My Golf Story
Born and raised in Saline, MI, I began playing golf at a very early age. By age two, my dad, Dave, had already cut down real clubs for me that I would use everyday in the backyard. From that point onward, my love for the game only increased. It started out as just a fun thing to do with my dad, but after a while, I started to develop a deeper passion for the game and competitive golf after competing in junior events and playing in scrambles with my dad and uncles.
Once I got to high school, I really started to get the competitive golf itch. Up to this point, I had been fairly successful in junior tournaments, but came to the realization that there were so many kids as good or better than me. After underachieving during my first two years of high school, I made significant improvements during my junior year. As a result, I accomplished one of my goals, receiving all-state honors.
During the summer before my senior year, I began looking towards the future and the possibility of playing college golf at the Division I or Division II level. Over the summer and during the course of my senior year, I sent out letters to coaches, anxiously awaiting responses. Unfortunately for me, I learned a little too late that most schools had already finished their recruiting for my class. Consequentially, my letters were ignored almost entirely, with a few schools who had the courtesy to respond to let me know that their rosters were full.
After deciding that DI or DII college golf was likely not going to happen for me (at least right away), my parents and I decided that it was time to focus on my academic future. When the time to apply to colleges came around, I applied to most of the in-state schools, hoping desperately that I would get in to my dream school of U of M. However, I received a letter saying that I was on the waiting list, and as the weeks went by, it looked unlikely that I would receive admission. As a result, I ended up enrolling in orientation at GVSU. However, just a few days later, I received an email saying that I was accepted to enroll in the Nursing School for the Fall 2014 semester at the University of Michigan. It was one of the happiest days of my life.
During the summer leading up to my first semester of college, I played better golf than I ever had before. I qualified for the Michigan Amateur for the first time, made it to match play, and took down the defending champion/number one seed in the Round of 32. In addition to making it to the Sweet 16 that summer, I also qualified for the prestigious Big I National Championship, where I won the long-drive contest. After these performances, I thought that I might receive an opportunity for a walk-on tryout when I arrived to U of M. However, no such opportunity came.
After not receiving a walk-on tryout, I decided that I would tryout for the U of M club golf team, which I had found out about online. I played mediocre during the first qualifier, but well enough to be invited to play again. However, I was extremely sick the night before the second round of qualifying, and was unable to make it to the course. Despite letting the president of the team know of my situation, I was told that it was not a good enough excuse. My chances of playing college golf at any level at U of M were over for at least another year.
For the next five months, I touched a golf club maybe once or twice. This was unprecedented for me, but gave me a chance to enjoy the freedoms of college and handle all of the new responsibilities that came with being a student at one of the most prestigious universities in the world. This said, I knew in the back of my mind that the itch to play competitive golf was growing and that my competitive golf career was far from over.
My freshman year of college was a big learning period for me. In addition to having a lot of new responsibilities, I began to learn a lot about myself and what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. After beginning my clinical during my second semester, I came to the conclusion that nursing was not the right path for me personally. Luckily, my grades were good enough that I wouldn't have an issue of transferring into other departments at U of M, which was my original plan going forward...
That is, until I played in a scramble with Brett, who was the assistant coach at Siena Heights University, an NAIA school. My dad had met him at a bar a few weeks prior, found out he was a good player, and invited him to play with us. During the scramble, I played like I had been practicing everyday over the winter, and he offered me a chance to play on the SHU team on the spot. After a tough decision making process, I decided to take the offer, knowing that I could always transfer if I did not like my experience there.
Going into my first semester at SHU, I was extremely excited about the chance to compete on the college stage. They had a team of really solid players when I arrived, and adding me helped solidify the starting lineup. As the season began, I really did not have specific expectations other than trying to win every event that I tee'd it up in. During the first event of the year, we broke the team scoring record, getting us off to a hot start. Throughout the rest of the season, I played extremely well, and ultimately ended up leading the team to its first WHAC Regular Season Title in school history. Additionally, I received WHAC Player of the Year and WHAC Newcomer of the Year honors while tallying a 72.3 scoring average. The season went better than I could've ever hoped.
