The Glenbard East and Lake Park girls golf teams enjoyed a brush with greatness.
The teams play an annual nonconference dual match, and before the round on Sept. 18 Lake Park coach Jeff Henrikson called Glenbard East coach Scott Miller to ask if they'd like to play at Medinah Country Club, which hosted the 2012 Ryder Cup, two PGA Championships, three U.S. Opens and three Western Opens.
"Shoot yeah, we'll play Medinah," said Miller, no dummy.
Coincidentally, on that same day professional star Bubba Watson was at Medinah to collect a company's large donation for hurricane relief. Watson has nine PGA Tour wins and owns a No. 75 FedEx Cup rank, with four top-10 finishes and winnings of $1,223,129 in 2017.
Medinah employees tried to keep Watson separate from the masses, but Miller said the Lake Park and Glenbard East golfers "somehow kind of sneaked through" to talk with him and snap a few pictures.
"It wasn't one of those deals where he was trying to get away from them. He was really, really nice," Miller said.
So nice it overshadowed Lake Park winning the match.
"I'm definitely a big Bubba Watson fan now," Miller said.
Sept. 18 was a big day for donating at the links. At Cress Creek Country Club in Naperville, the Naperville North and Naperville Central boys golf teams played their annual match to benefit the Swifty Foundation, which funds research for pediatric brain cancer.
The Swifty Foundation was started in memory of Naperville North student and golf team member Michael "Swifty" Gustafson, who died in 2013. The foundation's Facebook page states it's raised $1 million, all of that money going to research. Among the fund's many contributors are Waubonsie Valley and Neuqua Valley high schools.
On sponsorships earned by the Naperville North and Naperville Central golfers, the Sept. 18 match raised more than $4,500 for the Swifty Foundation. That brings the total to about $15,000, said Huskies golf coach Ryan Hantak.
(The 2016 event raised around $4,000 toward the #JWEGSTRONG Foundation benefiting 2015 Naperville Central graduate Justin Wegner, a student-athlete diagnosed with a rare type of cancer. Wegner, who caught 22 games as a freshman at Wisconsin-Whitewater, returned to college classes just last week.)
Covering the charity round at Cress Creek, Daily Herald correspondent D.J. Wanberg wrote that varsity and junior varsity players were grouped together, and "friends were grouped with friends even though they might wear a different color uniform."
On the bag
David Flynn is in his sweet spot.
We caught up to the 2010 Wheaton Academy graduate and 2008 Class 2A boys golf medalist on Tuesday as he spoke, hopefully hands-free, while driving between Orlando and Jacksonville, Florida. He was gearing up for the Web.com Tour Championship in Atlantic Beach from Thursday through Sunday -- not as a player, as the caddie for professional Trey Mullinax.
Ranked No. 137 out of 200 on the FedEx Cup chart, Mullinax is angling for a strong finish to enhance his standing on the larger tour.
"We're trying to improve that number because the higher number" -- closer to 1 -- "the more tourneys you can get into on the PGA," said Flynn, Mullinax's caddie since January 2016.
The duo enjoyed that rarefied air in June at the U.S. Open at Erin Hills, Wisconsin, where Mullinax's ninth-place tie earned a $279,524 payday.
"The U.S. Open was the biggest moment of my career," Flynn said.
Flynn said his top contribution came on the final day, helping the fellow 25-year-old judge the wind on "an awkward little par-3." After the duo waited 15 minutes for a ruling to be made on a lie from a ball struck by Sergio Garcia, Mullinax recorded his second straight par.
"I don't want to give myself too much credit," Flynn said. "Trey hit the ball really well that week. The reality of caddying is it's still on him."
Flynn knows both sides. After Wheaton Academy, where he finished in the top seven of Class 2A three straight years, he briefly attended Carleton College before high school teammate Blake Biddle coaxed him to take an open spot on the Nevada-Las Vegas team.
Flynn played there slightly more than two years before returning to caddying, which as a teen he did a little at Butler National Golf Club and a lot at Evanston Golf Club. The intersection of not playing very well, not having much fun and a desire to make money led Flynn to leave the team to caddie for a UNLV teammate who went pro, Kevin Penner.
"The truth is it was the right decision. I'm still doing it four years later," Flynn said.
He spends about 30 weeks a year on the road. He's married to Wheaton Academy graduate Olivia Tilly, who thinks her husband nuts when he returns home to Geneva, then turns around to carry bags at a local course.
"There's just something I love about it," he said. "I still love going back to club caddying. Even in my off weeks, there's something very therapeutic about it."
To echo the Illinois High School Association we're proud that Daily Herald correspondent Bill Stone is among the fifth class of recipients of the IHSA Distinguished Media Service Award. Joining Bill will be The Herald-News sports editor Dick Goss and WXEF Radio's Greg Sapp.
In the inaugural class of 2013-14 the IHSA honored retired Daily Herald sports writer and columnist Bob Frisk; current Daily Herald Fox Valley sports editor John Radtke was recognized the following year.
A 1983 graduate of Wheaton Central, Stone uses wit, humor, compassion, curiosity and encyclopedic knowledge to tirelessly, seamlessly cover any number of sports. One interesting nugget over Stone's four-decade career: He covered retired St. Francis girls volleyball coach Peg Kopec's first state title in 1988 and her last in 2015.
The IHSA cited Stone's "greatest impact" in his work covering gymnastics. That includes establishing the State Gymnastics Stats website -- cofounded with former Daily Herald sports writer Mike Considine, now covering preps in Texas -- which posts results from around the state and is a resource to athletes, coaches, judges and the IHSA itself.
Fittingly, Stone will be recognized for the Distinguished Media Service Award at both the girls state gymnastics finals and the boys finals in 2018.