Duane Price said at the beginning the golf season that senior Hunter Schultz would be a leader for his Princeton golf team on and off the course. Perhaps he didn’t know how much he would be.
With the absence of No. 1 player Cole Evenson for much of the season, it was Schultz who led the Tigers from start to finish. It was Schultz who led by example, ending his season with a trip to the IHSA Class 2A State Golf Tournament and now as the 2012 BCR Golfer of the Year.
Schultz assumed the added responsibility as one of only two seniors with classmate Austin Hellman.
“I knew I needed to step up and start posting lower scores, not just settling for average,” he said. “I really needed to show up and kind of guide the team. I guess it was between me and (junior) Zach (Hicks) and Austin; we kind of guided the team in Cole’s absence.”
He acknowledged that with that extra burden you sometimes feel the pressure, “but when you actually get on the golf course, it doesn’t really seem to take effect.”
Schultz averaged 41.6 per nine and improvement of more than two strokes from his 2011 season average. Price said Schultz took lessons and worked hard on his game last summer, and it paid off with the state tournament berth.
“I found Hunter to be very coachable, especially as he improved his short game and mental toughness during the postseason,” Price said,
While he said his scores throughout the season could have been better, he said he posted some pretty decent scores along the way, and “they happened at the right time.”
None came better than the postseason. He shot an 85 as the Tigers’ No. 2 man behind teammate Cole Evenson (75) at the Dixon 2A Regional, where PHS advanced with a third-place team finish.
At the Belvidere Sectional, Schultz and other golfers faced the challenges of Timber Point Golf Club in Poplar Grove and Mother Nature on a very blustery day in northern Illinois. He carded an 87, which he points out was more like a 77 on that day at other sectionals, to advance to state as the eighth-place individual qualifier.
He calls his trip to state and the D.A. Weibring Golf Club on the campus of Illinois State University as simply phenomenal.
“It was nothing like I’ve ever been in,” he said. “That atmosphere itself was great being among all these other amazing golfers. It’s like sectional times 10.”
He found the ISU course to be tough with fast greens, and “a shank or two” on the first hole didn’t help. But he rebounded later in the round with three straight pars, playing some of his best golf inexplicably in the rain to finish with an 89.
Mother Nature continued to rain on the IHSA parade Saturday, cancelling the second round of play after just three holes. It was a disappointing end for Schultz, since he had finished strong Friday.
Among his other season highlights, Schultz placed eighth in the Tigers’ PIT (83) and received NCIC All-Conference and NCIC Academic All-Conference honors.
Now that he’s had the experience to play at the highest level in high school, he has more of an inkling to continue to play in college. If he doesn’t play competitively, he said he will play club or intramural golf as he tackles a pre-med degree in bio med or science.
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