Kern takes state golf title

Local 14 year old sets his sights on making Mercer Island High School varsity

Local 14 year old sets his sights on making Mercer Island High School varsity

By Matt Phelps
Mercer Island Reporter

Freshman Charlie Kern has yet to step foot in a Mercer Island High School classroom but there is one place that he will feel right at home as an Islander in September — the golf course. The 14-year-old athlete has won many accolades with a club in his hand but none more impressive than his first Washington State Junior Golf Association Championship he won in July.

“It felt really good,” said Kern. “It was amazing to come out with a first-place trophy.”

The freshman, who was competing in the 12- and 13-year-old age group, played well through the first two days of the tournament, which was held at Meadow Park Golf Course in Tacoma. His scores of 74 and 75 through the first two rounds put him atop the leader board in a fierce battle for first place. But Kern rose to the occasion during the first day of the tournament at Fircrest Golf Course.

“He played fantastic,” said Mercer Island High School golf coach Tyson Peters, who watched his future pupil’s final round. “He hit the first 14 greens of the day.”

Kern was on fire, hitting nearly every shot and shooting an even par 72 on the day. He would win the tournament by eight strokes with a final score of 221.

“There was a lot of pressure and it was kind of hard,” said Kern. “But I built a pretty good lead. It was a pretty weird feeling to know that every shot was going to be good.”

While Kern has constantly been in the top 10 in most of the tournaments he has competed, said Peters, this was the first major championship of his young career.

“I played in the tournament last year and I think that experience was good,” said Kern. “I knew what I had to do.”

Kern was at a slight disadvantage at the tee, said Peters: “He is not a big kid and some of the other kids could hit the ball a long way. Charlie is a pretty accurate player. Obviously this is a pretty great showing before his first high-school season.”

Kern has been playing for four years and learned the game from his grandfather.

“He has a house on a golf course in Arizona and he would take me out and teach me the game,” said Kern.

For Kern, golfing has become a family activity with his older brother Daniel, who also plays for the Islanders.

As far as Charlie’s high-school career goes, the win gives the freshman more confidence in his game.

“My biggest goal is to qualify for state but I also need to make sure I get on the varsity team,” said Kern. “I will have to play well, I know that. I will be ready, it will be hard.”

Charlie Kern is the second Mercer Island player to win a Washington State Junior Golfing Association title in the past three years. Islander Shawn Tonkin won the 16- and 17-year-old division in 2004.

Other Islander participants

Mercer Island High School senior Paul Mitzel placed 15th overall with an overall score of 225. Mitzel’s best round was his second where he shot an even par 72 during the 16-and 17-year-old division’s play.

Daniel Kern, who will be a senior on the Mercer Island High School golf team, shot a 154 over the first two rounds but missed the cut for the final round. Islander Brian Tolkin shot a 162 over the first two days and also missed the cut for the final round.

Islander Mike Schaloum also competed in the WJGA boys 8- to 11-year-old division and finished the first two rounds with a combined 86 strokes. Islander Haley Chinn competed in the girls 12- to 13-year-old division and scored a combined 172 during the first two rounds.