The Marquette men’s golf team is trying to reverse its fortunes in 2012-13 after several years of low finishes and overall disappointment. With four new players joining the squad this season, the roster has a fresh look, and with it has come a big energy boost.
Freshmen Zach Gaugert, Patrick Sanchez and Nick Nelson and sophomore transfer Jack McKinney have already impressed coach Steve Bailey.
Bailey, entering his third season with the program, is excited for what the quartet brings to the Golden Eagles.
“I’m really excited about the positive energy these guys have brought to the program so far,” Bailey said. “The new guys have some good resumes and have played really well so far, and it’s pumped up everybody’s game.”
That energy was on display this past week as Marquette took part in five rounds of qualifying play including 36 holes on Saturday to determine the team’s roster for its first tournament this weekend in New York.
Gaugert led the team, while senior Ryan Prickette came in second followed by Sanchez.
Bailey said the finalized lineup will include some surprises and new faces based on what he saw last week.
“We’re going to have our four new guys in the lineup for the first tourney,” Bailey said. “We had two freshmen in our top three this week, but Prickette stayed up there for most of week. It was nice to have our lone senior lead the charge for a pretty good portion of the week.”
Prickette said he’s taken a laid-back approach to his last season at Marquette, and despite not getting a lot of time on the greens in over the summer, his attitude has helped get his game started tremendously.
“I didn’t get to work on my game very much in the offseason since I worked full time,” Prickette said. “I came in with an open mind and just want to relax and take in my last year, and I feel like that has helped me have a good start.”
Prickette added the new players have made a big impression on him and have already improved the team’s depth, which has plagued the team in past seasons.
Even though Marquette is hoping to turn things around this year, Prickette said the Golden Eagles are going to focus on simply playing the best golf possible without worrying about any preseason expectations.
“We’re at the point now where we are trying to gel as a team with new guys,” Prickette said. “I’m not saying that there aren’t any expectations this year, but we’re trying to ignore the fact that there are expectations and play stress-free golf.”
This may be their first season at Marquette, but the new faces bring a lot of experience to the table.
McKinney led his Maryville University team in scoring average last season and set the university’s single-round scoring record with a 7-under-par 64.
Gaugert was a three-time all state golfer at Waunakee High School where he helped his squad win three straight conference championships.
Sanchez has been a member of the Mexico national team for five years, and Nelson was Iowa’s top-ranked prep golfer, according to the Junior Golf Scoreboard.
Bailey said the strong backgrounds of each new golfer has ratcheted up the competition and pushed everyone’s games to a higher level.
“The competitiveness these guys have brought has been great,” Bailey said. “A lot of the guys who have been here a while now know that their spots are not guaranteed.”