Three consecutive days of golf in the month of October can be cold, taxing and, most of all, unpredictable. Three days of October golf at Aldeen Golf Club in Rockford, Ill., however, is just downright mean. With the Midwest Conference Golf Championship on the line, Knox’s women’s golf team came up short, finishing fifth in the seven-team tournament.
Tallying 1,167 strokes, Knox lost to conference champion Carroll University, and (in descending order) Illinois College, Grinnell College and Ripon College. The highest finisher for the Prairie Fire was senior Jessica DeMory, who placed fifth. DeMory, from Schererville, Ind., finished fourth and seventh in her previous two Midwest Conference Championships.
“I struggled through all three days on this course along with all the other conference players,” DeMory said. “It was the hardest golf I have ever played.”
Though she struggled, DeMory managed to put together three remarkably consistent days, shooting scores of 90, 90 and 89. Though her score did not change from day one to two, the conditions certainly did. Calm winds and mild temperatures on day one gave way to cold and wind on day two.
Scores on day two were, unsurprisingly, much higher. Second-place finisher Morgan Zuleger shot a 93 on day two – 15 strokes higher than her day one 78. Eventual conference champion Juliann Papesch of Illinois College shot eight strokes higher on day two.
DeMory’s two previous all-conference finishes occurred at Glen Erin Golf Club in Janesville, Wis. Since the Midwest Conference moved the championship to Aldeen in 2009, scores have gone through the roof conference-wide. Aldeen, without question, proves a tougher test for the conference golfers. Aldeen will host the 2013 Men’s Illinois State Amateur Championship and will be a Sectional Qualifying Site for the 2014 U.S. Open. “Golf Digest” magazine named Aldeen the best municipal golf course in the state of Illinois, and the 23rd best golf couse in the United States that costs less than $50.
Between 2006, when the Midwest Conference moved to a 54-hole tournament, and 2008, the scores were fairly low. Illinois College won the conference championship all three seasons with scores between 1,015 and 1,030. But in 2009, Carroll University won the championship with a score of 1,105; this year, they won with a score of 1,077.
Despite DeMory’s fifth-place finish, the Prairie Fire hoped to do better at Aldeen. After winning the first four conference championship tournaments between 1996 and 2001 (in 1999 and 1997, the Midwest Conference did not award a champion in women’s golf), the team has struggled mightily to win their fifth title. Still, DeMory insists the 2010 Prairie Fire were not short on talent.
“This was the best team I ever played with,” DeMory said. “I will miss this team the most.”
DeMory also noted the bond she had developed with fellow senior Rachel Talpers. Talpers, who along with DeMory served as team captain in 2010, finished in 17th place with a three-day total of 289. It was a disappointing finish for Talpers, who had finished in 3rd place and received all-conference honors at the 2008 Midwest Conference championship.
Though the official season is over, the women’s golf team will compete in two tournaments during the informal spring season, the first of which will be the Monmouth College Spring Invitational at Gibson Woods in Monmouth, Ill. on April 9.