Wisconsin is a state that has a robust schedule of amateur golf tournaments throughout the spring and summer, and the crown jewel of them all is the Wisconsin State Open.
The State Open allows local professionals and amateurs to play in the same event, with stipulations to make sure that participants have ties to the state.
This year’s 99th edition of the event will be held at Geneva National in the town of Geneva from Aug. 19 to Aug. 21, and a local amateur will be competing on his home course.
Jonathan Duggan Jr., a 2017 graduate of Badger High School, punched his ticket to the State Open on July 25 at a qualifying event at the Janesville Country Club.
Duggan’s former high school coach at Badger, Dave DeShambo, knows that the experience is a great measuring stick for where a golfer stacks up against the state’s best.
“It’s kind of the pinnacle of playing competitive golf in our state to play in the State Open,” DeShambo said. “There’s going to be some really good players there — guys that have played golf their entire lives.”
With seven qualifying events throughout the state in the month of July, Duggan had plenty of events to choose from to attempt to qualify for the State Open. He said he chose the Janesville event because after seeing his brother Connor play the course in a meet, he figured it fit his playing style the most.
“I saw my brother play Sectionals there last year, so I thought I knew the course well enough,” Duggan said. “It’s a short course that’s kind of quirky, so I knew the scores weren’t going to be that low. So, I figured I could use my course knowledge to plop my way around and beat people that way.”
Early on in the event, it looked like Jonathan’s decision was paying off. After the first six holes, he was at even par and looking like he was going to roll through the finish.
But as most golfers know, it is a sport where things can change quickly. Jonathan Duggan hit a handful of bogeys over the next few holes, and after the 13th hole, his score was seven over par.
However, just as quickly as the rough patch started, it ended, and he kept his score at seven-over for the remainder of the event, which put him in a four-way tie for 14th. With the top 15 players earning a bid to the State Open, the competitors went into a one-hole playoff, where Jonathan shot a par to advance.
Making the moment even more special was the fact that Jonathan wasn’t the only member of the Duggan family to play in the event; his dad, Jonathan Sr., and his brother Connor were also in the playing field.
While the younger generation of Duggans are familiar faces in the state’s amateur golfing tournaments, the family’s patriarch had played more recreationally before the Janesville qualifying event.
“I only did it because the State Open’s in Lake Geneva, and the kids were playing,” Jonathan Duggan Sr. said. “So I just thought: ‘Ah, what the heck. I’ll just go play.’”
This year is not Jonathan Jr.’s first time making it to the State Open, though. Last summer, he tied for third place at a qualifier at Lake Lawn Resort in Delavan, then traveled up to North Shore Golf Club in Menasha for the State Open.
He did not make the cut after two rounds of play, but playing in last year’s event gives him a better idea of what to expect from the competition this time around. With the added benefit of playing at Geneva National — a course where he is a member — Jonathan Jr. likes his chances of performing well.
“It’s a different environment,” he said. “But I’ve got a lot of confidence going into that now, especially since it’s at my home course. Nobody’s going to know it better than I do.”