It was a battle of the buddies at the Shoreland Country Club Championship Saturday and Sunday.
Trevor Carstens of St. Peter won his fifth championship by one stroke over his good friend Tim Fischer of St. Peter. Carstens had an up-and-down 27-hole tourney but came through in the end with a 9-over par 71-74-36-181. Fischer, who won in 2015 and 2017, finished with 77-72-33-182.
Carstens, who also won the tournament in 2005, 2008, 2013 and 2014, shot his lowest ever in the tournament. His previous low was 12-over par. He improved by changing his swing — with the help of his competition.
“Tim and I have been working together a lot on our swings and playing a lot of golf together,” Carstens said. “”We play together almost every weekend. It’s one of those where he beats you, you beat him, and you just keep bantering back and forth. We support each other a lot though. Then in the winter time, we go to the simulator together to keep the game sharp.”
He added, “We also went to see another instructor together, and that helped quite a lot, because then we could tell each other what we’re doing wrong while we’re on the golf course. We made a little bit of a swing adjustment, and it made a big difference. That was probably five, six weeks ago.”
Carstens also credits his improvement to “the other members who make the game so much fun. We push each other a lot. We’ve got sportsmanship beyond belief with a group of guys we’ve got out here.”
He held a 4-stroke lead heading in the final nine holes. He increased his lead to 5 strokes over Fischer and Cole Miller of St. Peter with a birdie 2 on the 10th hole in the final threesome.
But Fischer quickly answered with two straight birdies on the par 4 11th and 12th holes, while Carstens made a bogey and a birdie to bring Fischer within 3 strokes. Miller made a par and double-bogey which basically dropped him out of the running for first. He placed third with 80-69-38-187.
The drama between Carstens and Fischer continued.
On the par 3 13th, Carstens made a double-bogey, and Fischer made a bogey to cut Carsten’s lead to 2 strokes. Then on the par 5 14th, Carsten’s drive ended up against a tree, and after he punched out, he finished with a bogey 6, while Fischer made a par 5 to come within 1 stroke.
Carstens answered with a birdie on the par 5 15th, while Fischer made a par to give Carstens a more comfortable 2-stroke lead. But Fischer made a birdie while Carstens made a par on the par 3 17th to cut Carsten’s lead to 1 again.
It came down to the last hole. On the 18th hole, a par 3, with Fischer making bogey, Carstens needed to make his own bogey putt. It rimmed in.
“Today was a struggle with the putter,” Carstens said. “I definitely left a lot of shots on the golf course. I almost missed the one on 18 to win.”
Carstens putted better in the first day, finishing with a 2-over 71. In the second day, he shot a 5-over 74. He was 5-over after the first three holes with a bogey, triple-bogey and bogey.
He played even par the rest of the way. Despite having putting troubles on the final day, Carstens hit nearly every green in regulation. On the first 18 holes, he hit 14 out of 18 greens, and he hit five of the final nine greens in regulation.
He also won the tournament in 2005, 2008, 2013 and 2014.
Carstens, who just turned 40 this year, won his first tournament at age 26. His next handicap revision will drop by over a stroke to 2.5. It was previously 4.39. His low was a 1.9 when he first moved to St. Peter from International Falls.
Carstens continues to work on his game.
“I spend a lot of time on the driving range during lunch breaks,” he said. “
And he also works out in the gym which helped his lose 55 pounds in the last year. That has given him more endurance on the golf course, especially on 90-degree days like the final day of the tournament.
“I have more stamina and it keeps the muscles loose, but you still have to worry about dehydration,” he said. “When I made the turn over 9, I had a bit of a headache. It was horribly hot out here. I need to go slam a Gatorade right now.”
Hulsebus wins women’s
Laura Hulsebus, 37, of St. Peter won her second women’s club championship with a 75-74-149. She last won in 2009. Three-time champion (2014-17-18) Anna Amos took second with 78-81-159. Miranda Bresnahan finished third with 87-83-170.
“I hit the ball well off the tee,” Hulsebus said. “Putting was kind of questionable.”
She enjoyed playing with a pair of younger players in the final threesome. Amos and Bresnahan are recent graduates of St. Peter High School.
Hulsebus, who averages 220 to 230 yards off the tee, said it was fun to see the women she played with out-driving her.
“That was fun to see their balls go past mine because that doesn’t happen,” she said. “It’s nice to see younger girls get into the sport.”
Hulsebus, who was a highly accomplished golfer at Roseau High School (team won state her senior year in 2000) and Division II Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall (she made nationals twice and won the conference three times), said her scores were consistent with her handicap.
Hulsebus, who owns Hulsebus Chiropractic, took a few years off to rear her two children who are now 4 and 9.
“It’s fun to get back in the game,” she said.