Alex Schmitz changes the golf program and breaks records

The new changed culture for Minnesota State University, Mankato’s golf team has been groundbreaking for the program, all thanks to the new head coach. 

Over the past year and a half, Alex Schmitz started as the men’s golf coach but when women’s coach Bailey Gerdes resigned, Schmitz took over both programs. Schmitz saw both golf programs as full of potential and acted on them quickly. This started with changing the culture. 

Schmitz has created an atmosphere for the student-athletes to feel comfortable, not only on the golf course but off it too. He wants his players to be both students and athletes, “The culture is one, letting the student-athletes be students, I mean they technically are still kids,” Schmitz said.  “A lot of women have come out of their shells because we have changed the atmosphere to be a fun place and now they have seen what we can do to win.”

With this change, the women’s golf team has now won three out of their last four tournaments.  Schmitz says that they work together at all times and are one, “All in it together, all in to for the same goal, the biggest thing is they are having fun. When you are having fun, you are competing, you are winning. Winning is not everything, but it is the icing on the cake”. 

When the women’s team realized they were allowed to have fun while learning lessons it changed the game for them. Schmitz never wanted golf to seem like a harsh job and when he made that clear, the team was ready to shine. 

The women’s team broke a groundbreaking record for the program this season on Sept. 9. They shot under 300 two days in a row. MSU’s women’s golf has never been able to hit under 300 before and Schmitz led them to do it, twice in back-to-back days.

“To me, it is more about seeing the smile on their faces when they go to get their trophy, their smiles pay off all their hard work. It’s not all about winning but setting the school record at 299 and then tying the school record the next day again and that is really cool”. 

With this record, Schmitz realized he needed to show the recruits that they were ready to win and that he cared for the future. This future relied on landing his potential recruits, “I make the time to go wherever I need to go. I’ll go to Wisconsin or northern Minnesota. It’s a 12- or 15-hour day but it’s worth the face-to-face contact”. He spends his days driving out to wherever he needs to go to sit down and converse with his recruits instead of over the phone. 

The team’s future is now set up for success with the changes he has made. When Schmitz arrived at MSU’s campus he noticed how great the campus facilities were. He saw plenty of winning programs across MSU’s sports and a campus with amazing facilities. He didn’t see this with the golf program though, but he wanted to make this a possibility. 

Recruiting is hard for Schmitz because of the lack of golf facilities MSU has to offer. The practice’s in the winter are held in an old gym and the team has to set up mats and nets to hit into, this wasn’t a viable option for winning and the recruits saw it too, “We lose recruitments too. They might not have a better campus or programs, but they do have better practice facilities” Schmitz said. This is all actively changing now. 

Schmitz started a new project and it took off, now going better than ever. When sitting down with Schmitz we were sitting in his new but empty office space that is soon to be their new practice facility. 

“The room we are sitting in was a storage facility, you would’ve walked in here and said no way we are going to get a golf facility out of this. Hundreds of boxes were in here and I looked at them and decided we need to reevaluate this room. Now we are going to have two simulators in here, a putting green, and I finally got my own office”. 

This whole room would not have been possible if it wasn’t for his idea to raise money for the program. Schmitz set up raffles at local golf courses and sold 550 raffle tickets for 20 bucks each. The result of these raffles ended up being around $11,000 for the program.  MSU’s golf team also hosted the Nick Campa Maverick Golf Classic which is in honor of long-time coach Nick Campa. This golf classic raised four to five more grand. The last of the money that was raised for the golf teams were from donors and Schmitz himself. This was all for the new facilities. 

With the new golf simulators, putting greens and launch monitors the team will now be able to practice more efficiently than they have in the past. This will leave them with more skill for when the spring season rolls around and a more enticing way to land recruits. 

 It is evident that Schmitz has changed MSU’s golf program for the better. From seeing the smiles on the athlete’s faces, making them feel welcome when they are on and off the course, and making constant selfless acts for the betterment of the golf team’s programs, Schmitz proves time and time again that he is here to make a difference and is planning to continue to do so.

Header Photo:  ​Alex Schmitz is the head coach for both Men and Women’s golf at Minnesota State University, Mankato. (Courtesy Photo)

Write to Luke Jackson at Luke.Jackson.2@mnsu.edu

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