PEOSTA, Iowa — There’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition between brothers.
The Western Dubuque boys golf program is certainly enjoying the benefits that come with it.
Jax and Davis Stelzer have given credibility to the Bobcats not seen in years, and solid play behind the siblings has Western Dubuque thinking state as a team.
“They’re competing every single practice with each other,” WD coach Ben Wilson said of the Stelzers. “They always want to play for position and play for something every single round. They’re always competing and always happy for each other when they go low. They’re really happy for each other and all the other guys because they know ultimately it’s about our goal as a team.”
Jax, a junior, and Davis, a sophomore, were dead-even with each other on Monday during the second round of the Mississippi Valley Conference Mississippi Divisional meet at Thunder Hills Country Club. The brothers each shot 75s and tied for fifth place overall as the Bobcats finished with a team score of 311, earning runner-up behind Cedar Falls’ 301.
Dubuque Senior finished sixth with a 338. The third and final round will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 1 at Bunker Hill in Dubuque.
“Our school likes to get into it with us about Davis or I beating each other every meet,” Jax said with a chuckle. “Really, on the inside, we’re cheering for each other. On the outside, you want to beat the other one. It’s fun. We’re both good players with respect for each other. There’s no bad blood.”
That level of competitiveness has driven the duo to play at a high level, and it inspires their teammates. Casey Perrenoud added an 80 and Karson Skrtich rounded out the score with an 81. Max Naumann wasn’t far behind with an 84.
“We’re looking at some of the teams here today, and Cedar Rapids Washington (shot a 316 and) is a state-level team and we beat them,” Wilson said. “Our hope is to propel from this and the next couple weeks are going to be huge for us. We have to continue to play well and score low. Believe we have a chance. Since I’ve been coaching here, we’ve never felt like we’ve had a realistic shot to make it to state as a team, and we do. It doesn’t take luck anymore, we’ve got the talent and now we just have to do the right things to put it together.”
That was the case for Jax last fall, as he qualified for the Iowa Class 4A state meet for the first time and finished 27th. The most difficult part of making state, however, was beating Davis by 1 stroke to make the cut.
“It was a rough car ride home for sure,” Davis said. “It really motives me to play well at districts this year and hopefully make it to state. He keeps me moving when he shoots better than me. That obviously makes me want to play better and do better than him the next meet. I think it’s a good factor for both of us playing together and keeping us motivated. I’m just trying to come out and shoot better than him.”
The unique opportunity to play golf at a high level alongside your brother is not lost on the Stelzers. Even if it stokes a competitive, healthy rivalry on the greens.
“Getting to play with him every day is something I try not to take for granted,” Jax said. “I love playing with him every day and trying to get better.”
And the brothers agree: their ultimate goal is to lead the Bobcats to state together as a team.
“From where we’ve come two years ago, shooting 340 or 350, to shoot 311 on our home course and compete with some of the best in the state, that’s something,” Jax said. “At districts, every year we’re getting there. Getting closer. Everyone can contribute this year and we’ll have a chance to make state.”
The Rams were led by Nate Obbink’s 82. Brady Schiesl shot an 84, Timmy Casey fired an 85 and Jake Woodward capped off the round with an 87. Senior played its best round, a 323, at the first meet of the season and is trying to find its way back to that.
“We didn’t play as well as we would have liked,” Rams coach Tim Felderman said. “A couple guys had decent rounds but overall, the guys were hoping to do better than they did today. Our first meet we played very well, and that’s been our best meet of the year so far. We’re hoping that we can get back to that team score. We’ve had guys that have played up and down, and we just need to put together four good scores consistently.”
At the Valley Divisional meet at Jones Park Golf Course in Cedar Rapids, Ben Vaassen fired a 76 and finished fourth overall to lead Dubuque Wahlert to third place in the team standings with a 325. Linn-Mar won the round with a 307.
Will Coohey added an 81 for Wahlert, while Nick Splinter, Alex Link and Ben Cummer each added 84s for the Golden Eagles.
Dubuque Hempstead shot a 341 and placed fourth. Kyle Arthofer led the charge with an 82, while Nate Kaesbauer shot an 84, Will Sigwarth fired an 87 and Kyle Vanden Berge added an 88.
The final round of the Valley Divisional meet will be held on Monday, Sept. 30 at Dubuque Golf & Country Club.