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Hesteness nabs first Mid-Am medalist laurels

Otis Hesteness became the first-ever Pine to Palm Mid-Am medalist in 2009, firing a three-over par 145 in qualifying play.

Otis Hesteness made a wise decision when Pine to Palm chairman Bob Gorden asked him to play in the first-ever Mid-Am Division for the Pine to Palm Golf Tournament.

Instead of mowing the fairways on the back nine at the Detroit Country Club, Hesteness was mowing down the competition during the first Mid-Am qualifier, stroking a 72-73 for a three-over par 145 to capture the medalist honors Tuesday.

"I was on the practice putting green one day and (Pine to Palm chairman) Bob (Gorden) came up to me and asked if I'm finally going to play in the Pine to Palm, since it added the Mid-Am Division," Hesteness said. "It was a perfect fit for me and it worked out well."

Hesteness credited his putter for holding strong through the two days of qualifying, but the key to his two rounds was being able to recover from a "disastrous" sixth hole, where he had triple bogey.

Ironically, the only other time Hesteness played in the Pine to Palm was in 1973, where he just missed the cut after shooting an 81.

But it was the sixth hole which sunk him, after he shot a 12 on it.

"I was one-under after five and my ball found a divot on the sixth hole," Hesteness said. "I bladed it and ended up with a seven. But then I was able to birdie 10 and 12 and I was back in it."

After Hesteness' 72 Monday, he had the opportunity to play with the lead group of Jay Olafson, Todd Schaefer and Scott McNealy.

"It was a great group to play with, they are some good golfers," Hesteness added.

The DCC maintenance worker was actually three strokes down to McNealy at the turn, but Hesteness was able to stay out of trouble while the rest of his group found some roughs and higher scores on the back nine.

"I guess the key was that I was able to hold it together after six," Hesteness said. "It's great (being the medalist) because there are a lot of great names playing in this division. It's good to know that I have Wednesday off before (Thursday's) match play.

"Maybe I'll go see if the walleyes are biting."

The field of 16 was set after 22 Mid-Am golfers tried their luck at qualifying.

One Detroit Lakes golfer and longtime Pine to Palm competitor, Aaron Burnside, has been waiting for the addition of a Mid-Am Division for quite sometime.

Now that it's a fixture in the Pine to Palm, Burnside feels it will flourish in the future.

"A lot of guys are just waiting to see how things work out, because there are a lot of unknowns," said Burnside, who made the cut tied for eighth with a 75-79 -- 154. "But after they see the cut this year, I can see it growing. I think having a field of 16 is a huge attraction. Bob Gorden did it right."

Burnside added another attraction is how the Mid-Am is being treated by the Pine to Palm committee.

"I saw the trophies and what we are playing for and it's just the same type of (hardware) like Championship and Seniors," he said. "I expect to see the Mid-Am double in its numbers. There should be no reason it can't hit 40 to 50 golfers in the future."

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.