Dettmering reflects on state golf title: ‘Never been in a zone like that’
Merrill junior Russell Dettmering doesn’t mean to be cocky. He won’t apologize for being confident, though.
Why he’s so confident was on full display at the WIAA State Boys Golf Tournament at University Ridge Golf Course in Madison on June 3-4.
Dettmering ran away from the field with a dominant exhibition of every shot you could hit on a golf course. He shot a 6-under par on Day 2 of the state tournament and shot 7-under for the tournament to win the Division 1 championship by six strokes. His -7 was one shot away from tying a state record.
Dettmering hit thunderous drives off the tee. He putted brilliantly. He hit an iron from 183 yards away within six feet of the cup.
“It was something special,” Dettmering said. “I wish I could explain it. If you could just flip a switch and get in that zone every time you would. I have never been in a zone like that.”
Dettmering was in the same position last year, one shot off the lead after Day 1. But in 2018, Dettmering shot a 76 on the second day and finished fifth. He learned from last year and said his familiarity with the course helped.
One advantage Dettmering had this year was he teed off an hour before the leader after Day 1, Blake Wisdom (-2). Dettmering was tied with Jack Blair, Piercen Hunt and Nick Schroeder in second place at -1. Hunt had won the tournament the past two years and has committed to Illinois to play collegiately. All three other contenders teed off at least 45 minutes after Dettmering. The Merrill golf standout gave them all something to think about.
Dettmering put on a pressure none of them could handle, shooting 3-under on the first five holes and led by two strokes before Wisdom teed off. Dettmering never slowed down.
“I hit the ball pure all day,” he said. “I felt if I played my game, I was going to win.”
“The wind was blowing, but he just wasn’t fazed,” Merrill golf coach Andrew Plisch said. “His maturity showed. He just stayed relaxed all day long.”
Any doubts about winning, Dettmering put to rest on the 15th and 16th holes. After birdieing 15, Dettmering hit a shot out of the fairway bunker on 16 and let out a “be the right club baby.” It was. He stuck it within feet of the cup. He made eagle on 16. His play had people chattering throughout the course.
“It was fun to hear people talking about ‘the kid from Merrill’ and he gets up and is just crushing the ball,” Rusell’s father, Nick Dettmering said. “It’s exciting, because I built that swing and he played so well.”
Winning a title wasn’t a surprise to Dettmering, but the margin by which he won was a bit of a stunner. When his round got done, he looked at his phone and saw he was up by seven strokes.
“I just had to wait, as anxious as could be,” he said with a smile.
Nick Dettmering, could just smile what his son was doing. He had a golf ball in Russell’s hand just days after birth and a golf club in his hand at two years old.
“The thing about Russell is he thrives on pressure,” Nick Dettmering said. “We’ve been working towards this day and he earned it.”
Couple his amazing performance with the motivation of being overlooked and Dettmering wasn’t going to be stopped.
“I showed him some predictions, one of him finishing third, one he wasn’t picked to be in the top finishers,” Plisch said. “He was pissed. He wanted to win it so bad.”
Added Dettmering: “It was fun being the underdog. Being from the Northwoods in Merrill, you don’t get noticed or talked about much.”
That changed last week in Madison. Dettmering said he had been getting contact from about seven or so colleges before the state tournament. Now, his college recruiter has heard from 40 college coaches just two days after the tournament, Russell said.
“My Facebook, phone, Instagram, they’ve been blowing up,” he said. “I have been trying to keep up and thank everyone,” he said.
Russell got a hero’s welcome into Merrill being escorted by Merrill Police and fire trucks with community members, friends and family all at Merrill High School waiting for him. He blared the song “Pour Some Sugar On Me” by Def Leppard, which he listens to before every round of golf.
“Seeing everyone come out and support me, that was special,” he said. “When I got off the bus, I hugged my best friend Carson (Baguhn), that was so neat and something I will always remember.”
Dettmering still smiles thinking of his run, but he is already focused on a repeat his senior year.
“I am coming after Piercen’s number 1 ranking,” he said, as Dettmering entered 2019 ranked No. 5 in his class by Wisconsin.golf. “My goal is to win every tournament I play. Yeah, those are lofty goals. But Tiger set crazy goals. I am going to work hard to try and accomplish those goals and win another state title.”