Mission Valley golfer could play in the PGA Masters tournament
RONAN — Dakotah Jenson, a Mission Mountain Golf Course employee and Polson High School graduate, only needs two more wins to be given a spot in next year’s PGA Masters Tournament.
The 19-year-old said he’s only been golfing for five years — a surprising statement considering the amount of winning he’s done since he first held a club.
“I picked up golf about five years ago,” Jenson said. “I’ve had a set of clubs since I was about 11, but I never really played when I was little. I started playing my sophomore year in high school and made varsity, but I was really short and small so I couldn’t hit it very far.”
Jenson said he took 14th at state his senior year, “but if I played in high school like I do now, I probably could have been a state champ.”
And, while that might sound like bravado, you’d be hard pressed to find a golfer Jenson has competed against recently who would disagree.
On April 22, Jenson won the Mission Mountain Country Club’s Pro-Am tournament, turning in a score of 71 in the amateur category. Had he been playing as a pro, he would have tied for first place.
Jenson then traveled to Whitefish Lake Golf Club to play in their Pro-Am. He took second place in the amateur category and would have tied for second as a pro, shooting 71 and besting more than 90 competitors and at least 18 pros.
He’d never played the course and finished one under par.
Next was the Ben Graham Memorial Tournament in Libby. His first two day tournament, Jenson hadn’t played the course in five years and still managed to finish the tournament one under par. He took first place out of 81 competitors.
“It was pretty awesome,” Jenson said. “I had a couple bad holes the first day, but I ended the day one under par. The second day I shot even to win it by one over one of the guys up there whose been playing the course for years. That was pretty cool.”
Cabinet View Golf Club pro Jeff Dooley said that while he’s never played with Jenson, he got the impression that he was a “really nice kid and he hits it a long ways.”
“He seems like he’s well composed out there and the pressure really doesn’t get to him,” Dooley said.
Brian Grosswiler is the head golf professional and general manager at Mission Mountain Country Club. He’s known Jenson for the past two years.
“People really like him,” Grosswiler said. “He’s really personable and outgoing. He’s a good worker, and he works hard on his game. He’s constantly working on his game, and in order to succeed that’s what he needs to do.
“He’s just a good kid. I can’t say anything bad about him. I like him, he’s got a great personality, he’s good with people and he’s dedicated to what he’s trying to accomplish. I hope he makes it.”
And “making it” for Jenson means turning his passion for golf into a profession — something he is well on his way to accomplishing.
“Next is the Public Links Amateur Tournament,” Jenson said. “It’s 36 holes at Mission Mountain, but there’s only 10 competitors so I have pretty good odds. If I win that, I go over to Virginia for the championship. That’s a four day tournament, so if I win that I get to play in the Masters next year. That would be awesome and that’s my goal for the year.”
Jenson said he plans to go to Walla Walla, Wash., in the fall to participate in the PGA program at a local school. However, if he wins the Public Links tournament he’s probably going to go pro that way.
“I’m not much into school,” he said. “I just want to play.”
Helping him to reach these lofty goals is Jenson’s father and caddy, Shaun Jenson. While Shaun says he’s a good golfer, he admits he’s not nearly as good as Dakotah.
“(Dakotah) has never had any lessons, so it’s all been on his own,” Shaun said. “He’s got a lot of dedication and he works hard, and I love being with my family and kids. There are times when it’s challenging because he’ll have a bad shot and you have to ground him a little bit just so it doesn’t carry over to the next hole, but I love it. It’s fun.”
Dakotah agreed, saying that while the two sometimes butt heads, having his dad as a caddy is a big plus.
“He talks me out of some situations,” Jenson said. “Some holes I don’t need to hit a driver, so he’ll tell me to just get up and hit a three wood. If I hit a bad shot, he tells me just to go up and hit the next shot better. He tries to keep me focused on making birdies and hitting good shots.”
Shaun said he plans to continue caddying for his son if he turns pro.
“If he becomes a pro, he can start paying his dad,” Shaun said with a laugh.
Dakotah agreed, saying he hopes his dad will continue caddying for him when he turns pro.
“That would be pretty awesome,” he said.