Throughout his childhood battle with leukemia, Ian Rinken saw Willow Run Golf Course as a sanctuary where he could feel like a normal kid.
The now-Washington senior would chip and putt around practice greens for hours at a time during the summer and even play a round or two with any group that would have him.
Although he’s been deemed cured from the disease for over a decade, Rinken’s battle hasn’t stopped as he continues to fight for those with cancer.
And once again, the golf course he grew up on has come to his aid, this time in the form a charity golf tournament called Rinken’s Rounds Against Cancer taking place on Sunday at Willow Run.
“I thought it was awesome,” said Rinken. “My family and I had always talked about putting something together, but we didn’t really have the resources to do so. When he (Willow Run owner Tom Walsh) said he wanted to put something together, we were really excited and ready to plan it.”
The first Rinken’s Rounds is a two-person, 18-hole scramble with a $60 entry fee per person, which covers green fees, a cart, a meal and awards handed out for the top three teams.
The tournament begins with a 1 p.m. shotgun start, followed by dinner and awards around 5:30. Willow Run will then donate 100 percent of the funds raised to three of the charities Rinken has worked with closely in the past – Make-A-Wish Foundation, Camp Bring It On and Cure Kids Cancer.
The Willow Run Cares Foundation has also pledged to match the first $3,000 raised.
“It’s all about giving back,” said Walsh. “When I read the article (about Rinken’s battle) and that Ian was a cancer survivor, it got me excited because I used to be involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. It kind of blew me away.”
Since being handed his clean bill of health at age 7, Rinken has used his testimony to give hope to others fighting cancer as well as spread the word about how everyone can help in their own way.
“People can help out through pretty much anything,” Rinken said. “This is an example of it. You can help out through playing golf. People can go out and have fun and also help out their community and the cancer community.”
Golf tourney notes
By this time, everyone in the high school golf community is aware that the Lincoln boys walked away with a dominating 13-stroke win over two-time defending champion O’Gorman for the Class AA state title.
What might have fallen through the cracks is just how impressive the team victory was as the senior-less Patriots shattered the ‘AA’ record for low team score with a 596, blowing past the previous record set by O’Gorman in 2002.
“We had the belief that it was up to us to play two days because whoever won this was going to play two good ones,” said Lincoln coach Lyle Pearson following the championship.
■The Class AA boys state golf tournament also saw a pair of rarities on an individual level as Brookings sophomore Kayde Bartels recorded a hole-in-one on Day 1 and Rapid City Central senior Sam Frost sank a double-eagle on Day 2.
Both golfers used a 6-iron for the remarkable shots – Bartels on the 176-yard No. 3 and Frost from 180 yards on No. 9.
“I don’t think he saw it go in, but he was pretty excited about it,” said Brookings coach Bill Scholten of Bartels, who tied for 65th.