Marquette Golf: Freshman goes from Friday night lights to links

Zach Gaugert

Golf is viewed by many as a sport that glorifies the individual athlete. Many successful players specialize in golf their entire lives, unfamiliar with the team aspect that permeates other sports.

Freshman Zach Gaugert, however, was a member of one of Wisconsin’s most successful teams in high school and has had no problem bringing what he’s learned to the Marquette golf team.

Gaugert helped Waunakee High School’s golf team to three straight conference titles and was a three-time all-state golfer.

Perhaps even more impressive, however, were his accomplishments on the gridiron. Gaugert was a first-team all-conference wide receiver and team captain of a Waunakee High football team that won three state championships.

While the six-foot-three freshman fondly remembers catching passes and scoring touchdowns, his true passion is played out on the links.

“It was pretty clear for me from the beginning that I wanted to play golf,” Gaugert said. “I was more passionate about it than football, and I think in the end I just had to do what my heart told me and what I felt like I would be able to do in the future. I had some interest from schools, but I never really followed up with them since I had already made my decision to play golf.”

Coach Steve Bailey had reached out to Gaugert before his senior year and is glad, in retrospect, that Marquette was able to get to him early enough.

“Zach is just a model young man and probably the most athletic guy on the team,” Bailey said. “First and foremost he comes from a great family. He’s a hardworking guy and a solid individual.”

Bailey has been most impressed with Gaugert’s knack as a leader thanks to his experience in team sports.

“He really grasped that team concept when he came here, and he has so many of the leadership qualities we’re looking for,” Bailey said. “Game-wise, he’s arguably the best ball striker on our team. He really has great control over his golf ball.”

Freshman Nick Nelson rooms with Gaugert and said his confidence as a leader shows on the course, and his likability as a person shines off it.

“Zach’s probably one of the easiest guys to get along with,” Nelson said. “He could get along with anybody at any time doing anything. (His football experience) gives him a confidence and kind of an aura about him which gives him a natural leadership. We haven’t thrown the football around yet, but we do have his highlight tape back in our dorm room, so we’ve seen what he can do.”

Gaugert has so far enjoyed the experience and feels he will develop into a solid contributor for the Golden Eagles in the future.

“I was talking about the perks of having to only focus on one sport all summer with my parents, and now that I can focus all my energy on golf I feel like the sky is the limit for my potential,” Gaugert said. “Since I’ve gotten to college I’ve been hitting it great, but my putting hasn’t been very good. Really all of my short game needs improvement right now.”

Bailey said it’s been exciting to work with Gaugert now that he’s zeroed in on golf in college.

“I’m excited about the fact that now he’s only training for one sport,” Bailey said. “He was able to play (golf) as impressively as he did while splitting time with football, and now to have him 100 percent committed to golf, there’s not going to be a cap on him.”