After a +1 – 37-stroke finish (two clear of second place) at the first ever WSGA State Putting Championship presented by Meridian Putters on The Dance Floor at Geneva National Resort & Club in 2022, Matt Werner of Appleton was eager to defend his title with the gold putter he’d won last year.
The setup was bolstered significantly in 2023: Multiple circuitous routes and incredible green-reading abilities would be required – skills I did not possess well after stumbling to a +13 score that tied me with several others for 51st place.
With 69 total contestants, the experts at Geneva National and the Wisconsin State Golf Association expected a final score of +5 or +6 to determine the winner, and for most of the way through that +5 prediction held up well.
Then came Werner. “Putting off” in the latter half of the morning’s tee times, Matt was steady as can be, bogeying three holes on the front followed by just one on the back en route to a 40 and outright victory.
The top three finishers all won custom engraved Meridian putters (stay tuned for my upcoming review of Meridian). Matt’s is gold for winning first place, while Phillip John who took second and Ken Bartelt who finished in third were gifted silver and bronze clubs, respectively.
Playing in the event myself, I’ll tell you firsthand that 14 pars and four bogeys on that setup was a monumental feat as Craig Haltom’s imaginative Himalayas-style putting course gave competitors all the challenge they could ask for.
Massive humps, both subtle and not-so-subtle breaks and significantly uphill and downhill putts were all par for the course on The Dance Floor, and it was the uphill setups that did me in most. In fact, I left four uphill “tee shots” short. Each rolled down unintended slopes to swales farther from the pin than where they’d initially started.
The seventeenth was the toughest of them all, and the shortest. A downhill roll from only 15-20 feet, the hole was cut on top of a mound that, if carrying too much pace could roll out 30-40 feet past the hole (I wish I didn’t have to go first on that one! I did manage to two-putt from there, though).
The Dance Floor’s course architect and star of the tournament’s opening group, Craig Haltom, faired significantly better than I did:
Craig’s 1-2 finish on 17 and 18 left him in a tie for 21st place, while our other playing partner, Lance Allan of WTMJ4 Sports, finished one stroke behind him following a day of excellent ball striking and zero double-bogeys.
I didn’t expect myself to be a serious contender, but I did hope to finish in the top half. A few good putts and terrific company left me plenty happy, though, and I’m excited to give this tourney another shot in 2024.
Non-championship golf courses
As I mentioned in follow-up interviews, non-championship golf courses (eg: putting and par three/executive courses; even “H.O.R.S.E.” courses like at The Prairie Club in Nebraska) like The Dance Floor are playing a vital role in both helping fortify great golf destinations like Geneva National and grow the game of golf. As just a few examples why:
- They provide an inexpensive, enjoyment-based golf experience ($10 to play The Dance Floor, which includes a logo ball) for resort-goers to take advantage of bonus golf time on-site with their friends – making memories, settling bets, ordering a drink or two from the adjacent Paloma Cantina and playing fun and challenging golf without needing five hours of time and $100+ to play
- They provide a safe place to play, learn and develop a love for the game of golf for beginners and folks who are potentially interested in the game but find 18 holes on a championship course potentially intimidating
- For the resort, they can make a huge impact on a small piece of land
- They provide the perfect venue to identify our state’s best putter!
For more on The Dance Floor, check out last season’s article The Dance Floor: A Little Something-Something for Everybody at Geneva National:
Also, be sure to keep an eye out every Wednesday for “Wisco Wednesdays”: A new partnership between Geneva National and WiscoGolfAddict that will feature fun, collaborative content on a weekly basis. Make sure to follow Geneva National and WiscoGolfAddict on Instagram for all the excitement!
While I may have come up “just a little” (okay, nine strokes) short on Thursday at Geneva National, it was a fun and memorable morning spent with great people like Craig, Lance, WSGA’s Rob Jansen, the wonderful staff at Geneva National Resort & Club and WiscoGolfAddict.com Contributing Writer Troy Giljohann, who was on-site to capture all the action (all photos and videos in this article are from Troy).
As a teaser: We also recorded an initial interview I think a lot of you will find very interesting. It’s about a well-known and beloved Geneva National leader who completed an impressive accomplishment late last year – one that many of us would love to achieve ourselves but that very few have the time, network and gumption to make a reality… And especially by the age of 40! Keep an eye out for that video content coming soon…