It wasn’t like Garry Zehe felt Maple Ridge Golf Course owed him anything, but the Madison golfer created a truly memorable moment Monday to negate what amounted to a very frightening moment he really doesn’t remember.
A superb day driving the ball, coupled with some clutch putting, carried Zehe to individual medalist honors for the boys portion of the Star Beacon Invitational. He played well on the par-36 front nine, carding a 38, but sizzled on the par-35 back nine to record an even-par 71.
That was good for a five-stroke victory over his nearest pursuer, Lakeside junior Justin Shinault. It was another two strokes farther along to the foursome of Riverside senior Nick Popely, the defending medalist, Perry senior Ryan Vrabec, Jefferson junior Cody Magda and Lakeside sophomore Adam Suckel, who all turned in 78s.
“I was pretty happy with the way I played today,” the son of Garry and Stephanie Zehe said. “I was able to drive most of the short par-fours, or close to it.”
Actually, Zehe started his round on the back nine, and did so in impressive fashion.
“I started on No. 16 and birdied 17 and 18,” the Blue Streak senior said with a big smile. “I three-putted No. 14. That was the only bad hole I had all day.”
The opening of the 2010 season for Zehe was in stark contrast to the Star Beacon Invitational in 2008. It was a day most people would probably rather forget, as he had to be taken from the course by the Saybrook Township Volunteer Fire Department after suffering a neurological incident that is still rather baffling even to Zehe and his family. It has never happened since.
But Zehe doesn’t even remember it, other than what coach Tom Hupertz Jr. and his parents have told him.
“I don’t remember it,” he said. “I really don’t feel like the course owes me anything.”
“It was scary for Garry’s parents and me,” Hupertz can now say with a smile.
The intervening two years have been spent trying to hone his game. Hupertz said he is relying heavily upon Zehe to provide great leadership this year as the one experienced golfer he has.
“I’m excited with the way Garry played today because he has to be our leader this year,” the coach said. “We only have one other senior (Tyler Riehl) on the team, and he hasn’t played before. The rest of our team is sophomores (Ryan Ashby, Ross McHenry, Jack Rabe, Larry Repko and Brandon Smith), so I’m hoping Garry is going to shoulder the responsibility of leadership.”
Zehe said he is willing. He has worked hard to prepare himself for just such a role.
“I’m ready to take on that responsibility,” he said. “I think my driving is the strength of my game, so I’ve worked really hard on my short game. I think it’s pretty good now.”
One of the people who have helped Zehe sharpen his game is Popely.
“He and I have played together a lot,” Zehe said with a wry smile. “Nick really has helped me out with my game.”
There are other goals Zehe has in mind for his final high school season.
“I’d like to make it to state,” he said. “I’d like to play college golf, too. I’d like to go to Ashland.”
But at least the latter matter can wait a while.
“I hope today was the start of something big,” Zehe said.