wasn’t happy with that,” Brownell said. “He was hitting the ball decently but early-season touch shots aren’t quite there yet and you have to adjust to the course and the greens as you go. Once you do start to get settled into the round and used to the course, you run out of holes to play by the end of the round. Now that the first one is in the bag, Charlie is looking forward to tomorrow and a new round at Reedsburg.”
Gibbs was the only member of the Thunderbirds with significant varsity experience entering the season. They found some new contributors Thursday. Mahoney, a junior, stepped in and contributed immediately with a 93.
“It was great seeing Kane Mahoney playing out on the course today because it was pretty much the first time I have been able to be with him on the course for an extended period of time to see how he plays the different parts of the golf game and handles himself,” Brownell said. “He hits the ball consistently and with more competitive experience he is able to get, the more he is going to be comfortable in a varsity role.”
Janssen, a sophomore, was in a similar position, showing his ability while closing the day with a 96.
“Adam Jannsen got his first competitive experience today and he is already gaining the confidence around the course and in the tournament atmosphere,” Brownell said. “He started a bit slow with some early jitters, but settled in nicely and was really adjusting to the greens and how the course rolls out. He is going to be a big part of our Baraboo program.”
Poker, a freshman, added a 98, while Larson, a junior, came in with a 99.
“Tyler Poker had his first Baraboo program round in and kept the score under 100 finishing with a 98,” Brownell said. “He knows his way around a golf course and has a lot of playing experience already. Once he gets a few more rounds in with the team, I feel his game is only going to get better with time.
“Luna Larson is also a newcomer to the Baraboo program and had his first round for the team. He has really developed a love for golf and can hit the ball well. The more experience he gets in these tournaments, the more his game is going to come together. He started out a bit slow but also started to settle in. With some work on course management and shot selection, I know he is going to be a big part of our program.”
While Baraboo rolled out almost an entirely new lineup, Sauk Prairie had several veterans on the course Thursday. Senior Spencer LaCour and juniors Connor Ballweg and Jack Gorsuch each shot a 98 to lead the Eagles, while junior Ellis Kirner added a 102.
Baraboo and Sauk Prairie will both get right back at it Friday at Reedsburg Country Club.