Kate Wynja never thought twice about self-reporting that she’d signed for an incorrect score Tuesday at the South Dakota Class A girls state golf tournament.
Sure, the Sioux Falls Christian senior had cost herself and her team state titles when she was disqualified for signing for a 4 on the 18th hole of her final round when she had actually made a 5. And yes, her and her team would’ve won anyways.
But there were more important things, values that she learned years ago in this game.
“Integrity is a huge part of golf, especially when you’re keeping your own score or another person’s score,” Wynja told Golfweek on Thursday. “That’s a really big deal to me.”
While the decision wasn’t tough, the result was. Wynja was the defending state champion and was playing her last high school event before heading to Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, where she will play NAIA golf.
She was more upset for her teammates.
“That was probably the most devastating part is that I did not want to let them down because they deserved a championship,” Wynja said. “… They all played so well.”
Wynja’s teammates might have been “shocked and very sad” right after Wynja’s disqualification. But they were also supportive.
“I love the girls on my team,” Wynja said.
Since Tuesday, news of Wynja’s act of good sportsmanship has spread throughout the golf world. Even 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus commended Wynja for her actions.
“I love the uniquely special characteristics of the game of golf,” Nickalus wrote on Twitter. “Even when it is sometimes tough love. Congrats to this young lady for using golf as a vehicle to teach us all life lessons on honesty and integrity.”
When Wynja saw Nicklaus’ response, she couldn’t believe it.
“I am in awe,” she said. “He’s a huge role model for so many golfers and for me, and I’m just so grateful. It’s crazy to me.”
There will be other golf tournaments for Wynja to win. She hopes that she can inspire other junior golfers to showcase the same kind of integrity on the golf course.
“There’s more to life than golf,” Wynja said. “God puts you in a position for a reason and he has a plan for your life, and it might not be to win the tournament; it might be to lose, it might be to get disqualified. You’re put in different positions and use the opportunity to the best of your ability to glorify God.”