Kokomo competed in the state high school golf championships every year from its inauguration in 1932 until 1952. (I found a record of Anderson winning the first annual high school golf tournament in 1927 at Logansport with a score 700 for 36 holes. This was before the ISHAA officially contested a state championship beginning in 1932.)

In the beginning, there were not as many golf courses and some schools did not form teams. Later, golf became more popular and sections, regional and semi-state became standard like other sports.

It has been over 20 years since Howard County has seen a state high school golf champion. It was the Western High School girls’ team in 2001. For the boys, it’s been over 30 years since the Kokomo boys’ team won the state in 1988.

Here is a list of former Howard County Men’s Golf Champions, followed by a little more information for each.

1958: Kokomo team

1958: Dave Grant

1985: Kokomo team

1986: Kokomo team

1986: Chris Williamson

1988: Kokomo team

1958: Kokomo shared the state tag team title with Anderson Madison Heights in 1958 with a score of 317 at the Coffin Golf Course in Indianapolis. Russell Bratton coached the team for 22 years. Playing on the winning team was a Who’s Who of Kokomo golf – Dave Grant, Jerry Jackson, Jerry Ousley and Joe Klein. Grant shared medal honors with two other players with his round of 74. The IHSAA didn’t go to a 36-hole competition until the 1969-70 season when Gary Gant edged out Frank Zoeller (you know him as Fuzzy’s name) by three strokes.

1985 and 1986: Kokomo won titles in 1985 and 1986 at Old Oakland Golf Club under coach John Bingaman. It was redemption for the team as they were now part of the consolidated KHS. The team members were John Andrews, Jon Ousley, Anthony Andrews, Jeff Ousley and Chris Williamson. The Wildkats repeated as champions in 1986 by a whopping 22 hits. The members of this team were Anthony Andrews, Jeff Ousley, Eric Christianson, Ben Carson and Williamson. Sophomore Jeff Ousley finished second in individual competition with his two-round score of 147 in 1986.

Their attempt at an unprecedented ‘three rounds’ failed when they finished fourth in 1987. The change of venue to Prestwick Golf Club had a lot to do with the higher scores. Williamson won the individual title with his score of 156 over future PGA Tour player Chris Smith. It remains the highest win total in IHSAA history. In a bit of trivia, Williamson scored an eight on the last hole or his margin of victory would have been even higher.

1988: Kokomo would win another title, this time under coach Dave Pettay, in 1988 at Prestwick Golf Club. The members of this team were Mark Todd, Jeff Ousley, Jamie Bagley, Jim Ousley and Kyle Miethke. Todd’s 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole resulted in a one-shot win. In case you were counting, that made three state titles for Jeff Ousley and six for the Ousley family! In 2000, all four Ousleys were inducted into the Indiana High School Golf Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

We’ll take a look at the boys’ other top finishes as well as the champion girls in future articles.

ZONE CHAMPIONS

Tipton won the boys’ tag team title by 21 strokes in 1994 at Prestwick Golf Club.

Peru’s Kash Bellar won the individual in 2021 with his six-under par 138 score at Prairie View Golf Club. His winning margin of eight strokes is the IHSAA record.

LIVE UPDATE

Two other PGA Tour players have announced their “defection” to the LIV tour. Top-ranked players Abraham Ancer and Brooks Koepka join Phil Mickelson and Bryson Dechambeau on the new tour. The PGA Tour is planning a few changes to better compete with the LIV.

These changes include reducing the number of players earning playing privileges from 125 to 70. Those same 70 players would qualify for the playoffs. While this ensures that top players make more money, it doesn’t seem to help other players sustain themselves, which could drive even more players into LIV. The just-concluded US Open saw Matthew Fitzpatrick take home $3.15 million and the last cashier to make the cut received nearly $37,000. But those who missed the cut did nothing.

Perhaps the PGA Tour should consider a small prize for those who play in each event. Even $10,000 would help players pay for their expenses and it would only use a few percent of the overall prize. The saga continues.

Until next time, have even more fun playing golf!