Sparta's Erickson posts WPGA Juniors win, accepts full ride
To say that this week was a big one for Austin Erickson would be an understatement.
The three-time Mississippi Valley Conference Golfer of the Year won his first Wisconsin Professional Golfers Association Juniors Tournament of the season on Saturday.
Two days later, the Sparta senior made a verbal commitment to continue his golf career at the collegiate level by accepting a full ride to play golf at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa.
After capturing top-three finishes in a trio of PGA Juniors events this season, Erickson fired a two-under par 70 to win his first title of the summer at Reedsburg Country Club Saturday.
Erickson, who’s been playing on the PGA Juniors circuit since he was 13, finished with seven birdies during Saturday’s 18-hole tournament.
The round was a strange one for sure, as Erickson was near perfect from tee to green, but struggled after that, recording five three-putts on the day.
“I played amazing. I hit 16 out of 18 greens. I struggled a little bit with my putter, but that just shows how well I played,” he offered.
Erickson started the summer with a second-place finish in a PGA Juniors event and the La Crosse Country Club and finished third in the two-day, 36-hole WPGA Juniors Championship in Milwaukee at Dretzke Park and Drown Deer Park.
More recently, he took second in an event at Northern Bay, before breaking through Saturday to his first title.
“It felt good to finally do what I know I’m able to do in a big tournament,” he said. “I’ve played well in practice, but to actually put it together under pressure in a big tournament feels really good.”
Erickson, who advanced to the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association State Golf Championships last spring, plans to play in a couple more PGA Juniors events this fall to get ready for his senior season at Sparta.
He’ll also be preparing for an upcoming collegiate career at Iowa Central Community College, a National Junior College Athletic Association
Division 2 school.
Erickson said he toured the two-year school on Monday with his grandmother, Debra Erickson of Sparta, and his younger brother, Ryder.
“I made a verbal commitment Monday after my visit. We really liked what the coach had to say, and his mindset. And he offered me a full-tuition scholarship, which also helps,” he said.
“It felt like home when I was there, and one of my longtime golf buddies, Cody Dirks of Holmen, just moved in there Monday. He’ll be a freshman there, so I’ll get to play with him,” continued Erickson.
Erickson and Dirks, who just graduated from Holmen High School this spring, played together in many MVC matches over the past three seasons.
“We also played together in TRGA (Three Rivers Golf Association) events growing up, and we played together just for fun,” said Erickson. “I think it will give us great team chemistry and bonding.”
While Iowa Central Community College is a well-known sports school, Erickson said the men’s golf team has struggled over the past several seasons.
“The golf program has been lacking the past couple of years, but they have a new coach and the first class he recruited in the class moving in with Cody,” offered Erickson.
“My goals down there are to be the best team we can be and make a run at a national tournament. But also, at the same time, have a lot of fun and make a lot of memories,” he added.
“My main goal is to enjoy what I have there, but also to show what I can do at that level to I will be able to transfer to a Division 1 school after two years there. I’m very excited and I’m looking forward to it a lot,” continued Erickson. “Making a commitment this early allows me to enjoy my final year of high school golf without having to worry about how it will affect my future.”