Joe Bultman wins the top award in golf

For the first time in 19 years, the Kenneth Smith Trophy has been awarded to two male golfers instead of just one. The award, typically given to one male and one female golfer, was given to senior Joe Bultman and graduate Christian Ghilardi.

“It means a lot to win this award,” Bultman said. “It is something I’ve known about even before I started high school and something that I’ve always strived to earn. It is even more special to be a co-winner with one of my best friends and teammate Christian.”

The trophy is given to golfers who excel not only on the course but in school and their communities. Bultman won the Sunflower League Championship last year, was the Kansas City Junior player of the year twice, had a scoring average of 72.6 (the highest in Kansas 6A) and has a 4.7 GPA going into his senior year. Ghilardi, who now plays golf at Kansas University, graduated with a scoring average of 73.3 (the second highest in Kansas 6A), nine tournament wins, 54 metals and a 3.4 GPA.

“It’s a huge honor to be up here receiving this award alongside a great friend of mine,” Ghilardi said in an interview with the Shawnee Dispatch. “Growing up playing junior golf, I watched former Northwest alumni David Catt and Jackson Foth win this award. I remember thinking how cool it would be to add my name in the mix with those superior golfers.”

Northwest has six Kenneth Smith trophies, tied with SM East for the most in the Kansas City area. And now, Bultman has the chance to win it again.

“If hard work equates to winning that award, he has a great shot to win it again. He is that good, there is no doubt about it.””

— Angelo Giacalone

“I will tell you, Bultman works very hard at the game of golf,” athletic director Angelo Giacalone said. “If hard work equates to winning that award, he has a great shot to win it again. He is that good, there is no doubt about it.”

Bultman is no stranger to hard work. During the season, he is practicing every day for three hours and during the off-season, he practices five or six days for three hours. He started playing golf at the age of two when his dad gave him a set of plastic clubs. By seven, he was playing in tournaments.

“Golf is a game that requires a lot of discipline and mental strength,” Bultman’sfather, Matt, said. “It is a great sport to test you both physically and mentally.”

Bultman understands that his many achievements are not just self-earned; he gives credit to his coach Jim Bamburg, his teammates and his family.

“My favorite memory from golf was making a hole in one in the final round of the 2014 U.S. Kids Teen World Championship at Pinehurst,” Bultman said. “I had my dad caddying for me and I played one of my best rounds of the year.”