This is one in a series of stories celebrating 100 years of the IHSA Boys Golf State Finals. Click here to view the other stories and here to order commemorative 100-year state final gear and pin flags.
State Championship reflections from Joe Carlson:
Joe Carlson was a major part of two of St. Viator High School's three consecutive team state titles from 2007-2009. As a senior in 2008, he added the Class 3A individual state title honors to his resume by shooting a 137, which matched the best state final score in state history. He went on to golf collegiately at the University of San Diego. Here are his reflections on winning his state title:
Playing in the state tournament was unlike any tournament that we played throughout the year. There was so much energy surrounding the tournament. We always had a lot of support from family, friends, coaches, and teammates.
The most exciting time of the tournament is the back nine on the second day. The pressure is high and you have to find a way to perform your best. Playing under that type of pressure coming down the stretch is one of the most exciting things I remember about playing in state.
One of the things that I will never forget about the state tournament is the downtime spent with my teammates. We would always be messing around like typical high school kids. It was a nice release from the pressure that we experienced on the golf course.
My rounds in 2008 were pretty easy going for the most part. I played well the first round, which put me in a good position to contend for a title on Saturday. The first round felt like any other tournament round minus all the support from family and friends. During the second round, there wasn't much pressure until the last three holes because I got off to an average start and Parker Freiburg kept reeling off birdies. Going into the back nine, Ross Frankenberg and I had a conversation about how we were playing for second. Parker built a 5 shot lead so we didn't think we had a chance to catch him. However, both Ross and I started making birdies to close the gap. Once we got to the final 3 holes, all three of use were tied for the lead. Although the pressure was high, I just focused on what I could do to win the tournament. I'm pretty sure my family and friends were more nervous than I was playing. I made a 35 footer for birdie on 17, which gave me a 1 shot leading going into the final hole. After I hit my approach shot on 18 to 6 or 7 feet, it pretty much sealed the deal. Playing the last 3-4 holes in front of such a large crowd was a lot of fun. As a player, you build off of the crowds support. It was such an exciting atmosphere to play in.
As for the scoring record, I never thought about it during the course of the tournament. In fact, I don't even think I knew what the record was until after the tournament. Even if I had known at the time, I don't think I would have been more aggressive on my last birdie putt. I knew I was playing well, but I was 5 down heading into the back nine. When you are 5 down, your mentality isn't thinking about you playing well. Its more about how can I play better to catch the leader.
That's what my experience felt like during the 2008 championship. It was a lot of fun and an accomplishment I will remember forever.