When Jonah Buss finally decided he was ready to go searching for golf scholarships, there was one slight problem.
“You don’t have a resume,” he was told by his swing coach and college recruiting advisor, Carolyn Barnett-Howe.
“My typical response is, ‘It’s too late.’ But I said, ‘All right, here’s the deal. We don’t have a resume for you but you have one summer to get it.’ “
The majority of golf resumes are built over the first three years of a player’s high school career. Scholarships are customarily secured during the spring and summer prior to their senior year, if not earlier, and the number of scholarships available dwindle rapidly after that.
It’s the quintessential early bird gets the worm scenario.
Buss did not play on the Kimberly High School team as a freshman, was honorable mention all-Fox Valley Association as a sophomore and second team as a junior. It was not the kind of resume that would get anyone to stop and take a second look.
He had vacillated between golf and his other love, volleyball, and it wasn’t until the end of his junior season in golf that he decided that was the sport he wanted to pursue in college.
“I had a blast playing with my teammates and I just decided at the end of the season I didn’t want my career to end after my senior year,” said Buss. “I knew I had a lot of work to do.”
He would enter 15 Wisconsin PGA Junior Tour events last summer, winning three and finishing in the top three 10 times. He finished ranked eighth in the state and qualified for the Wisconsin-Minnesota matches, where the top 10 juniors from each state square off.
Creighton University took note, and with the help of his sparkling 4.2 grade-point average added to his sizzling summer, Buss was awarded a scholarship with the Bluejays.
“Ninety-nine percent of kids would have been too intimidated,” said Barnett-Howe of Buss’ task. “But he can be Willie Wittmann good (the former Kaukauna High School and current University of Detroit sophomore). He has no fear.”
The most impressive aspect of Buss’ run was he competed on a number of courses he had never seen before against the top players in the state who had been competing on those same courses on the Junior Tour for three and four years.
“For me, I really didn’t know what to expect,” said Buss, who put in countless hours practicing. “I knew the competition would be better and everything but I really didn’t know what I was getting myself in to. It’s hard to say I was surprised with myself. I was definitely pleased with myself at the end of the season and where I finished up.”
With his goal reached and his confidence high, Buss is hoping his hot summer will carry over into this spring.
“I have high expectations of myself to perform, beyond getting ready for my college experience,” he said. “My goal is to be player of the year in the Fox Valley and go to state and, hopefully, contend for a state title. I’ll just kind of take it as it comes.”
But like the task he faced a few months ago, he understands this won’t be any easier.
“It’s no cakewalk, even with the summer I had,” said Buss. “I’ll have to play extremely well just to make all-conference. There are so many good players in the area. But it helps you in the long run. You have to be sharp every single day because these guys are coming for you, too.
“You kind of know who is good and you really have to stay sharp because everybody can shoot good numbers and they’re right there waiting for you.”