There was no announcement as Jackson Danielowski strolled up to the first tee Tuesday morning at Bunker Hills Golf Club in Coon Rapids. He hit his driver perfectly, dew spinning off his Callaway ball as it rolled down the middle of the fairway.
There were no fans to applaud, either, as the Elk River senior and his two playing partners teed off as the first group under sunny skies at 7:30 a.m. in the Minnesota PGA Senior Showcase.
“I still had to calm my nerves,” Danielowski said. “It was really exciting to get back out and play in a tournament.”
More than half of the 111-player field, playing under COVID-19 state health regulations and using social distancing, completed their round before rain started falling about 3 p.m., putting a slight damper on earlier enthusiasm.
The pay-to-play tournament provided a final round of competition for seniors whose high school golf season was canceled April 23.
That season normally would have ended with the best of the state’s biggest schools competing this month in the Class 3A state tourney at Bunker Hills.
“I was so excited to be playing Bunker Hills one last time that I wasn’t going to let the rain affect me,” said medalist Gunnar Broin, who finished with a 5-under-par 67.
He was on the Class 3A title-winning team as an eighth-grader at Minnetonka in 2016.
“This was so awesome.”
The two-day event will conclude Wednesday with the girls’ tournament.
“It’s nice that they were able to put this event on for us,” Totino-Grace graduate Max Thelen said. “It feels good to come out and play in something meaningful.”
It marked the first competitive tournament of the year for Thelen. It did not look like it when he rolled in a 13-foot eagle putt on No. 4, followed by a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 5. He later had two more birdies.
“It took a couple of holes, but once I got in a rhythm I was able to get in a zone,” said Thelen, who shot a 74 to tie for 10th.
He used his putter to remove his ball from the hole each time, pulling up on the pin ball retriever. Golfers were not allowed to touch or remove the flagsticks on the greens.
“Having the pins in was the most difficult thing I had to adjust to,” said Lakeville South’s Gavin Cronkhite, who shot a 1-under-par 71 to tie for fourth place. “It took some time to get used to that.”
Unlike a state meet, players had set tee times instead of a shotgun start, playing as threesomes instead of foursomes. To limit touching points, there were no sand trap rakes. Golfers could be seen using their shoes to try and level out the sand after hitting out of a bunker.
If need be, they also could lift, clean and place their ball within one club length in sand traps.
“We can’t even give somebody a pat on the back when they hit a good shot,’’ Danielowski said. “But we’re playing golf so it’s a good day.”
Parker Kahlstorf, of Champlin Park, took on a new role in his randomly drawn group: using his cellphone to electronically live-score for his threesome.
“It’s not too bad, but we can’t use technology like this in high school matches. We have to keep scorecards,” Kahlstorf said.
“I can see this being a way of the future, but I don’t think it will be through your cellphone. It could be on a golf cart.”
Broin, who won the 2019 Minnesota boys’ junior PGA championship, had four birdies and an eagle during his round.
“I have a lot of history here at Bunker Hills, plenty of ups and downs,” Broin said. “I was treating today just like the state tournament. I was dialed in.”
Cole Nasby of Edina was just elated to be playing Bunker Hills. He was not a member of the Hornets’ Class 3A state championship team a year ago.
“This spring has been really tough,” Nasby said. “Being a senior, you are really looking forward to your last season.”
Nasby recorded six birdies en route to a runner-up finish 69, two strokes back of Broin.
“This was special to end my high school career like this,” Nasby said.