“I remember seeing Brooks Johnson walk to the first tee, and I could see him shake,” Koch recalled on Thursday after the Crimson Tide’s practice. “When he took the club back, I could see his hands shaking.”
But things quickly. Edgerton’s young team, led by its young coach, didn’t stay nervous for long.
Featuring a four-man varsity core that includes two freshmen and two sophomores, Edgerton qualified for the Division 2 state meet—to played Monday and Tuesday at University Ridge in Madison—by placing second behind Madison Edgewood in last Tuesday’s sectional at the Evansville Golf Club.
It’s the first time an Edgerton boys team has qualified for state since the baseball team won the Class B state title in 1990.
“The community is unbelievable,” said Koch, who noted the large “CONGRATUALTIONS” sign that’s standing outside the Towne Country Club in Edgerton. “It’s really cool. Everybody’s excited about it.”
Koch may be excited, but he’s certainly not surprised.
A 2005 graduate of Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School, the 23-year-old Koch inherited an extremely young team, a situation that may have left many first-year coaches rattled.
Except Koch knew how much talent he had in returning sophomores Andrew Morrison and Erik Danielson and incoming freshmen Johnson and Drew Pipik. Senior Zac Everly plays as the Crimson Tide’s fifth varsity golfer.
“It was about after the first week of practice, after the kids worked out the rust out of their swings, that I really saw that these guys had a lot of potential,” said Koch, who also coached Johnson and Pipik during freshman football in the fall.
The challenge for Koch was to get his players to think their way around the course and not just bomb the ball, and they’ve clearly taken to that approach.
“It was a very easy year for me as a coach, because all I had to remind them over and over and over again is that they are good players,” Koch said. “They all can hit the ball however they want. It’s just getting their mind out of the way and letting their body do it.”
While the Crimson Tide’s No. 1 through No. 4 order technically goes Morrison, Danielson, Pipik and Johnson, Koch said any of those four is capable of coming in with the team’s low round in any tournament. That was evidenced by the 80 that Pipik fired on a blustery day at sectional to take home medalist honors. Morrison was a shot behind at 81.
Of course, when you start talking names in Edgerton golf circles, the one that always surfaces is longtime PGA Tour star and Edgerton native Steve Stricker.
Koch said Stricker remains connected with the current Edgerton team, even returning home to play in a booster club fundraiser two weeks ago and sending the Crimson Tide a congratulatory text after they qualified for state.
“I’m happy we can have that guy in our corner,” Koch said. “It means a lot.”
Just as it will mean a lot to the community when the Crimson Tide tees it up at state on Monday and Tuesday.
And if there’s a little first-tee shaking going on, well, who could blame these kids?