Despite the success, I was really not enjoying the rest of my experience at SHU, and basically went to see my U of M friends every weekend. I knew it was going to be a big change going from a huge school like Michigan to a very small school like Siena Heights, but I was unable to learn to love the academic and social differences. Additionally, my performance that fall gave me hopes that a DI or DII school might take a chance on me.
Over the winter, I began contacting schools again, hoping that I might receive a chance to walk-on somewhere. Like deja vu, I again received almost no response. The only opportunity that presented itself was a chance to walk-on at Eastern Michigan, which I would've taken had I not had to wait an additional year to do so. After another tough decision making process, I decided that it was in my best interest to return to Michigan for academics, and to just pursue golf on my own.
After re-enrolling at Michigan for the fall semester, I ended up befriending Luke, who was the president of the club golf team and was the person who had originally cut me two falls prior. After playing a round of golf with him, he could not believe that he had cut me, and told me that I would be added to the team for the upcoming semester. For the next two and a half years, club golf became a huge part of my life. Despite only being three tournaments per semester, the social aspect of the team was much greater. Whether it be playing for fun at UMGC or having social gatherings, the team spent a lot of time together. As a result, my teammates have become some of my closest friends, and probably always will be.
Over the summers between my sophomore and senior years, I spent my time competing in amateur golf events and working at Leslie Park Golf Course in Ann Arbor. My game continued to improve, and as a result I still pressed to have an opportunity to walk-on to the varsity team each year. Despite my attempts, it lead to nothing.
During the summer before my senior year, I came to the realization that I would never reach my ultimate golfing goals on my own. This persuaded me to find an instructor, and I began working with Paul Haase at Miles of Golf, who helped me make changes that didn't renounce the foundations of my game. He has made many improvements to my golf swing, but most notably lead me to a significantly weaker grip, but a grip that wasn't so foreign that it wouldn't work. This change took a lot of time, but after putting in the work I started to see the consistency and progress that I was looking for.
After a year of working with Paul, I started to play the best golf of my life. During the summer before my 5th and final year of college, I made it back to match play in the Michigan amateur, finished tied for sixth at the Michigan Open, and won the Ann Arbor City Championship by 19 shots by shooting a 3-day total of 14 under-par. After three notable finishes, I decided to reach out for a walk-on tryout one final time.
About a week after I reached out, I finally got the response that I had been waiting 6 years for. The coaches set up a meeting for us, and we sat down to discuss the possibility of adding me to the roster. After a productive conversation, I was informed that they were going to do everything in their power to add an additional roster spot. The future looked promising.
However, after about another week or so of waiting, I found out that my dream of playing for the Wolverines that fall was not going to happen, as they did not get the approval needed to add me. This was heartbreaking for me, being that I was told that it was not my ability holding me back from joining the team. It took some time, but I came to terms with the situation, and wasn't going to let it stop me from enjoying my final year of college and last handful of club golf events.
About a week prior to the Fall 2018 Club Golf Nationals, I arrived early to one of my classes. As I was sitting there casually waiting for class to start, I received an email from the NCAA asking me to fill out a bunch of compliance forms. My heart exploded with excitement. I didn't want to get ahead of myself because I hadn't even been contacted by the coaches yet, but I knew that there was a chance that I might be getting my big break.
Sure enough, I was contacted the next day about coming back in to meet with the coaches. As I arrived to the meeting, I tried to hide my excitement, as I doubted the coaches knew I had been sent that email. When I found out that I was going to be added to the team, it took everything I had not to start getting too emotional in front of them. As I drove back to my house on campus, tears of joy were running down my face, knowing that I was about to realize a lifelong dream by representing the University of Michigan as a student-athlete.
