The Happy Joe’s Jr always signifies the home stretch of the DAJT. Players have the opportunity to show their progress from the beginning of the summer on Thunder Hills’ undulating greens and tree-laden holes. The cloudy day was relatively still, effectively eliminating Thunder’s toughest feature: the wind. Scores reflected the conditions with many divisions turning in rock-solid scores.
The Boys 16-18 division featured some fireworks that the local tour has not seen in years. The brothers Stelzer duked it out throughout the day, with Davis Stelzer draining a 20-foot birdie on the 18th to shoot 69 and edge his brother, Jax, by a single stroke. Ben Vaassen rounded out the top three with a 74.
Perhaps the reason for Stelzer’s success is his tunnel vision. “I played well today, but it’s on to the next one,” said Stelzer, walking off in a manner akin to a Kobe Bryant playoff interview.
Anna Kalb came off a long hiatus from golf in a surprise win in the Girls 16-18 division. She shot a fantastic round of 80 to edge Maddy Streicher’s 83 and Hannah Fangmann’s 84. “Honestly the last two days of practice were not good at all but everything fell into place today and I played awesome. My short game especially saved me,” said Kalb.
Will Coohey played through pain en route to a 74 and a win in the Boys 14-15 division. Will Sigwarth was close behind with a 75 and Ben Blocklinger made the trip from Cedar Rapids to place third with a 79. Coohey talked about grinding it out on a bad wrist: “I knew I would struggle all day with my tee shots and irons, but I made up for it with my short game. That saved me all day,” said Coohey.
Katelyn Vaassen won another event in the Girls 14-15 Division, shooting an 81 to edge McKenna Stackis’ 85 and Brianna Kirsch’s 89. Vaassen spoke of her growing mindset during her rounds. “I’m confident right now, I feel really good. I just want to play well now to help me play well in high school and be the best for my team,” said Vaassen. Vaassen was denied the chance to show her game this spring during her freshman year with girls high school golf being cancelled due to the pandemic.
Ben Dolter continued his charge through the Boys 12-13 division. His 41 lifted him over Bock Mueller’s and Braden Webber’s 44’s. Dolter, whose home course is Thunder, spoke of the dynamic of playing tournament golf at his home setup.
“I feel like there’s an advantage to it because I know my yardages but at the same time, it’s an even field and nothing is guaranteed,” said Dolter
Cecelia Ball turned in a nice round of 46 in the Girls 12-13 division. She was followed by Natalie Fangmann’s 67. Ball echoed the fact that it does feel a bit different playing tournament golf at her home course. “It’s always easier and more fun with my family watching,” Ball was quick to add.
Callan Martineau emerged the victor once again in the Boys 10-11 division. Like a pitcher in the MLB, Martineau doesn’t always have his “top stuff” when it comes to ballstriking. He discussed the mental side of the game when things aren’t always perfect. The short game obviously leads to less strokes, but also getting mad will only make you play worse so I try not to,” said Martineau. His round of 42 edged Hayden Kluesner’s and Brooks Reed’s rounds of 47.
Addie Splinter and Elin Mueller shot great rounds of 49 to take the Girls 10-11 division. Splinter won in a scorecard playoff, and Amber Wilson finished third with a 51. Splinter’s putting was the catalyst for the win today, but her favorite part of the afternoon? “Playing with great competitors.”
The DAJT has just two events remaining with the Premier Bank Classic at the Meadows on July 30th and the Eagle Ridge North Jr on its rescheduled August 4th date.