WPLA president John Jenson keeps Fischer running smoothly

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John Barry
Saturday, June 28, 2014

JANESVILLE--As president of the Wisconsin Public Links Association, John Jenson figures he spends about 90 days of the summer at a golf course.

The 67-year-old Fitchburg resident handles everything from entry forms to tee times in setting up for the six major WPLA events.

Once the tournaments start, Jenson has the final say on rules interpretations, weather-related matters and distributing prize money.

Jenson started his Friday at 4:30 a.m. and ended well past 8 p.m., as play began in the 72-hole Ray Fischer State Medal Play Championship at Riverside.

“I still enjoy playing, but I enjoy being out on the course even more,” Jenson said. “Knowing and enforcing the rules, running tournaments and being around the state’s best golfers. That’s what makes this so much fun.

“Golf is business while you’re playing, but after that, everybody’s friends with everybody else. It’s like a reunion.”

Jenson has been president of the WPLA for 12 years and says the Fischer is one of his favorite events. He praised the work of course superintendent Joe Schneider for having Riverside in its usual pristine condition, along with head professional Steve Loomis.

“You have to remember that this is not an outing, but one of our biggest tournaments outside of the State Amateur,” Jenson said. “And this is as good of a field as we have.

“And that’s a testament to the shape the course is always in and with the way each golfer is treated at this site. Riverside is and always has been very accommodating.”

Jenson believes the small-town feel of Janesville gives the Fischer an advantage over other WPLA events. He firmly believes tournaments in bigger cities such as Milwaukee or Madison get lost in the shuffle. 

Weather can play a big role in golf tournaments, but it’s an obstacle Jenson always hopes to avoid. Last year’s Fischer was shortened to 54 holes due to heavy rains Saturday. Jenson said players are guaranteed at least 36 holes at each of the WPLA events.

“As tournament director, my No. 1 concern is weather and making sure everyone gets off the course safely,” Jenson said.

“I learned a long time ago that the two things I can’t control are weather and who enters my tournaments.”

The field for the Ray Fischer consisted of 170 golfers. Sixty-eight of those asked for specific tee times. It’s Jenson’s job to accommodate those special requests, which primarily are based on time of travel to and from Riverside. That might mean a late tee time Friday, followed by an early tee time Saturday so the golfer can check out of his hotel and head home if he misses the cut for Sunday’s 36-hole finale.

It’s all part of a day’s work for John Jenson. Usually, a very long day.

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