The coaches knew how badly I wanted to play in Club Golf Nationals, so they waited a week to official add me to the roster so that I could compete with my club teammates one last time. Knowing that I was going to be a varsity athlete in just few days, I definitely put some added pressure on myself to perform in the tournament. Despite this, I was able to accomplish one of my ultimate club golf goals, winning the coveted NCCGA Red Jacket. It was a hell of weekend. Not only did I win the event, but one of my best friends and playing partner, Phil, also set some personal bests. I could not have imagined a better way to end my club golf career.
When we returned to Ann Arbor, my life began to change in a variety of ways. As a student-athlete of the university, I now had many new responsibilities and time commitments that I had to adapt to. The daily workout regimen was easily the toughest for me, going from playing intramural sports a few days a week to working out with trainers 5 days a week, on top of practicing several hours per day. It took a few weeks, but everyday it seemed to become more manageable. Working out and practicing was great, but I was just ready to earn my spot in the lineup and to start competing against the best amateur players in the country.
After the team took a practice trip in January, it was decided that I would compete in the first event of the winter semester, the Big Ten Match Play. I ended up playing well, going 3-0-1, highlighted by a 7&6 win over Iowa. It was a great start to my Michigan career, and as a result, I got to start the next event at the University of Florida.
Unfortunately, my performance in the second event was one of my worst in recent memory. The first day of 36 holes I battled a two-way miss, and my score did not count either round. I was extremely disappointed and felt like I had let me teammates and coaches down. Going into the third round, I was not particularly optimistic given my performance the day prior and my range session that morning, but I was able to grind out a round of 1-under to help the team move up the leaderboard.
Despite my solid final round, I knew that my chances of starting in the next event were unlikely. However, what I did know is that the next tournament was the event we host out in Arizona during our spring break trip, meaning that I would at least get a chance to try and prove myself as an individual in the event.
The team spring break trip in Scottsdale was unbelievable, and we were incredibly spoiled. Unfortunately for me, I was not feeling the greatest all week, but I wasn't going to let that ruin my chance to prove myself. I have played some of my best golf while under-the-weather, but unfortunately this tournament was not one of those times. After finishing near the bottom of the leaderboard, I felt like I had just blown my chance of potentially playing for the rest of the season. I was extremely disappointed in myself because I knew I could perform so much better in the little time that I had as a DI golfer.
It was extremely difficult to sit on the bench for the next two events, but I used that time to grind and tighten up every facet of my game. Despite not having the highest of hopes, I ended up getting a chance to play as an individual in our last event of the regular season at Purdue. I capitalized on it, firing two rounds of par or better before the tournament was ultimately canceled. As a result, I earned a spot in the lineup for the Big Ten Championship at the prestigious Philadelphia Cricket Club. It was a chance to help keep the season alive.
The course was unbelievable and the conditions during the event were extremely tough. I grinded as hard as I could that week, but unfortunately my long irons felt like foreign objects in my hands, which is not something you can afford on that golf course. Even though we had not played our best golf the first two days, the team was only 5 shots back heading into the final round. There was a glimmer of hope. Despite our best efforts, we got outplayed in the final round, and a 75 was a very bitterweet way to end to my collegiate golf career.
Although we did not end up winning the Big Ten Championship or make it to the post season, I feel extremely blessed that I received the opportunity to represent the University of Michigan, even it was only for a brief time. I also am very appreciative of my teammates and coaches who made the transition onto the team very smooth and were extremely accepting of me from the start.
Despite not having the college golf career that I had always dreamed of, I know that my golf story is far from over. As I embark on this journey as a professional golfer, my only goal is to prove to myself that if I work hard enough, I can compete with anyone on this planet. I know that I have it in me.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story, and I hope that over the years to come I can keep adding more great memories to it.
Backyard - 1998
MHSAA State Finals - 2013
Michigan Amateur - 2014
Big I Long Drive Trophy
WHAC Championship - 2015
NCCGA Regional II - Fall 2016
Club Golf Spring Break - 2017
Ann Arbor City Championship - 2018
NCCGA Nationals - Fall 2018
Practice Trip - 2019
Big Ten Championship - 2019