Having praise heaped upon you by the greatest champion golf has ever seen was the thrill of a lifetime for South Dakota high school golfer Kate Wynja, but the reason why she’s being lauded was the result of a very difficult decision.
Playing in the Class A state golf tournament, Wynja, the defending state champion, signed for a 4 on the 18th hole instead of the 5 she made. She realized the mistake as scores were being posted to the tournament leaderboard and knew the consequences right away: she would be disqualified and it would cost her team their first state title since 2011.
Obviously today didn't go as planned, but God has a plan and uses tough situations for his glory. Blessed with the ability to play golf and play for the glory of God 🙂 thanks for the all the love and support.
— Kate Wynja (@KateWynja) June 6, 2018
“I knew I needed to tell them,” Wynja said, according to The Argus Leader. “It was really sad, mostly because I knew what the result would be. I knew that I would be disqualified and it broke my heart for the team. But I knew I couldn’t leave without saying something.”
Despite their best efforts, the tournament committee could not find a loophole or ruling to soften the blow. Wynja was DQ’d and her score was taken away from her team’s total, which resulted in a runner-up finish.
“It was awful and I feel truly awful for her,” Dan Swartos, one of the tournament directors said. “I have so much respect for Kate to come up and do that. I cannot say enough for that young lady and how much integrity that took, and how proud I am to have kids like that in South Dakota.”
The self-report has garnered Wynja accolades throughout the golf community, including a personal tweet from Jack Nicklaus.
I love the uniquely special characteristics of the game of golf. Even when it is sometimes tough love. Congrats to this young lady for using golf as a vehicle to teach us all life lessons on honesty & integrity! @TheFirstTee @wearegolf https://t.co/63IISyBdrC
— Jack Nicklaus (@jacknicklaus) June 7, 2018
Thank you so much Mr. Nicklaus you are a role model for many and it is so encouraging to hear this from you. https://t.co/98ZDExNbAR
— Kate Wynja (@KateWynja) June 7, 2018
Wynja was playing in her final high school event. The graduating senior will continue her golf career at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa.