Joe Forsting and Kyle Wille consider golf a dusk-to-dawn undertaking.
For several years now, whenever weather permits, the Edgerton High seniors have followed a similar routine: get to Towne Country Club early for a round of golf, stop at the driving range, break for lunch, play at least another round and then work on their games as long as possible.
“When we didn’t have our licenses yet,” Wille said, “we just kind of got dropped off in the morning and then picked up when it got dark out.”
“Maybe a walk down to the A&W, our lunch spot,” Forsting added during a break from play at the course Friday afternoon. “Otherwise we’re always here.”
The time has been well-spent.
Forsting and Wille were part of an Edgerton boys golf team that was the Division 2 runner-up at the WIAA state meet a year ago.
As seniors now, they’ve got the Crimson Tide ranked No. 2 in the state rankings.
And after graduating, and hopefully another successful spring season, the two will head off to Iowa Central Community College to continue their golf careers together.
Setting the stage
Last year’s trip to the state tournament was the 20th for Edgerton, and it was the fourth time the Crimson Tide have won the silver trophy. (They won their only state title in 2012.)
Wille said last year’s team set an early goal of qualifying for state but lamented that the group never played to its full potential.
The Tide shot a respectable 644 total over two days at University Ridge but finished 39 shots back of Madison Edgewood in the D2 race.
Senior Alec Johnson finished 12th at state. Forsting tied for 13th and Wille tied for 18th.
“It was a good team, but I also don’t really think we ever played as well as we could have,” Wille said. “Alec didn’t really get it going until playoffs, and then once we got there, he almost carried us through it.
“We never had a round where we were just like, ‘Wow.’”
Johnson, Jacob Fox and Cameron Corum were all seniors, so the Tide were a little unsure of what to expect coming into the senior seasons of Forsting and Wille.
“There’s always question marks,” Edgerton coach Terry Dickinson said. “Any time you have underclassmen come in and play at the varsity level … they have to get used to it.
“It’s a little extra pressure to begin with, but they get over it. And Joe and Kyle have really blossomed. They’re four-year starters and letterwinners and great friends.”
The two seniors lead the way for junior Bryce Tate, sophomore Clayton Jenny and freshman Braden Hurst.
Wille said Tate joined him and Forsting for many practice sessions this summer and has elevated his game after playing at the junior varsity level. Jenny played baseball last spring, but Dickinson said Forsting and Wille convinced him to come out for golf and he has fit right in. And Hurst has been a welcome addition after moving to Edgerton prior to his freshman year.
The Tide are off to a strong start, including picking up titles at two Rock Valley meets to kick off the season over the past week.
“It’s early, and we’ve got three new guys that are figuring out how to score,” Wille said. “But it’s looking pretty good so far.”
What came first: the friendship or the 5 irons?
According to Wille and Forsting, the golf came second, at least initially.
Forsting moved to Edgerton in elementary school, and it didn’t take long for the two to become friends.
“We were friends before golf,” Forsting said. “But we’ve definitely become better friends because of golf.”
Their relationship is not unlike many good golf teammates, in that their competitive fire keeps them wanting to keep up with each other on the course while not boiling over into any sort of rivalry, they said.
That mentality has helped them consistently post low scores. Forsting shot 36 and Wille 38 in a Rock Valley meet Thursday in Whitewater. They posted 34 and 39, respectively, at McFarland two days earlier.
Forsting said it has taken time, but they both now believe they can win any tournament they are in.
“We’ve got eighth hour open, so we’re always the first two to the course and the last to leave,” Wille said. “We put in a lot of work, so it’s just a matter of trusting our preparation and going out and playing smart for the conditions.”
On Wednesday, Forsting fired a 73 at The Oaks to win medalist honors at the Monona Grove Invitational. Wille was third at 76.
“Joe, after The Oaks when he won, he came back out here (to Towne Country Club),” Wille said. “He said his putting was bad, so he worked on his putting. It’s just never being satisfied and always trying to get better.”
The two said they started working harder when they made the varsity roster as freshmen. And the work ethic has only grown from there.
“Seeing myself become more consistent, I find that fun, so maybe that’s why it’s easier to practice longer,” Forsting said. “I find it rewarding to see that change.”
Their friendship and love for golf will continue beyond high school. Both have earned scholarships and committed to play for Iowa Central, a two-year school Dickinson said has done very well in helping players advance to four-year programs.
“I wasn’t 100 percent sure if I wanted to play with Joe in college,” Wille admitted. “What if one of us didn’t make the team? What would go on? But financially and golf-wise, it was the best opportunity.
“Now we’re just excited about it.”
First things first, the Tide have some more goals to achieve.
Now that the varsity roster is set, Forsting and Wille said the goal remains to return to the state tournament and to contend for the program’s second-ever state championship.
“It’s all about just not wanting to lose,” Forsting said.
Edgerton has lost just one Rock Valley mini meet during the duo’s high school careers. McFarland, which beat the Tide once when Forsting and Wille were freshmen, is off to a strong start and will make an unbeaten season and a fourth straight Rock Valley title a challenge.
And while Edgerton hosted a silver ball at state last year, Forsting and Wille have actually never even won a regional title. Mount Horeb edged them last year, while Edgewood won the previous two. Neither of those two teams is in Edgerton’s regional this year.
But Edgewood and several other contenders loom at sectionals. The Tide would love nothing more than to close the gap with the Crusaders. Edgerton finished just four shots back of Edgewood—which also lost three varsity golfers from last season—during a tough scoring day Monday at Blackhawk Country Club.
If the Tide achieve their lofty goals, it’s a safe bet it will be because of the two seniors and best friends leading the charge.
“I don’t think I would’ve made it this far in golf without Kyle,” Forsting said. “It’s always having someone to go out with, always having someone that wanted to practice longer with me.”
“Having Joe has made me a lot better,” Wille said. “If he wasn’t here, I probably wouldn’t be playing golf. I’d probably be playing baseball, honestly. I’m pretty happy I played golf now, looking back on it.”