Jessie Vetter traces the origins of her annual golf outing to when she was a student-athlete at the University of Wisconsin.
As a Badgers goaltender, she took advantage of opportunities given every Wednesday for UW student-athletes to visit the American Family Children’s Hospital and offer support to young patients.
On Monday, 100 people played in the seventh Jessie Vetter Classic to start the week of the American Family Insurance Championship at University Ridge Golf Course.
Vetter said the goal was to raise $30,000 for the children’s hospital.
“The first thing you need is a good cause, and that’s the children’s hospital,” she said. “And (the second is) a fun event, and that’s golf. With the championship coming to town and having an opportunity to golf the course that some of the pro guys are going to golf this weekend, it makes the day even more special. I’m fortunate that people came out and did a lot of good things for the children’s hospital.”
Vetter, a Cottage Grove native, won national championships with the Badgers in 2006, 2007 and 2009 and later won the Olympic silver medal with Team USA in 2010 and 2014.
Her father, Tom, is an agent for American Family Insurance and she serves as one of the company’s brand ambassadors in sports.
In February, she and husband Scott McConnell welcomed their first child, a son named Brady.
Nine weeks later, she was back in a selection camp with the U.S. Women’s National Team as USA Hockey picked players that will compete leading up to the Olympics in February in South Korea.
“I was in a spot where I wanted to get the skates on and see if I could even get out there back with those guys again,” Vetter said. “It was a lot of fun.”
Vetter, 31, wasn’t one of the three goaltenders selected for the national team. It wasn’t a sour experience, however.
“I got to see a lot of teammates I haven’t seen in a while,” she said. “And my husband brought Brady down. It’ll be funny telling him this story: There was about 40 girls that were surrounding you, and you were the man. All of his hockey aunts had an opportunity to meet him. It was a lot of fun. I’ll definitely be supporting those girls and wishing them the best come February.”
The American Family Championship lost a couple of its highest profile players as Vijay Singh and Tom Lehman were among four players to withdraw.
Singh, a three-time major tournament champion, withdrew to compete in this week’s Travelers Championship on the regular PGA Tour.
Also withdrawing were Tom Pernice Jr. and Mark Wiebe.
Added to the tournament field were Mark Brooks, Jim Carter, Jerry Pate and Brian Henninger. Brooks is a major champion, having won the 1996 PGA Championship.
Four other players also earned their way into the 78-player field during an 18-hole qualifier Monday at The Legend of Bergamont golf course in Oregon
Kent Jones shot a 64 to lead the way, while James Kingston (67), John Riegger (67) and Tommy Tolles (68) also qualified.
Dennis Punzel contributed to this report.