RICK GRAEFE / JOURNAL Zach Gollwitzer of Marquette won Monday's Webster Cup shooting an even par 72. .

Rick Graefe

Come Monday, many of the area’s top prep golfers will take their shot at the biggest tournament of the spring, the Webster Cup. Now in its 15th year, the Webster Cup will tee off at 9 a.m. at Crescent Farms Golf Club with a field of 22 teams all chasing the regular season’s top prize.

Among those participating are Webster Groves, Parkway South, Parkway Central, Parkway West, Marquette, Lafayette, Eureka, Chaminade, CBC, St. Louis University High, Vianney and De Smet. The field is as loaded as ever. Which is the reason the tournament even came into being in the first place.

Lauren St. Lawrence had a vision. He wanted a showcase golf tournament that featured the best teams from the region. The Webster Groves golf coach at the time, St. Lawrence hoped he could bring together programs from Kentucky, Kansas, Illinois and Missouri to see who could shoot the lowest score.

That vision never came to fruition. Illinois plays its golf in the fall and many golf teams don’t travel that far and wide to play. Instead the field was made up of 12 local teams, six public schools and six private schools. Webster won that first tournament, followed by SLUH, Chaminade, CBC and John Burroughs. While the Webster Cup never made the dramatic impact on the Midwest that St. Lawrence hoped, it did something even better. “In our area, it’s the tournament to play in,” Webster coach Cary Morrison says.

When it started, the Webster Cup was kind of a novelty because there were only a few regular season tournaments. It also was played at the Players Club (now known as Crescent Farms), which back then was a private club and a hard track to get a tee-time on. Combine that with the quality competition, and it didn’t take long for most to recognize just how special this tournament would become. “It’s a good field; you get to see where you stand,” Morrison says.

The tournament combines public and private, large and small. Though just a one-day event, those players who shine on that one day are often among the very brightest St. Louis has to offer. The course is always challenging and those who are fortunate enough to find their way to medalist honors put themselves on the map. “It does get them recognition,” Morrison says. “A lot of good golf names have won this tournament. These are kids who take the game seriously.”

Marquette junior Zach Gollwitzer took home top honors last spring. He created quite the buzz by doing so at such a young age. “Over the next couple of years, you’re going to watch them (younger players who win),” Morrison says. “The top 15 individuals get recognized for their ability.”

The top teams get their share of attention, too. Its one thing to have an individual shoot a low number, but for the team to step out and conquer the golf course and the field is quite another. “A great team, that’s what it takes,” Morrison says.

At one point, the Webster Cup was the first tournament of the season. There was more than one time a team opened up the season with a win at the Webster Cup and put an enormous bull’s-eye on its back. “You get a pretty good idea of who the teams to beat are,” Morrison says.