By Thom Gerretsen
One of Marshfield’s greatest golf moments happened 20 years ago Thursday. City native Anna Acker-Macosko tied for 15th place at the U.S. Women’s Open at Blackwolf Run, one of the Kohler Company and Herbert Kohler’s championship courses near Sheboygan.
I had the privilege of covering Anna’s best round of the United States Golf Association’s 53rd national championship – her 2-over-par 73 on July 5, 1998. I followed her around the course along with her father Darrell Acker, former owner of Marshfield Country Club. He was joined by relatives, area golf coaches, and friends that included former city Park & Recreation Director Bill Landvatter.
While coming off the 18th green, Anna mentioned seeing friends for the first time in a long time, along with a number of other familiar Marshfield faces.
It was one of her career highlights, and also one of her most frustrating weekends. It rained during Friday’s second round, and high winds hampered players in Saturday’s third round as the weather kept scores high for everyone.
The two leaders at the end of regulation, Se Ri Pak and amateur Jenny Chausiriporn, were at 6-over-290 with Anna at seven strokes back. She said she normally gets about three birdies per round, but at the ’98 Open, she only birdied two of her 72 holes – the 172-yard, par-3 17th on both Saturday and Sunday. In her final round, we saw her tee shot land within three feet of the cup.
Afterward, Anna told me that she was getting more patient in general, and better with her long drives , but she still believed her game was not where it should be – exactly what a true pro would say.
This was the only golf tournament I covered in my 43 years in journalism. But, I must say, it was a darn good one. WDLB Radio had no plans to cover it; but after Anna made the weekend cut, our boss Jack Hackman asked Darrell Acker to try and get me in that Sunday – and he managed to pull the right strings. I enjoyed my time with his family and friends as much as seeing a Marshfield golfer compete so well with the world’s greatest female golfers of her time.
I returned to Marshfield Sunday night after Chausiriporn made a 45-foot putt to tie Pak and force an 18-hole playoff on Monday. After doing some early morning news stuff, I was back to Kohler where my black media badge got me in for Pak’s victory.
When I approached the players on the 18th green, I turned around and former President George H.W. Bush was right behind me! “George 41” was at Kohler to help open the Whistling Straits course that Monday, so I briefly interviewed him about his golf game and the Kohler courses. He was as gracious as many people remember, as the 94-year-old Bush continues to recover from his recent low blood pressure and fatigue.