RAYMOND — As Monday transitioned to dusk, Brady Madsen did not have a strong round at his home golf course.
Playing in a league match at the Hawk Creek Country Club, Madsen shot above par for just the second time this summer. After sinking his punt on the ninth hole, he hopped in the driver’s seat of his cart while his father and playing partner, John Madsen, rode shotgun.
When the two made their way to the clubhouse, Brady was met with a surprise and began smiling from ear-to-ear. Greeting him were dozens of friends and family and a large banner hanging from the clubhouse balcony honoring the Raymond native’s finest golf achievement to date.
On July 21, Brady captured a one-shot victory at the 102nd Minnesota State Open Championship at the Rush Creek Golf Club in Maple Grove. He joined elite company by winning the tournament, eching his name alongside the likes of past winners Les Bolstad, Chris Perry and PGA major winner Tom Lehman.
“It means a lot to me,” Brady said. “To be able to bring a trophy like this back to our small community and golf course, it really means a lot to not only me but everyone here. Just pretty thankful that is behind my back and everyone is here for me. It’s awesome, I wouldn’t (trade) that for the world.”
Brady, Levi and the start of a passion
Kevin Hauser, clubhouse manager at the Hawk Creek Golf Course, helped organize the surprise celebration, putting the wheels in motion a day after Brady won the event.
Hauser has witnessed much of Brady’s growth as a player and person, calling him an ‘extended family member.’
“Brady and my youngest boy Levi have been best buds,” Hauser said. “They grew up golfing here, they’ve been out here countless hours together.
“We’re all very proud of what they’ve accomplished. They both were in several state tournaments. They’re both doing well in college.”
In high school, Levi played golf for Willmar while Brady wore the blue and white colors for MACCRAY. Each parlayed their successful high school careers into opportunities at the collegiate level. Now, they compete side-by-side as teammate for NCAA Division II Winona State.
“It’s a pretty cool and unique relationship,” Brady said. “Levi and I have been great buddies for as long as I can remember. Levi played (golf) a little bit more than me, but we didn’t really start playing together until about fourth grade. It’s been pretty cool practicing and playing everyday with each other together and really getting ourselves better, that’s what’s helped me, and him also. Living in college together, it’s a lot of fun. It’s awesome.”
Brady’s devotion to the sport began to blossom when the duo joined forces as part of a summer team after the sixth grade. He played baseball equally as much, but by eighth grade, golf became his primary focus.
“He loves it. The poor girl that he marries, she’s going to have to like golf or like to ride in the cart, because he loves it,” Brady’s mother, Brenda Madsen, said with a chuckle.
Brady has made a name for himself in his first two years at Winona State, collecting three top-five finishes, six top-10s and a spot on the All-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Second Team as a sophomore last season.
“It seems to be a good move so far,” Brady said with a smile.
‘Just felt like another day’
Madsen began his Open Championship play at Rush Creek on a tear.
Madsen carded three pars to open the first round, then made two birdies and an eagle over his next three holes. Pouring in four more birdies and bogeying just one hole, he ended the first day as the clubhouse leader shooting 65.
After shooting par or better through the final 12 holes of the second round, Brady and his caddie, older brother Brandon, had their sights set on a bogey-free third round on the final day.
Brady credited his mental game along with how well he played his irons and wedges for setting up several birdie chances from within 20 feet. He did not stumble in the final round until a bogey on the 17th hole dropped him to 13-under. Fellow amateur Max Tylke got to 12-under after making a birdie on the par-5 18th. Madsen needed a par for the win.
“I would say Dad was more nervous than he was,” John said. “He’s a pretty cool customer out there on the golf course. He’s always been very composed and plays within himself for the most part. The thing that he has never done is blow up if a shot doesn’t go the way he wants. He’s human, not every shot is perfect by any means, but he has the ability to not dwell on that and play the next shot.”
Madsen needed four shots to reach the 18th green, but with a near-perfect approach shot, he completed the up-and-down by sinking a six-foot putt to claim the title.
“I was kind of just in shock that he really did it,” Brenda said while holding back tears. “Not that I didn’t think he could do it, but I knew he was probably really nervous about getting that putt in. It was fun. It’s just fun to see because he’s so dedicated. He’s just a humble kid, a good kid.”
Brady recalled being mentally locked in.
“In the moment, I didn’t really feel anything,” he said. “It just felt like another round of golf. Obviously, there were a bit more people there, but at the same time, I had my brother on my bag, so it just felt like another day with him out there.
“The next day when I got to that U.S. Open qualifier, that’s when a bunch of people who I didn’t really know started congratulating me,” Brady said. “It started to hit me then, and it was a pretty cool feeling.”
‘Everyone feels like they have a little part of it’
Madsen’s victory at the Minnesota State Open is the only win that he has captured over the number of tournaments he’s participated in this summer. He heads back to Winona on Saturday to begin his junior year, saying he worked on his short game the most in the offseason and believes it has greatly improved.
However, as Madsen eyes more collegiate success, his family, friends and community will never forget the tournament that put Raymond on the map.
“To see him take a win like this,” John said, “and bring it back home — which is pretty special because there’s a pretty elite crowd that’s able to achieve something like this — and then be able to share it entirely with the golf community, I know everyone feels like they have a little part of it, and they really do.”