Even when Alex Napolitan was just seven years old, Nick Conard knew the youngster was going to be a special golfer.
“The first few years we had him in the program, you could tell he was talented,” said Conard, who heads the junior golf program at Port Huron Golf Club.
“His hand-eye coordination was better than most kids … and he was a junior club champion when he was younger.”
Ever since those early days, the winning feeling hasn’t really escaped Napolitan.
This year, the senior helped the well-balanced Port Huron Northern Huskies to a fourth straight MAC White title, sweeping through the schedule with an 8-0 record. He also chipped in for the Huskies third regional tournament berth.
As an individual, he earned the area’s lowest nine hole average of 40.25. To cap off the season, he took home a first place finish in the Blue Water All-Star Classic by six strokes.
Now, he is the Times Herald Boys Golfer of the Year.
“He’s a happy-go-lucky guy,” Northern coach Tom Wilson said. “He’s an all-around positive kid. He has a good work ethic and wanted to have a really good senior year, and he did that.”
When going all the way back to the beginning, Alex said his dad, Pat, is the one who got him playing the game. He also credits Port Huron Golf Club pro Joel Peattie for building the foundation of his swing that has become one of the longest in the MAC.
While Peattie built his swing, Alex’s dad gave him the mental side of the game. However, that came at a considerable cost a few years ago.
“I had a bad shot that went into the trees, and I got out of the bunker and snapped the club over my knee,” Alex said, still regretting the incident.
After forking over $130 to fix the club, Alex certainly got the wakeup call that he needed to embed his dad’s mental game into his own game. Nowadays when Alex golfs and has a rare bad hole, he bounces back on the next tee box and goes through the round strong.
“He really had confidence this year where he could go low,” Wilson said. “He had a set goal that he would shoot in the 30s or low 40s, and he would get there even after tough starts.”
He had the strong swing and the sound mental game, but his own teammates also boosted his game this season. Clay Wilson, Nick Vranish, Hunter Austin and Brendan Shagena were all hockey teammates with Alex, but they were also competitive golfers – all averaged a nine hole score under 45.
“It was a lot of fun, it was great golfing with those guys every day,” Alex said. “It makes for competition, you always wanted to come in with the lowest score.”
The next step in Alex’s future is roughly 115 miles west, where Michigan State awaits his arrival in the fall. He’ll be studying mechanical engineering, and he even sat on the idea of trying to walk on to the Spartans golf team.
His handicap is about two strokes over the mark of the Spartans roster, but even if he doesn’t try out for the team he’ll still enjoy the sports as much as he can.
“As of now I’ll probably be a recreational golfer,” Alex said. “I’ll go golfing with Hunter (his future roommate) after classes a few days hopefully.”
Contact Matt Sheehan at (810)-989-6267 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s on Twitter @Sheehan_Sports.