HOUGHTON - On Tuesday, 13-year-old Austin Mikesch accomplished a feat many full-grown adults spend their entire lives searching for as they pop out of bed for a 7 a.m. tee time.
On the fourth hole at Portage Lake Golf Course, Mikesch buried a 9-iron from 137 yards out for his first career ace. He jumped up and down and generally reacted how any rational 13-year-old would after putting a ball less than two inches in diameter into an only-slightly-bigger-hole from that far away.
Then, 11 holes later on the 172-yard 15th, he went and did it again.
Austin Mikesch, 13, holds up the two balls from his two hole-in-ones Tuesday at Portage Lake Golf Course. Mikesch aced No. 4 and No. 15 and finished with a 76 for the round.
From left to right, Noelle Polakowski, Wyatt Liston, Paul Sintkowski and Austin Mikesch stand at Portage Lake Golf Club Friday. Mikesch and Liston both won their age group at the U.P. Championships.
This time the reaction was just raw disbelief.
"Me and Wyatt (Liston) both hit really good shots but we only saw one ball on the green," Mikesch said. "We ran up to the green and saw mine in, and I didn't even know what to do. It was crazy. Just ridiculous.
"For the first one, I was like 'that's really cool,' and we were just cheering. For the second one I was just all over the place. It was really fun."
Two hole-in-ones in one round - a feat PLGC general manager and Head Golf Pro Mark Maroste has only witnessed once before in his nine years on the job - is a pretty clear way for Mikesch to demonstrate he is one of the top juniors in PLGC's program.
But he is not the only one.
With a junior program established in 2003, the PLGC youth have quickly cemented themselves as some of the top young golfers in the U.P.
Mikesch, Liston, Brett Hauswirth and Peyton Dube all won their age groups at the U.P. Junior Championships this month, with Liston earning the tournament's top overall honor and a spot in the Michigan Junior Championship Aug. 23 in East Lansing.
Much of the credit can be given to the junior program that goes for eight weeks every summer.
"It's not anything special, we are just trying to provide a really good environment," Maroste said. "You can see we are successful because the adult members have no problem with the program. The kids play fast, they fix their ball marks, they observe the rules - they just do everything you want them to do."
The scheduling helps set up the success.
Every Thursday the PLGC hosts a competitive junior match in house, and then there are lessons to be had throughout the week with Lessons Coordinator Paul Sintkowski. The success with the weekly competitions has led to success out of area, with local golfers ranging down to Green Bay and Stevens Point, Wis. to compete in tournaments among others.
"We just put in a lot of work on the range," Liston said. "You just put in a lot of swings to get comfortable with it."
First Green Bay, tomorrow the world.
"The goal here is to have a PGA Professional some day from Houghton, Mich.," Maroste said. "And we want to provide the kids with opportunities in the future, be it college golf or whatever."
For those interested in learning more, Maroste can be contacted at the pro shop by phone at 906-487-2641 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"I'm just proud of the kids," Maroste said. "I'm just trying to help keep them on a path that will lead them to good things in life."