MCGILL: Winning Weiss Finds Simple Secret to Success
The Word on the Herd -- Nov. 15, 2017
By Chuck McGill
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – There is an old saying about golf not only being a competition against an opponent, course or par, but also against one’s self.
Alex Weiss, a senior at Marshall University and a native of Pickerington, Ohio, completed one of the most accomplished fall seasons of any golfer in Herd history. The reasons for Weiss’ banner season are many, but MU coach Matt Grobe boiled the impressive five-tournament stretch down to one of golf’s oldest adages.
“What Alex Weiss did better than most is he became a better Alex Weiss than he was yesterday,” Grobe said. “He kept competing against himself. He’d wake up in the morning and find a way to get better than he was yesterday.
“For me, as a coach, it’s wonderful because it has been an example for everyone on the team.”
Weiss recorded four top-5 finishes in September and October. He captured wins in Marshall’s Joe Feaganes Invitational and at WVU’s Health Care Mountaineer Invitational. He finished fourth and tied for fourth in two other events, and completed the fall schedule ranked No. 135 nationally among Division I men’s golfers.
“With two wins and two fourth-place finishes, that’s something you dream of to start the year,” Weiss said.
Weiss shot an 11-under 131 in Marshall’s season-opening host event that was shortened to 36 holes because of inclement weather. At the Hummingbird Intercollegiate in Sapphire, North Carolina, he opened with a 5-under 66 – tied for the best single round in tournament history. His fourth-place finish at the Raising Canes Intercollegiate in Richmond, Kentucky, means he bested 86 other players in the field. There were 16 teams at the Mountaineer Invitational, and Weiss posted scores of 1-under, 2-under and 5-under to take the top honor.
“When you love golf, you do whatever it takes to get better,” Grobe said. “That’s the key. He takes his workouts seriously; he takes his academics seriously; he allocates his time well when he’s playing so he can focus on golf and when he’s lifting his weights so he can focus on that.
“For three years he spent all of his time doing everything he could to become better, and then by the time he got to June (before his senior season) he was able to maximize his potential.”
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Weiss first started swinging clubs on Broadview Golf Course in Petaskala, Ohio.
“I was 4 or 5 years old playing golf with my grandfather at a little 9-hole course down the road from his house,” Weiss said.
He was born into a family of golfers, and the game gripped him, too. He played basketball through his freshman year of high school and stuck with baseball longer, and Grobe wondered if Weiss would pursue a sport other than golf at the collegiate level.
“I always knew I liked golf more,” Weiss said.
Grobe was relentless in his recruitment, and saw even more potential under the surface because Weiss divvied his time between baseball and golf.
“Everything he did was a little bit unorthodox,” Grobe said. “He used a 10-finger grip and he did some things you wouldn’t necessarily teach, but he was really good at impact and had an incredible short game. My thought was this: What would happen when he got him only playing golf?”
When Weiss’ senior baseball season at Pickerington North concluded, he put away the bats for good. In the following months, he devoted himself to golf before he headed to Huntington to begin his freshman year.
“All he did was play golf,” Grobe said. “By the time he came here he was a completely different player than what I had seen when I recruited him.”
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Weiss’ dedication to the game was on full display during the fall season.
His biggest fall moment came on Oct. 10 at Pete Dye Golf Club in Bridgeport. Weiss improved in each of the three rounds – 71, 70 and 67 – to post an 8-under 208. He finished first in a field of 84 players. Only nine players were under par, and just one – WVU’s Etienne Papineau – finished better than 3-under (Papineau was three strokes off the lead, at 5-under).
It was a dominant performance, and Weiss was handed a trophy of a Mountaineer holding a musket. A picture of Weiss standing between a WVU coach and player circulated on social media.
“We took that picture and I looked at their assistant coach and said, ‘Well, this is kind of awkward,’” Weiss said. “I’m glad I could go up there and do that and get Marshall in the winner’s circle.”
Grobe, however, said Weiss was motivated by the rain-shortened win to open the season, and that carried over into his performance the rest of the fall.
“That’s what he’ll step away from and think is more special,” Grobe said, “that he won a 54-hole event, in our state, on a great course against a challenging field.”
The spring schedule begins in March, and Weiss has no plans to slow down during his final season with the Herd.
“For me it has been maturity and development of my ball-striking,” he said. “When I came here I didn’t have the prettiest swing, and I still don’t, but I found a way to make it more efficient. I’m hitting more fairways and greens, and once you do that the bogeys start falling off the card and the birdies start adding up.”
The competitiveness and desire within Weiss allowed him to compensate for his unusual mechanics.
“I thought he was going to be a project,” Grobe said. “I thought I was going to have to redshirt him. But the kid is a winner. From the time he showed up on campus, I realized he’s got that ‘it’ factor you look for that you can’t measure when you’re out there recruiting. He has a winning mentality, he doesn’t let negativity take over, he stays positive and stays in the moment.
“And … he wants to win.”