Freshman Nick Nelson really likes golf. It sounds like an obvious statement, with Nelson entering his third week as a member of the Marquette golf team, but when his name is brought up to his coach and teammates, that simple sentence is the first thing they can think of to describe him.
“I think his quote at the team retreat we had back at the beginning of the season went somewhere along the lines of ‘I really, really like golf,’ and it’s just who he is,” coach Steve Bailey said. “He’ll stay up every night thinking of ways to get better. He’s kind of that gym rat of the golf world.”
Bailey said Nelson has the ideal character that he looks for in all of his recruits and he hopes Nelson’s optimism spreads to the rest of the team.
“When we started this season, we wanted to have an environment of contagious positive energy, and Nick is really the epitome of that,” Bailey said. “He might be the most positive person on the team.”
The Decorah, Iowa, native was the top-ranked prep golfer in the state of Iowa, according to the Junior Golf Scoreboard.
He was named the 2012 3A Player of the Year by the Iowa High School Golf Coaches Association, was a four-time first team all-state selection and helped Decorah High School capture the 2012 3A Iowa High School state title.
According to his teammates, Nelson has a great sense of humor. Fellow freshman and roommate Patrick Sanchez said he and the rest of the team love to poke fun at Nelson’s small-town background.
“We get along great and we’re always joking around,” Sanchez said. “He’s kind of the farm boy, being from Decorah. It’s a small town of about 5,000 people. We always tell him there are more cows in Decorah than people. He and (assistant) coach (Michael Bielawski) are kind of the funny ones of the group.”
Joking aside, Nelson said he’s gained a monumental amount of experience in his first two tournaments as a college golfer.
“College golf is different from any other level of golf I’ve played, as any freshman would agree,” Nelson said. “I want to work on being consistent no matter the tournament or what the conditions are, who we’re playing or what course we’re playing. I just always want to know what I can expect from myself.”
Nelson said after struggling at the Windon Memorial Classic last weekend, he wants to focus on his putting.
“I think there’s a lot of confidence that comes to you when you can make some big putts,” he said. “It really lessens the pressure on the rest of your game.”
Bailey said Nelson’s character isn’t the only thing that makes him stand out. At an early part of his career, Nelson’s accuracy has already left a big impression on his coach.
“What really sticks out to me about Nick’s game is his consistency and his accuracy,” Bailey said. “He doesn’t hit it a long way, but he probably has more control over his golf ball than anybody on the team. He’s a really straight hitter, a good putter and I think once we can get him a little stronger in the weight room, he’s going to get some better scores.
“From a coach’s standpoint though, he’s everything you could ask for as far as attitude and work ethic.”