June 24, 2014 | 03:24 PMA picture ran in the Regional News in 2008 that is a precursor to what’s happened since.
The caption read: LAKE GENEVA BROTHERS Jonathan Duggan, 9, and his 7-year-old brother, Connor, are tearing up the links this summer as members of the Wisconsin PGA Junior Pepsi Golf Tour.
A year later, the Regional News featured a story about the brothers.
“Every once in a while, you see kids who can compete at the same level as adults,” the story said. “John and Debbie Duggan are able to witness that first-hand with their two sons, Jonathan, 10 and Connor, 9.”
At the time, Jonathan and Connor could drive the ball off the tee nearly a whopping 200 yards.
They’ve grown a lot since then, not only in stature but in talent — Jonathan can now drive it 260 yards.
The only thing that hasn’t grown is their golf score. That keeps on going down.
Jonathan, now a freshman at Badger High School, was recently named to the 1st team all-conference golf team.
It’s a noteworthy honor for any high school student, but it’s downright amazing for someone so young. His average for the year 80.75, despite some tough weather conditions for most of the spring.
As a freshman, he broke his previous low score four times including shooting a 74 at Hawk’s View, a 75 at Geneva National and a 76 at Riverside Golf Club in Janesville.
What makes Jonathan, who started the game when he was 3, even more special is that he has been mentioned even more in the Regional News for his academic accomplishments.
Scrolling through the Regional News electronic files, there are also streams of Honor Rolls with Jonathan’s name on them.
Back in 2011, when he was in sixth grade, Jonathan was among eight math whizzes from Lake Geneva Schools, who were winners at the Regional Math Meet. Both Duggan boys took home first in their age groups at that event, which involved hours of after-school preparation.
Both Duggan boys have been lucky enough to be chosen to represent Lake Geneva Schools in both the math meet and academic bowl every year their grade level was involved.
Just last month Connor won first place in the individual and his team took first at the state math meet in Madison.
Connor exceeded the 300 mark in the math maps testing and actually takes a high school math class even though he’s not yet a freshman.
Connor also won the Fuller Boutelle Award. The student receiving this award has shown “outstanding citizenship, scholarship, and community service” along with academic excellence.
Jonathan’s GPA was as stellar as his golf score last year, 4.2 first semester and 4.3 second.
How does he manage to juggle school and golf and his other sport, basketball?
“There’s a lot of time management involved,” he told the Regional News in an email. “I know that school always comes first and that there’s time for all the other stuff once I get my school work done.”
It was especially difficult for Jonathan this spring as he missed more than 10 days of school to take part in golf tournaments.
“It was quite chaotic, but it definitely helped that my teachers were flexible,” he said. “I had golf practice after school for two hours every day that I didn’t have a tournament, so I would always get my work in on the course, too.”
Former Central-Denison teacher, now Lake Geneva Middle School teacher Aaron Zorn, who coached the team while teaching at Central-Denison, said the work ethic of those involved was a key to their success.
That same work ethic helps explain Jonathan’s golf success.
After a tournament win last year, Badger head coach Dave DeShambo praised his prodigy. “He’s been really good this year. His finishes in the big tournaments have been really, really good. There’s a lot of teams and a lot of players who are older and have a little more experience, but he’s gone out to every big tournament and played well. He’s just rock solid and he fights. He just keeps battling and doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.”
Before the season, DeShambo said he wasn’t sure Duggan and his other freshman star, Jackson Rademaker, would be able to compete against the more experienced upper-classmen on opponents’ teams.
“But they’ve been really good,” DeShambo said. “I’ve got a great group of guys. They love to play golf they love to practice. Which makes it a whole lot easier.”
What’s the best part of Jonathan’s game?
“I thought my driver and short putting were really good for me this year, and the driver helped me especially because that always used to be the worst club in my bag for me,” he said.
Putting was almost automatic inside seven feet last year.
Jonathan’s tournament experience when he was younger has paid off in high school golf as he doesn’t seem to have the nervousness that most freshmen experience.
“I stayed much more optimistic this year on the course, even when things weren’t going my way,” he said. “There were some rounds where I had a bad hole and/or a big number right away in my first three or four holes where I could have given up and let the round shoot upward toward 90 really fast but I kept my mind together and contained them to low 80s rounds.”
He even had a round at Abbey Springs where he had a triple bogey 7 to start out the day and had another 7 midway through the round, but was two under par the other 16 holes, including three birdies en route to a three-over-par 75.
Jonathan knows he’s not yet a finished product.
“I would like to improve my iron play, which kind of lacked this year compared to other years. My long irons in particular were just not working for me this spring,” he said. “I’m also working on my course management as that is a key factor in shooting low scores. I got a lot of help with my course management from Coach DeShambo this spring in the tournaments and I expect to keep improving it over the summer.”
While he’s a fan of professionals Steve Stricker and Jordan Spieth, he doesn’t really pattern his game after any individual golfer.
“I mainly focus on making all aspects of my game positive,” he said.
Is he a cautious or risk-taking golfer?
“I try to always play smart, he said. “I will be aggressive though when a pin location is attackable and allows for birdies to be made. Otherwise, I just aim for the approximate center of the green, sometimes favoring the side that the pin is on.”
Jonathan praises Connor’s game.
“His game is always in good shape, whether he’s hitting the ball good or not, because he’s so good at chipping and putting,” he said of his younger sibling, who will be a freshman next year.
Jonathan is excited about having his brother on the team next year along with Big Foot transfer Luke Bourneuf and the returning members of the golf team including Alec Jacobsen, Grant Fogt and Jackson Rademaker.
“Our golf team has enormous potential and is going to be really competitive. Between me and Connor though, we don’t really compete with each other,” he said.
“We enjoy practicing, often more than five hours a day at Hawk’s View Golf Club. We also like to assist each other and make each other better because nothing makes us happier than seeing each other succeed.”