BLOOMINGTON, Ill– After cruising through conference, regionals, and sectionals, the boys golf team headed south to Bloomington for the IHSA state finals at The Den Golf Course. The Scouts were smooth and fearless throughout the season, as they conquered match after match to get themselves back to the state tournament after failing to qualify the previous year. Lake Forest relied heavily on its top six players all year long, and they would need to do the same again to hang another IHSA plaque on the East Campus Competition Gym wall.
After an impressive sectionals win on Columbus Day, the boys golf team departed for Bloomington, Illinois on Wednesday night. The team played its practice rounds on Thursday in preparation for the two biggest days of golf of the season. With preparations complete, the twelve best teams in the state, including the likes of New Trier, Loyola, Highland Park and Stevenson, took to the tee boxes Friday searching for the elusive state championship.
The state championship is the biggest stage in high school golf, and for the Scouts, the moment and the pressure took its toll on the players early on in the first round. The team started off with a combined score of plus nine after the first three holes. Despite the shaky start, many other teams were also feeling the pressure as well, which kept the Scouts in the mix on day one. Junior Danny Fisher cruised through his first nine holes without much trouble as his 36 (E) was the best for the Scouts on the front nine. Seniors Connor Polender and Scott Frevert, who had been consistently strong for the Scouts all year, both carded a 38 (+2) on the front with two bogeys each.
While the Scouts were searching for some rhythm, five time defending champion Hinsdale Central was showing their experience and skill by grabbing the lead at the turn. Junior Josh Lundmark had just 26 putts in the first round en route to a round of 69 (-3) which helped put Hinsdale Central in first place after day one.
With the front nine and nerves behind them, the Scouts looked to find their better games on the back nine. Frevert fired even par on the back nine to finish with a round of 74 (+2). Polender and Fisher battled hard as well, but an unfortunate triple bogey from Fisher on the 16th hole left him and Poldender with rounds of 76 (+4). The Scouts rounded out their day one score with Michael Seaman’s 78 (+6), after firing just plus one on the back nine. At the end of a challenging day one, the Scouts sat in third place at 16 strokes over par. Hinsdale Central finished nine strokes ahead of the Scouts with Loyola Academy in second. With the first round behind them, the Scouts went to bed Friday night knowing they would have lots to do to earn their first state title since 2011.
As the sun rose on Saturday morning, the Scouts knew they would need something big in order to battle back to make a run at Hinsdale Central. The first three holes gave the Scouts problems on Friday, and that theme continued in round two when the Scouts couldn’t afford to go backwards. The Scouts opened the first three holes at plus 9 once again, and that sloppy start surged their overall score to plus 20, and thirteen strokes back early in the second round. Knowing they would need a miracle to win another state championship, Seaman, Polender, and Frevert stepped to give the Scouts a fighting chance. Seaman carded two birdies on the front nine against one bogey to make the turn at 35 (-1). Polender battled for a 36 (E) and Frevert was even as well until he stepped onto the seventh tee. On the long par three Frevert surrendered a gut-wrenching quadruple bogey as he finished the front nine at 40 (+4). Despite the crushing blow on seven, Frevert was not ready to give up on his final high school match after an incredible career as a Scout. Upon making the turn, Frevert rattled off three straight birdies on 10, 11, and 12 to make up the lost strokes earlier in the round. With that incredible stretch the Scouts were within reach of the title.
Just like the other four seniors in the Scouts’ top six, this would be the last match for Seaman as a high school player. After a bogey on his second hole, the switch flipped for Seaman as he sunk five birdies in his last 16 holes to finish at 68 (-4). The birdie-making machine came to life and so did the energy of the team. With the momentum from Seaman’s round and the consistent play from others the Scouts managed to tie Hinsdale Central at plus 15 with three holes to play. After a rocky road at the start, the Scouts managed to be right in the hunt at the end. It was up to Frevert, Polender and Fisher to bring it home for the Scouts.
With the title within reach, the players faced the brutal stretch of holes 16 and 17. 16, a tough par four, and 17, a long par three with water left, got the best of Polender and Fisher as each player bogeyed each hole down the final stretch. Polender finished at 74 (+2) and Fisher carded a 75 (+3) for the final round. With the unfortunate late bogeys, the Scouts were down three strokes and it was all on captain Frevert to make a run at Hinsdale Central’s Lundmark.
The Den Golf Course is known for its final three holes, which meant Frevert would have to tackle some of the toughest holes in the entire state if the Scouts were going to defeat Hinsdale Central. While Frevert made par on 16, 17, and 18, his round of 74 (+2) simply was not enough for the Scouts to catch Hinsdale Central in the end. Lake Forest finished at plus 19 for the tournament, which ended up being two strokes short of Hinsdale Central, who won its sixth state championship in a row with a two-day score of plus 17.
For the Scouts, it was a difficult ending to a very successful year. While it hurts to see the state championship slip away, the Scouts conquered so much this year. This is a team that won conference handily, swept regionals and sectionals, and then came so close to yet another state championship. For the seniors, it’s a tough pill to swallow in their final high school match, but in the end this group of young men has much to be proud of. Congratulations to your 2017 Lake Forest Scouts boys golf team on second place in the state and an incredible year.