July 27, 2001
Christina Wagamon surprised herself.
On July 20, the Cape Region junior golfer won the Delaware chapter of the Independent Insurance Agent Junior Classic at Wild Quail Golf & Country Club, near Wyoming. She shot an 80 on the 5,153-yard course, including a one-over 37 on the back nine.
“We rode up to Wild Quail that morning, and I played in a twosome with Christine Malkiewicz of Dover. We were the first ones off at 8 o’clock. It was just a beautiful day,” Wagamon recalled. “It ended up being the best round I’ve ever shot, and I was so excited about that. Then they came up and told me that I won!”
Shannon Prettyman, who expects to re-join Wagamon next spring on the Cape Henlopen golf team, shot an 82 for second place.
Wagamon’s coed competitors also included Christine Rowland of Wilmington, the June winner of the 2001 Rehoboth Junior Open at Rehoboth Beach Country Club.
J.J. Oakley of Lewes competed in the boy’s bracket, and shot a 5-over 77.
The best part of Wagamon’s victory is yet to come. The Wild Quail event was the qualifier for the upcoming 33rd annual Independent Insurance Agent Junior Classic (IIAJC). This is the largest junior stroke-play tournament in the United States. Wagamon and her proud parents are now busy making plans to go.
This year the 72-hole event will be held August 10-14 at the famous University of Michigan golf course in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
(Many Cape Region sports fans know that the University of Michigan’s football uniforms are the same as used by the University of Delaware. There’s a sleeve of golf balls available for the first reader to write me and explain the connection.)
Over 10,000 junior boys and girls ages 13-18 compete nationally in over 400 state and local qualifying events for a chance to play in the national IIAJC finals. From the regional events the national field of 132 boys and 48 girls are selected. In addition, top-ranked junior golfers and the top-10 finalists from the 2000 event earn exemptions into the nationals.
When Wagamon steps onto the course, she will also experience a bit of golf history. Alister MacKenzie and Perry Maxwell jointly designed the UM layout in 1931. MacKenzie also designed Cypress Point and Augusta National. Maxwell is probably most famous for his 18-hole creation at Southern Hills, the Tulsa, Oklahoma course that hosted this year’s United States Open.
In 1992, the University began a major restoration of the Upper Midwest gem, and completed the work in 1994. It’s now recognized as one of the best golf courses in Michigan.
Wagamon and the other girls will face a stiff test. They’ll be playing a hilly, tree-lined 6,015-yard, par-71 course, with a 132 USGA slope rating and a 74.5 course rating from their tee box. The boys will also play to a par of 71, stretched to 6,691 yards.
Wagamon will be a senior this fall at Cape Henlopen High School. Her exposure to the IIAJC, the truly big time of junior golf, should certainly help her ongoing high school golf career. At this point, she will likely be the No. 2 player on the Cape Henlopen team next spring, behind state champion Tyler Witman.
Viking golf coach Jerry Dorneman often told me last spring that he wished his players would participate in as many tournaments as they could. He is convinced that tournament play would quickly improve both their playing ability and their course management skills, especially in the season-closing conference and state tournaments.
Looks like Ms. Wagamon took his advice to heart.