It was a special season for the Marquette Catholic Explorer boys’ golf squad in 2015.
Cast at the forefront of that success was junior linkster Michael Holtz. Holtz was the medalist at the Hickory Stick Invite, the Madison County Meet and the Class 2A Marquette Regional at Rolling Hills Golf Course in Godfrey. The Explorers won all of those events, too.
Overall they were 17-0 in dual meets and finished seventh in the Class 2A state tournament at Weibring Golf Course in Normal.
All of that success spurred Holtz to be the AdVantage News Boys’ Golfer of the Year.
The success came on the heels of woeful ending to the ‘14 season. As a sophomore, Holtz watched as Marquette won a regional crown and then failed to advance even an individual from sectionals.
“Sophomore year was a little disappointing,” Holtz said. “I didn’t finish the way I’d liked to. The weather there at Acorns Golf Links just killed us. We weren’t prepared for pouring down rain and we probably should have prepared a little better.
“We were a lot stronger this year. Even though we were a lot younger we were just a lot stronger with guys like Kolten Bauer, who has played a lot of tournament golf. I thought we had a really good chance of going far and I actually think we could have done a little better at state, but the pieces just didn’t fall into place.”
On a team filled with underclassmen, Holtz pointed to the freshmen class in ‘15 as a catalyst for the success. Bauer, Jack Patterson and Sam Cogan came in and eased the pressure off of juniors Holtz, Nick Messinger and Duncan McLain.
“Kolten and Jack were real consistent all year,” Holtz said. “Kolten averaged a 39 each time out and that’s a great score to have, so Nick and I could just go low and not worry about, ‘oh, we might lose,’ when we have all these other guys. There wasn’t as much pressure on Nick and I. We could just go out and have fun.”
With all Marquette players showing prowess on the courses, Holtz admitted it became a friendly competition between them.
“I think we’re almost playing each other more than the other team,” Holtz said, chuckling. “We’re all so close, we’re like brothers, all six of us. I think we want to beat each other more than the other team sometimes. We’ve got little bragging rights over each other. It kept us all focused. We practiced hard and we just all wanted to beat each other so hard.”
Accuracy and patience. That’s the name of the game for Holtz’s success on the links. His course management skills are pristine for a prep golfer. He noted his play from the tees and near the pin as his strong points.
“My wedge game and driver is real good,” Holtz said. “I average 10 to 12 fairways a round and my average wedge shot can be inside 20 feet, so every time I have a wedge in my hand I’m setting myself up for a birdie.”
He and his teammates will just continue to play in big tournaments in the offseason and improve their skill sets. He looks for big things from the Explorers during his senior campaign.
“As a team we want to win state. That’s our main goal,” he said. “I think we can definitely do it; we just have to stay focused and practice hard all summer and prepare for the state tournament. We have to work on playing in wind, playing in rain, playing in these rough conditions that are going to come. We were young this year and we did that good. I think we’ve got a good chance at winning or top three.”