BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — After victories in Conference, Regionals, and Sectionals, the Boys Golf team headed south for the IHSA State Finals at The Den Golf Course. While conditions weren’t ideal for the practice round on Thursday, everyone still managed to get a good sense of what the challenging course had to offer.
“We knew The Den was going to be tough,” said senior Captain Danny Fisher. “We didn’t know there would be snow.”
Heavy precipitation in a wintry mix form plagued the Friday round. Although sophomore Colin Jasper still managed to grind through a one-under front nine and freshman Jack Marshall was set to make the turn at even, the IHSA was forced to cancel the day’s round due to the harsh conditions.
“Having to hit the reset button was obviously frustrating,” said Jasper. “But my solid round on Friday gave me a confidence boost heading into Saturday, and I got off to a good start.”
The weather on Saturday was significantly better, and it showed: the counting four Scouts played the first three holes one-under. From there, as the wind picked up, the Scouts hit some bumps. Senior Danny Fisher suffered a double bogey on the 544-yard par five two holes later, and sophomore Charlie Haggerty, who was even through four, met his match on holes five and six. As a team, the Scouts were able to rebound on hole seven (all but one parred), but the sheer distance of hole eight – a par three – along with the increasing wind extracted four bogeys from the Scouts Golf team.
“We knew it was going to be hard… [we] just had to keep fighting,” said captain Sam Davis.
Playing hole nine even altogether, though, the Scouts finished their front on a positive note. Halfway through the day, the combined top four (Moorhead, Marshall, Davis, Jasper) were seven over. Hinsdale Central snagged a commanding five stroke lead over the Scouts, but it was short lived: they played the next two holes four over as a team. Meanwhile, junior Pat Moorhead made up a stroke on the par five ten. Fisher also jumped back in with a birdie on ten, putting him back into contention for scoring his round.
At the same time, freshman Jack Marshall had the chance to bounce back from an errant tee shot and ultimately a bogey on number twelve with a close chip on thirteen.
“That should be an easy chip for him,” said Assistant Coach Graham O’Connor-Brooks at the time. “He’s got this one.”
Sure enough, the freshman sensation was able to land the ball perfectly in the tight optimal landing zone, and as his parents and teammates watched, it slowly yet decidedly dropped into the hole.
“I was taking it one shot at a time, you know? In moments like this you gotta slow it down,” said Marshall.
Just a few holes behind, Fisher was on a mission. An unfortunate bogey on nine propelled him to some solid play to start off the back nine; he played holes ten through 15 two under par.
With only three holes left, the pressure was on. The fairway on 16 included plenty of The Den’s famous bumpy slopes to add challenge to the approach, but length wasn’t an issue here. With no hazards (except two traps behind the green and open land as far as the eye can see to the left), it was certainly a chance to gain a stroke before arguably the toughest hole on the track. The green itself is one of the bigger ones, but a back right pin placement punished a shot left short. Par after par rolled in for the Scouts, and heading into 17, everyone knew there was still a good chance for Lake Forest.
“Hole 17 can be a make or break hole,” said senior alternate Erik Luedeking.
Unfortunately, 17 got the best of the Scouts this time around. As arguably one of the most visually intimidating holes in Illinois, the 200-yard par 3 presented a pin tucked into the left corner (just a few feet from the water). A ridge in the center of the green essentially split the green into two, and while a shot sent to the right is still the safer play, the chip is near impossible.
“I hit a good shot on 17, but the end result wasn’t as good as I wanted… just because I was chipping greenside right, and you can’t really get it to that pin with the huge hill,” said Jack Marshall.
It wasn’t just Lake Forest who saw struggles on 17, though. The top four high schoolers from the leading four teams played it 16 over, meaning the average on the hole for the state’s primo golfers was a bogey.
With one hole remaining, the Scouts needed to make up four strokes on Hinsdale Central to tie it up. Coming off of trouble on 17, no one doubted the Scouts ability to take advantage of slow finishes from many of the leading teams. The Red Devils kept their composure on 18 with such a considerable lead, though, and ultimately cruised to their 7th straight victory.
However, solid play from the Scouts on 18 proved just enough to edge out Loyola for 4th place. Individually, Pat Moorhead snagged ninth place with a one-over 73 and Fisher placed 18th with his 75. Other counting scores included Jack Marshall with 76 and Sam Davis/Charlie Haggerty with 79.
“If the hole was about a fourth of an inch bigger, I would have shot 72,” said Marshall, referencing his lip-outs down the stretch. For a freshman experiencing his first high school golf campaign, this is a sign of greatness to come.
Senior captains Danny Fisher and Sam Davis played their last 18 holes for the Scouts on Saturday, and both are certainly leaving behind incredible memories and moments they’ll not soon forget. Fisher is continuing his golf career for at least another four years as he will be attending Miami University (Ohio). Other seniors who will be leaving the team include Erik Luedeking, John Torosian, and Jacob Trevino. The Scouts are losing some great leaders, but with four players who have had State Championship appearances returning next year, the future is bright for this young and talented team.