NORMAL — Dallas Koth wanted to play with the kids one last time this summer. Now, he's ready to mix it up with the big boys.
Koth, who graduated from University High School in May, decided to spend most of his summer competing on the American Junior Golf Association. This is his final year being eligible for that.
While the 19-year-old didn't participate in the first two Bloomington-Normal Golf Association events, the City Match Play Championship or Two-Man Best Position, Koth will tee off Saturday in the Medal Play at Ironwood Golf Course.
"It was fun. I played well throughout the whole month of July and finished out with two top-10s in the AJGA," said Koth. "A lot of amateur golf next summer, I guess."
The low 32 and ties after Saturday's first round advance to the championship flight. After Sunday morning's round, the low 18 in the championship flight only advance to a final round in the afternoon at Crestwicke Country Club.
This is the first time since 1990 that Crestwicke has held the final round.
"I had goals for the summer and didn't think I would play any city tournaments," said Koth. "I had some goals I didn't quite reach, so it gives me another three rounds to try and do that."
Koth finished ninth in last year's Medal Play, eight strokes behind champion Mike Cushing. He went on to enjoy a successful senior season at U High, taking second individually in the Class 2A State Tournament at Weibring Golf Club while leading the Pioneers to a third-place finish.
U High won the Class 2A state title in Koth's junior season when he also took second.
Koth signed with Evansville last fall and leaves for school on Aug. 18.
"I want to be the No. 1 player on that team at the end of my freshman season," he said. "I don't know the guys on the team so I don't know how big of a goal or high aspirations that really is."
After his last AJGA event, Koth has spent some time on the range with his brother, Dustin, who acts as Dallas' personal swing coach.
"Me and big brother are working on stuff trying to gain more distance, tweaking some stuff before I go off (to Evansville)," he said. "The game feels good right now."
Koth expects some low scores in the Medal Play's first round from Ironwood's regular tees. The scores figure to get a little higher in the second round when the championship flight goes to the back tees.
"They have some tee boxes that some people don't know about. They're pretty far back there," he said.
Many of the top contenders are Crestwicke members and could have a slight advantage in the final round. Koth's family were Crestwicke members until he was 10, while he and Dustin Koth joined in 2016 and 2017.
"I know all the tricks (at Crestwicke) and have played it a zillion times," said Koth.
Besides Cushing, other former champions who had signed up by Thursday afternoon were Grant Milling (2016), Alan Bardwell (2013), Jeff Niepagen (1998, 2000) and Jeff Wells (1995).
Those wishing to play in the Medal Play can sign up until tee times close at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Entry fee is $105, which includes greens fees, carts and range balls for both days.