By Rick Teverbaugh
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
For the first time in 22 years, the Ball State men’s golf team will be making an appearance in the NCAA Regional, and Liberty Christian product Alex Stinson is one of big reasons.
Stinson, a senior, will be playing in the No. 2 slot for the Cardinals when they play Thursday in the regional at Pullman, Wash. BSU is seeded 10th among the 14 teams.
This year Stinson carries a 74.89 stroke average.
“I am really pleased to have a chance to play in the top five for Ball State,” said Stinson in a weekend telephone interview. “I am really blessed to play on such a great team. We have a balanced group of players. All of us are tough, gritty players. We know how to grind it out when we need to.”
Stinson believes his strength is going with the flow.
“I think I figured out how to take what I have on a given day and make it work,” said Stinson. “It’s not always going to be pretty.”
Ball State head coach Mike Fleck, in his 15th season at the BSU helm, is impressed with Stinson’s progress.
“Alex has come a long way since he arrived at Ball State four years ago,” he said. “He has learned a lot and continually improved each year. The big thing now is he really knows how to play the game with what he has on a given day or a particular round. He has really become a gamer in terms of getting the ball around the golf course even when he doesn’t have his best stuff. He has definitely brought a lot to our team. He is an excellent student and an awesome person, and from a golf perspective, he has contributed a lot during his four years.”
The course over which the regional will be held is the Palouse Ridge Golf Club. Stinson has some general information about it.
“I just know it is a links type course,” he said of the 7,308-yard layout. “I grew up playing the country club type courses. But this is more similar to Purgatory (Golf Club in Noblesville). We played there on Saturday with the Indiana team, and I had the low score among 16 golfers. I think I’ve gotten a lot better at chipping and pitching.”
The team left early Tuesday for Pullman. There will be time for a practice round today, and then the competition begins on Thursday.
Stinson twice posted a low round of 69 this season, and his low three-round total was a 213.
He is adamant about the mindset of the Ball State golfers going into this regional.
“We’re not satisfied just to make it there,” said Stinson. “We’re not going there as a vacation to play golf. We are going there to compete.”
Stinson will be ending his amateur playing days shortly after the NCAA tournament.
“I will be turning pro this summer,” he said. “So this is the last time I will be part of a team. I don’t know exactly when it will happen. There’s no paperwork you sign. It’s just the first time you take money for playing in a tournament, you lose your amateur status.”
He is surprised at how quickly the four years have passed at Ball State.
“I just got used to everything here, and it’s time to leave,” he said.
He is giving himself a year or two to make it as a golf pro. But he has a Plan B. If it doesn’t work out, then he will go back to college and get his masters degree in biology.