The Minnesota State Mankato men’s golf team wrapped up its 2023 spring season with a third-place finish at the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Championship. This season was full of improvement and will be a stepping stone for next year’s players.
The golf program as a whole made groundbreaking improvements. Head coach Alex Schmitz started an initiative to raise over $11,000 to build the university’s first-ever golf facility. His ambition turned successful and built two golf simulators with a putting green in the basement of Taylor Center. The facility gives the program a place to practice in the winter months.
This new addition helped the team succeed throughout the season due to the feedback it gives on players’ swings. They are now able to get an inside look at their swing, which helped in future tournaments.
“It showed in Arizona,” Schmitz said. “For example, if guys want to work on their 100-yard shots they can sit there and hit as many shots as they need to gain the feel for the shot all while getting continuous feedback.”
It is also a way for the team to build stronger chemistry and build the culture that Schmitz strives for.
“The atmosphere in the facility is awesome, It’s completely built up our culture,” Schmitz said. “It keeps the competitive levels high because the players are constantly playing against each other. The men’s and women’s teams even compete with and against each other. It’s truly been really, really good for us.”
Schmitz says the golf facility is a main contributor to the team’s recent success. The Mavs played at the Mules National Golf Course at the Central Missouri Mule Invite. This tournament showcased 20 of the region’s best teams and MSU finished eighth. Although they took a mid-tier finish, they had a lot of positives.
In the last round of the tournament, the Mavs shot 294 which gave them the third-best finish of the day. This was only one stroke behind the two teams tied for first. This strong finish can be credited to Jack Klimek.
Klimek finished the season on a tear. At The Mule, he jumped 11 spots in the last round which finished him fifth overall among 100 players. Two weeks later, he had a second-place individual finish at the NSIC Championship. This helped the Mavs finish third in their conference.
Again, the facility played a big role in his dominance. Klimek learned from his previous knowledge of the championship course on the simulators and putting green to get a better understanding of how to perform at the championship.
The last thing the facility can attribute to is the upcoming seasons of golf. The players will be able to use the facility in the offseason and it has helped Schmitz land new recruits.
“It’s really cool as you know, the simulator projectors are hooked up to iPads and there’s a creative app where we can write personalized messages on screens to welcome recruits,” said Schmitz.“ This makes them feel like ‘Hey, they want me here, they really want me here.’ I put that up on the screen and they walk in and think its really cool. Personalized things like that remind us and the recruits that this is home. It truly feels like home now.”
Write to Luke Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Header Photo: Minnesota State’s Men’s Golf team concludes their 2023 season after the NSIC Championship tournament last Friday through Sunday. (Courtesy MSU Athletics)