Minnesota Golf Association

Eagle Propels Schaefer to Birchmont Victory; Israelson Reclaims Women's Title

August 1, 2018

BEMIDJI -- One Israelson surrendered a Birchmont crown last weekend, but another Israelson reclaimed hers.

Andrew Israelson, a junior-to-be at North Dakota State, was the two-time defending champion at The Birchmont Golf Tournament, and he had won 13 consecutive matches at Bemidji Town & Country Club. But Nick Schaefer, a former University of North Dakota golfer from Grand Forks, outlasted him in the semifinals this year, winning in 22 holes. 

Schaefer then went on to claim his second Birchmont title Saturday afternoon with a 2&1 victory over Chris Curb in the final. 

Curb, a former All-NSIC golfer at Bemidji State, was co-medalist in qualifying last year. This year, the qualifying medal was his alone. He posted a 36-hole total of 2-under-par 142 (71-71) and edged Schaefer (69-74--143) and Toby Palmiscno (74-69--143).

In the title match, Curb took the early lead with a par at  the 350-yard, par-4 first hole. But Schaefer birdied the next three holes in a row, winning the second and third and matching Curb's birdie at the par-5 fourth. Curb pulled even with a par at the 183-yard, par-3 seventh, and he birdied the consecutive par-5 holes, the ninth and 10th, but Schaefer birdied them both, as well. 

There are four par-5's at Bemidji T&C, and Curb played them in 4 under, with birdies on all four. The cruel irony for Curb was that 4 under on the par-5's wasn't good enough, because Schaefer also birdied the first three, and he pulled ahead for good in the match with an eagle 3 at the 15th, where he made a 40-foot putt from off the green. Curb had a 20-footer for an eagle and a half, but his putt came up short. Both players parred the 16th hole, and Schaefer closed out Curb by winning the 17th with a par.

Schaefer won his first Birchmont title in 2015. 

Also winning a second Birchmont championship was Emily Israelson, Andrew's older sister. She won her first two years ago in an Israelson sweep, the same day that Andrew was winning his first.

Emily, who concluded her college career at Augustana this spring, dominated the proceedings at Birchmont this year, taking medalist honors by four strokes with a 74 in the 18-hole qualifying, and then winning her first two matches 8&6 and 6&5.

In the final against Minnesota State's No. 1 player, Haley Tollette, the match was tied after 10 holes. Israelson took the lead with a par at the 11th, birdied the 12th and won the 13th with a par to go 3 up. Both players parred the 14th, birdied the 16th and parred the 16th, and that was that. 

The Israelson family now has six Birchmont championships to its credit. Bill Israelson, the father of Emily and Andrew, won the tournament in 1973, between his sophomore and junior years at Bemidji High School, and again in 1979. He also won three State Amateur titles in a row (1976, '77 and '78) and a State Open on his way to the Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame.    

The Birchmont Golf Tournament

At Bemidji Town & Country Club

Men's Division


Nick Schaefer, Grand Forks, def. Andrew Israelson, Staples, 22 holes

Chris Curb, Bemidji, def. Danny Menton, Minnetonka, 4&3


Schaefer def. Curb 2&1


1. Chris Curb, Bemidji                  71-71--142

T2. Toby Palmiscno, Bemidji        74-69--143

T2. Nick Schaefer, Grand Forks   69-74--143

T4. Jim Foss, Bemidji                   73-71--144

T4. Tim Skarperud, Grand Forks  73-71--144

Women's Division


Emily Israelson, Staples, def. Abbie Kelm, Bemidji

Haley Tollette, Andover, def. Annie Nelson, Bismarck


Israelson def. H. Tollette 3&2


1. Emily Israelson, Staples          74

T2. Haily Abel, Arvilla, N.D.         78

T2. Katie Varty, Bismarck            78

T4. Abbie Kelm, Bemidji             79

T5. Haley Tollette, Andover        80

T5. Anna Tollette, Ramsey         80

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