The Mike Bencriscutto Junior Masters
As the consummate golf professional, he envisioned an event that would rival the finest junior tournament anywhere.
The Mike Bencriscutto Junior Masters Golf Tournament was started in 1974 as the dream of its founder, the late Mike Bencriscutto. Disturbed that the availability to compete in junior tournaments strongly favored junior golfers with country club affiliations, Mike was determined to do something about it. To make his dream materialize, Mike enlisted the assistance and commitment of eight knowledgeable and very capable players themselves who shared his dedication and enthusiasm for junior golf. These eight individuals were a perfect fit to assure that the tournament would be successful. Their challenge was to promote the program to local business leaders and get their financial support. After nearly two years of intense effort, Mike and his select board had their financial support and a host of volunteers standing by to inaugurate what was then known as the Wisconsin Junior Masters Championship.Mike and his committee were uniquely qualified to structure a tournament for the juniors. Nearly all of these individuals had learned to play under Mike’s tutelage and were very experienced players that had won many tournaments statewide. Today, the success of the tournament lives on through the loyal dedication of five of these original committee members. These members include George Madsen, Bruce Hansen, Paul Loth, John Feiner, and the chairman Tom Feiner. Several additional directors were added to the board ( all former Junior Masters competitors) to assist Chairman Tom Feiner in continuing the high standards of the tournament. A very good amateur golfer for many years, Tom was Mike’s hand-picked choice to succeed him as chairman.
This format was designed to test not only ones golfing skills, but their endurance as a player as well.The format of the Junior Masters was designed to offer the juniors a maximum number of rounds for the cost of their entry fee. The board decided that the best way to do this was to have a 36-hole qualifying onMonday and Tuesday and then begin the match play on Wednesday. By the end of the final match on Friday the finalists have played a total of 36 holes of medal play qualifying, and six 18-hole match play rounds. Today, the Junior Masters is as strong as ever with 200 plus entries filled nearly two months before the tournament’s deadline date. Since the Junior Masters is a statewide open tournament, it follows that the division winners rank among the best junior golfers in the state. While many of these young players have continued to play outstanding golf after the Junior Masters, at least four, Steve Stricker, Skip Kendall, J.P. Hayes, and Jerry Kelly are making their mark on the PGA Tour.
With the continued support and generosity of the many volunteers and donators, the board of directors trusts the Mike Bencriscutto Junior Masters Championship will remain a prestigious and successful event for many years to come.