A LOOK BACK: Tipton won ’94 state golf title in dominant fashion |  Sports

A LOOK BACK: Tipton won ’94 state golf title in dominant fashion | Sports


Sizable crowds aren’t often part of the backdrop of high school golf competition, though this was deliciously different.

On a June day in 1994, one by one, the young men comprising Tipton’s starting five took his turn — a moment in the sun, if you will — walking the 18th fairway at Club of Prestwick in Avon.

Zack Miller, the Blue Devils junior No. 1 player who helped lead the program to a convincing state championship with a 21-stroke margin over runner-up Floyd Central, was the last to do so.

“It was a fun time,” remembered Miller, 45, who now resides in Zionsville with his wife, Emily, and their three children. “There was a lot of camaraderie on that team. The best thing was that we knew we were a good team, but nobody else did.

“We had a lot of fun with it.”

Hovering beneath high school golf’s radar alongside Miller were freshman Brian Pearce, the team’s No. 2 player; senior No. 3 Donnie Wolfe; junior Rusty Ripberger and senior Matt Quigley.

In those days, Miller’s father, Jack, was the pro at Tipton Golf Club.

“I remember as a kid, Brian, Rusty and I grew up on the golf course as golf course rats,” said Zack Miller. “We would be in the course at 5:30 or 6 in the morning and play golf all day long.

“There was a comfort level among us. My dad was very open to Junior Golf. He encouraged it.”

The Blue Devils coach, 1970 Tipton graduate Kenny Day, began his tenure in 1982. At age 70, he remains at the helm today.

“To be honest, the five boys who played on the state championship team had played a lot of golf,” Day said. “I’ve taken teams to the State Finals, and some of them didn’t make it to the second day.”

Case in point, two years earlier.

This time around, however, Day’s squad owned Day 1, as all five golfers shot in the 70s on Prestwick’s 6,290-yard setup. Tipton’s total of 306 provided an eight-shot cushion over Jasper and nine strokes better than Floyd Central and Richmond entering the final round.

Prestwick was set up at a muscle-fatiguing 6,885 yards for Day 2. This combined with more challenging pin placements elevated the scores of seven of the eight other eight contending teams by an average of 11.1 strokes.

The Blue Devils were hardly impacted, shooting a 307.

Miller and Pearce both carded 76s the second day, Wolfe had a 77, Ripberger a 78 and Quigley an 83.

“We had such a large lead after the first day, that after holes 15 and 16 the second day, we pretty much knew not to mess it up the last few holes,” said Day.

Not bad for a squad ranked ninth in Indiana at the conclusion of the regular season.

“We had a good feeling we were going to win state after the front nine of the second day,” Miller said. “I give Kenny a lot of credit for helping us stay loose. He kept it fun, kept a routine.”

Tipton boys golf captured four sectional titles during the 1990s — 1991, 1992, 1996 and 1998 — with the school’s other crown coming in 2011. Dating back to the 1930s, Tipton boys golf has made a total of 12 State Finals appearances, most recently in 2012.

Other top 10 finishes were in 1953 (eighth) and 1995 (10th).

Maybe someday a Blue Devils squad will have the talent and motivation to mirror what that 1994 team was able to accomplish.

The State Finals for both girls and boys golf has since switched courses, not once, but twice.

Prestwick played host boys for 14 years (1987-2000), the Legends of Indiana for 14 (2001-2013) and Prarie View Golf Club in Carmel ever since.

Nonetheless, those walks up the 18th fairway at Prestwick remain vivid for the five Tipton golfers nearly three decades later.

Don’t expect them to play a fade anytime soon.

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