Mr. Golf calls St. Johns Home
The MSU Opportunity – “Everything I Ever Wanted in a School”
Zach Rosendale started golfing at ten years old. He committed to play golf for Michigan State University by the time he was fourteen. Talent, hard work and dedication to the sport he loved earned him an opportunity most of us don’t have the chance to experience.
One of the reasons he chose MSU was its close proximity to his hometown. He likes being able to go back to St. Johns on the weekends and “spend some time with the family and see the dog.” At MSU, Zach has found a second home, “It’s kind of like a family.” The team spends a lot of time together, not just on the course, but in their down time as well.
Many of the teammates he currently plays with are from Michigan. There is a familiarity there from having played high school and junior golf with them throughout the years. One of his teammates, Allyson Geer, also committed to MSU around the same age. They both won American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) tournaments at fourteen and made the decision to play for the Spartans shortly after. They also both worked with renowned golf instructor, Jason Guss. “At the time, he worked way up at Treetops and we’d make the 3 hour trip together.”
Zach credits the Spartan coaching staff as a major reason he decided to play golf for MSU. He’s known Head Coach Casey Lubahn since he was twelve years old. Coach Lubahn was the Head Coach of Miami University at the time. “At The Emerald one time, I was hitting balls on the range and he walked into the pro shop and says ‘who’s that on the range?’ My dad was in the pro shop and he says, ‘yeah that’s my son.’
Associate Head Coach, Dan Ellis, is also someone Zach has a close familiarity with. “He was playing for MSU back when I was being recruited, so I’ve known him for quite a while.” Assistant Coach Chad Kurmel is also someone the team relies on for help with their golf swings. “Chad is a great player too, he can beat me anytime he wants to.”
The new Lasch Family Golf Center was completed in 2016 and is also one of the main reasons for his decision to play college golf in East Lansing. Being able to play and practice in this amazing facility is a huge advantage for a northern school. Zach was gracious enough to show us around one of the top facilities in the nation and give us a glimpse of what it’s like.
How it Started
Zach started with hockey and played for a few years. One day he decided to try hitting a few golf balls in the
backyard. His dad took notice of his “pretty decent swing” and suggested they try a few holes or some time on the range. That was at age ten and he loved it right from the start. “I put a lot of hard work into it fast and committed young. Now I’m here and I love it.”
He was twelve years old when he started getting looks from college programs. They were noticing his strong finishes in the AJGA junior tournaments and some bigger Michigan Amateur events. “Being a young kid playing in those, that gave me a lot of exposure.”
His dad used to work at a manufacturing company in St. Johns and would drop him off before work (6:30 am) at The Emerald and pick him up afterwards (4:00 pm.) He’d hit golf balls on the range, work on his short game, play 18 or more holes and grab lunch somewhere in between. “Whatever I could do to get better. That hard work and just knowing that I could do it along with determination got me here.”
The Redwing Years
The first two years of high school golf did not go as well as he would have liked. The team wasn’t playing its best and he wasn’t either. During his junior year one of his best friends, Eric Nunn, started “kicking it into gear” and the rest of the team followed suit.
The team accomplished its goal of qualifying for the State Tournament. Once they accomplished that, they took on a “Nothing to Lose” mindset. The team gathered in the hotel room and wrote down some goals they thought would be great to accomplish as a team and for the school. They went out on the first day and broke a school record and continued that play through the next day, capturing the 2016 Division 2 Team State Title. “I’ll never forget. That feeling of winning lasted for months afterwards. It lasted forever, I still can’t believe it today.”
The team had everyone back the next year and went on the win the 2017 State Title as well. It was bitter-sweet winning the second team title because he knew their time together was coming to an end. “It was a historic high school career for our team.” Of the eight team state championships in St. Johns history, two belong to this golf team.
In addition to the team title, Zach captured the Individual State Championship in 2017. He was the only player to shoot under par on a brutal final day at The Meadows Golf Course at Saginaw Valley State University. He is one of 54 individual state champions in St. Johns Redwing history and the first golfer to ever attain that honor. The end of a terrific season was capped by being named Mr. Golf by the Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association . He considers that his greatest accomplishment so far.
“My teammates and coaches all prepared me for what college golf was going to be like. Coach Schultz was great with being there for us when we needed him. He helped us balance school and golf, while also pushing us to be the best we could be.”
Zach says he is still in touch with his high school golf coach, Paul Sternburgh. “I love him. He’s like a second father to me. Coach Sternburgh taught me how to be the man I wanted to be. He made me into the man I am today and made me realize that, even though golf is important, there are other things in life that matter more. Like family, school, and relationships. He is one of the greatest guys I’ve ever met in my life. He touched a lot of guys’ hearts and built us into the people we are today. The golf is just a bonus, really.”
Zach Rosendale is currently studying Interdisciplinary Social Education at MSU.
He hopes to teach high school History, Government, and Economics after graduation.
He would like to be a high school golf coach and possibly an athletic director.
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