Photo by Bill Roseberry
Drew Sobol of EA-WR (left) and Marquette’s Michael Holtz (right) look on from the tee boxes at No. 13 at Belk Park Golf Course in Wood River Sept. 24 during a quadrangular meet. The junior golfers have a fervent and friendly rivalry.
When it comes to the junior class for prep boys’ golf in the metropolitan area, it doesn’t get much better than Marquette Catholic’s Michael Holtz and East Alton-Wood River’s Drew Sobol.
Holtz and Sobol have been squaring off since they were freshmen. Being close geographically, mired in the Prairie State Conference together and now both listed in Class 2A come playoff time, they get plenty of time to see each other.
“It’s nice being that close to each other and playing the same courses and pretty much the same schedule over the years,” Marquette head coach Pat Moore said. “They’re really good players at their age and they’re only juniors, so both have another full season to go.”
Roxana head coach Jeff Pare added as an outside observer, “It’s awesome and it’s what this is all about. You see two kids who have worked their tail ends off to become the players they are, which are real good. I think they’re the best two juniors in the entire area.”
Thus far this season Holtz and Sobol have met three times on the links, but with the PSC Tournament scheduled for Saturday at Timber Lakes Golf Course in Staunton and the Class AA Marquette Regional set for Tuesday at Rolling Hills Golf Course in Godfrey, it’s about to get serious.
“It’s really fun to play with a competitor that can give you a match,” Drew Sobol said. “It’s fun competing with someone as good as you, or better sometimes. We’re good buddies and we like to have fun when we play together. We’ve been playing together every since freshmen year.”
The friendship makes it nice, according to Holtz, who shot a 33 to win medalist honors in a quad at Belk Park Golf Course in Wood River on Sept. 24. Sobol and the Oilers were there, too. Sobol shot 37.
“It’s really competitive, but it’s also really fun to have a good friend and someone to compete against,” Holtz said. “We keep it pretty light. We joke around a lot like teenagers would. We like to have a lot of fun on the golf course, but it’s also competitive.”
Dave Sobol, head coach at EA-WR and Drew’s dad, gets fired up to see the two compete on the course, not only due to their talent, but their maturity and camaraderie.
“In this sport you better cheer your opponent on, because you’re not playing against a player, you’re playing against the course and some days you get the bear, some days the bear gets you,” Dave Sobol said. “With those two boys, they just get along and they root for each other. It’s just such a pleasure to watch two such good golfers. They carry themselves so well and they’re so mature. Who wouldn’t want to watch that?”
Moore added, “You definitely have two standout players for two respectable schools. They’ve been playing against each other at No. 1 since freshman year and they just go back and forth. It’s birdie, birdie and par, par, back and forth like that over the years. It’s really fun to watch.
“The way they feed off each other, there is competitiveness there for sure. Of course they want to beat each other, but they’re friends. It’s definitely a friendly rivalry.”
Neither are strangers to success on the golf course, individually and on the team front. Last season Sobol helped lead the Oilers to their first ever state appearance in Class 1A, causing the bump to 2A this season.
Holtz and the Explorers stumbled at the end of ‘14, but are rolling with a 17-0 dual record entering this week. Marquette hopes it can be the state-bound squad this season.
Individually, they have medaled many events they’ve been a part of this season and they’ve battled hard in events against each other.
The Hickory Stick Invite at Belk Park to start the season went to Sobol, who shot a 5-under 67. Holtz tied for second with a 1-over 73.
Next up was the Madison County Meet at Gateway National Golf Links in Madison. This time Holtz shot par at 71 to gain bragging rights. Sobol was second with a 4-over 75.
It’s a big deal because the duo keeps score of their battles against each other and Holtz knows what he has to do at conference and regionals.
“I was mad,” Holtz said with a smile after losing at the Hickory Stick. “I can’t let him beat me.
“You’ve got to go low. Drew always seems to go low against me, which is really annoying. He shot 67 in the Hickory Stick and I was like, ‘What the heck?’ On the 18th green he said, ‘This is what it feels like when everybody’s dropping birdies on you.’ It was fun.”
Following the dual Sobol knew he fell behind in the season tally, but he’s looking to rebound.
“He’s up 2-1, yeah,” Drew Sobol said, chuckling. “He’s up one, but hopefully I can square it off by the time we get to regionals.”
Holtz quipped, “Let’s see if I can go up 3-1.”
Dave Sobol looks forward to what the future brings for the tandem.
“There are going to be two lucky college coaches and it might be one, I don’t know,” he said. “Crazy things have happened. Right now you’re playing against each other and in two years you could be teammates and nothing would make me happier.”
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