Brooke Knutson has had a season full of great memories during the 2017 Westby/Viroqua girls golf season.
Highlights include becoming the first Westby/Viroqua player to shoot an even par 9-hole round, a 35 at the Walnut Grove Course, the first Westby/Viroqua player to earn Coulee Conference Player of the Year honors, a first team All-Coulee-Conference selection, winning three consecutive medalist honors at Coulee meets, never finishing lower than third in any competition this fall, helping the Westby/Viroqua team qualify for the WIAA team sectionals and qualifying for the individual portion of the WIAA Division 1 state tournament.
Her final competition at the WIAA state tournament on Oct. 9 and 10, however, is one she may choose to quickly forget, scoring a respectable 87 in the opening 18 holes on Monday, but then struggling to an uncharacteristic 98 on Tuesday for an 18-hole total of 185 at the University Ridge Course in Madison.
Knutson advanced to the state tournament firing the best 18-hole score of her career, with an 81, at the Division 1 sectionals held at The Ridges Course in Wisconsin Rapids on Oct. 2. After qualifying for the state competition, the VHS senior said, “I really want to say thank you to the community, everyone at the school, my parents and grandparents, friends and especially the the Viroqua athletic boosters and the Viroqua Hills Golf Course…they have all been there giving me a lot of support.”
Following the season full of individual accomplishments Knutson shared these reflections, “I have my family to thank for my love of the game of golf, whether it’s my parents or grandparents…at first I played to have fun…I only started getting serious when I was 12 or 13 years old…I started practicing a lot after that. My freshman year I had to play on the guys team (Viroqua did not have a girls team and had not joined forces with Westby yet) and I beat a couple of guys for a varsity spot.”
“Earning player of the year for the conference (and qualifying for the state tournament) has helped me realize that hard work really does pay off,” Knutson said. “Over the past few years I have set goals for myself, like I will take 10 strokes off my score’ or’ I will try to shoot at least half of the greens in regulation,’ I never set individual goals like winning conference (or going to state) as a goal until I knew my game was getting good.”
The 5-foot 2-inch Knutson, who credits her short stature for better control of her swing, could be seen at the Viroqua Hills Golf Course nearly every day this past spring and summer working on her game, and also giving lessons to young golfers as a part of the Viroqua summer recreation program.
When asked what attribute was a key to Knutson’s success this season, coach Heidi Hubatch said, “The decisions she makes on the course, knowing her club selections, knowing how far she can hit each club…she has an astounding knowledge of her clubs.”
The Westby and Viroqua programs have struggled with numbers of golfers participating in recent years and when asked what she would say to young girls considering trying the sport Knutson said, “You play golf not to get each other, it’s not really about beating someone else…you are there to make friends…it’s a lot more social than other sports, it has really improved my social capability.”