Finding true meaning in playing through bad weather and heavy competition, the philanthropic and philosophical natures of North Shore area boys golfers were the true winners this past weekend.
As Whitefish Bay coach Frank Donadio wrote: 'It's all about perspective.'
Playing under awful conditions, Homestead and Whitefish Bay played strong golf and raised lots of money for the MACC Fund at the Lake Country Charity Invitational at Brown Deer on May 14, while Nicolet battled cool conditions and diabolical course conditions to win the Bender Invite at West Bend Lakes on May 13.
The teams took part in the last North Shore Conference mini-meet of the season on Monday, May 16, and will take part in the North Shore 18-hole finale at Washington County at 8 a.m. Thursday, May 19.
The race for the championship is too close to call.
Everybody is waiting for better conditions and should get them, but veteran Homestead coach Steve O'Brien, whose top man Robbie Morway wound up as individual medalist at Lake Country, is holding his breath on this uneven and unhappy spring weather.
'We all needed a team hug to stay warm,' he said sarcastically. 'Snowing on May 14 and playing through it. Just beautiful.'
But Morway's golf was beautiful, as he carded an 18-hole score of 72 on the 40-degree day for a two-shot win to lead the Highlanders to a 325 team total, good for fourth in the 18-team field, as Marquette won with 313.
'He handled those conditions well in a big meet; now if we can convince him it's a big meet all the time, we'd be trending in the right direction,' O'Brien said.
Max Pasher added an 81, Joey Hobbs 83 and Dawson Dahlberg 89.
On the philanthropic side, the Highlanders raised over $1,000 for the MACC Fund. Overall, the event had a great tourney with over $60,000 raised this year and over $500,000 total in its 10 years of existence.
'This about competing and playing well but also at the end of the day remembering what it's all for,' O'Brien said.
Bay had a good day, too, taking second in the 17-team D2 portion of the competition with a 327 mark as Green Bay Notre Dame shot a 321.
Gus Grunau led Bay with a 78, while Matt Comiskey came in with an 82, Patrick Sicula carded an 83 and Teddy Weber 84.
Blue Duke coach Frank Donadio wanted the Blue Dukes to understand the true meaning of the event, too.
'We coaches often mention other years of cold, rain, hail, snow, etc. When we put it into the context of what the tournament is really about, maybe that is what it should be,' he said '... Besides golf technique, rules and etiquette, as coaches, we try to guide our players to focus on the present situation and play the next shot and go forward with a positive attitude.
'The ultimate goal of this tournament is to raise money for childhood cancer and other blood disorder research. The theme has been 'Some kids play so others can live.' From that perspective, a shot into a hazard or a three putt should only be a challenge of regrouping to do better rather than an an opportunity to lament and look for sympathy. In many ways, golf imitates life. It is not supposed to be easy. We have to play on from our misfortunes both in golf and life.'
The Blue Dukes also met the $1,000 goal with the help of a full-team coffee sale.
Nicolet took a more low-key approach to the weekend, winning the 11-team Bender Invite with a 317 18-hole total as West Bend West was second with 341. Ben Spector was the individual medalist with a 73, while Mike Carruth carded a 78, Eric Walsh 81 and Thomas Kozlovsky 85. It's the second major meet win of the season for the Knights.
Coach Dan Gibbon said the team started out on the course's original nine, which is now the back nine. He said it is very challenging with a lot of water.
'It's more a strategic course,' he said.
The Knights started out with a 168 on that nine but then made the turn on the front and absolutely blistered it with a 149 as Spector came in with a 35, Walsh 36 and Carruth and Kozlovsky with 39 apiece. Walsh's turnaround was spectacular as he had carded a nine-hole score of 45 on the tough back nine.
'We knew that if we got through the 14th hole without a blow-up, that we'd have a chance to score well,' said Gibbon. '...We had a good finish at Ozaukee (the league mini-meet on May 9) and carried it over into this meet. The guys are getting so consistent as we had three finishing at close to 80.'
Gibbon remains very pleased with the leadership that Spector continues to show and noted that the whole team is starting to show mental toughness.
'It's just a matter of how competitive we want to be,' Gibbon said. 'There's a fine line between winning a meet and finishing fourth.'