Loving the game

Alex Templin brings his passion full-circle

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Loving the game

Alex Templin hopes to end his senior year on a high note at the Beu Mussato Invite this weekend.

Alex Templin hopes to end his senior year on a high note at the Beu Mussato Invite this weekend.

Alex Templin hopes to end his senior year on a high note at the Beu Mussato Invite this weekend.

Alex Templin hopes to end his senior year on a high note at the Beu Mussato Invite this weekend.

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Alex Templin learned something about himself.

No, it wasn’t in his young adult years, nor when he was a teenager.

This lesson began at the age of 5, when Templin began to play the game of golf.

What started out as just another activity for fun turned into hours and hours of working on his craft and improving his game.

And with Templin’s senior year drawing to a close, he just wants to enjoy every practice, tournament and moment he has left.

Between the ages of 5 and 8, Templin was getting instructed while in Georgia. He was taught the fundamentals, and every basic aspect of golf.

“It was interesting,” Templin said. “It was a lot of fun at the same time. I think that’s why I was hooked on it.”

Then he and his family moved to Mount Sterling, Illinois, and they were looking for a new coach to continue Alex’s golf career.

Their call? Mel Blasi, who was entering his fourth season at Western Illinois in 2004.

“They had moved up from Georgia and they were looking for someone to teach Alex,” Blasi said. “I think he had college on his mind.”

Blasi immediately started coaching Templin, but he didn’t have to do a whole lot of teaching.

“He was a little more advanced,” he added. “Fundamentally, a player that starts as young as Alex did, he’s already on the right road.”

Templin said it was right around his sophomore year of high school when golf became a passion, and he started to take it more to heart, especially after some impressive results.

“I got third in the regional and I did pretty well at some tournaments,” he said. “I kind of found out I could be good if I kept practicing.”

His high school career ended on a great note, winning an individual sectional title and placing 20th at the state meet his junior year, and wrapping up his tenure with a 32nd finish at state and helping his team to a regional championship during his senior year.

When it came to the idea of playing at the next level, Templin said he always thought he could go Division I, and with a victory in a key event, he realized it could become a reality.

“I won a tournament in Jacksonville with all the best players around the area when I was 16,” Templin said. “After that year, I reflected back and thought that I had a chance to play at the collegiate level.

“That was always my goal: to play Division I golf.”

His final three choices were Evansville, Valparaiso and Western.

“I was always comfortable with Western because I knew the coach,” Templin said. “I was always leaning heavily towards Western.”

He chose the Leathernecks over the other two choices, and was prepared to step right into tournaments and college level competition. The problem was, he didn’t get into it right way.

Templin’s first two years in a Leatherneck polo were minimal, as he participated in just five events.

“It was extremely difficult,” Templin said. “It was tough trying to qualify and failing over and over again.”

What he thought would be a bang out of the gate, turned into a waiting game. Blasi felt he was one of the most consistent players on the team his freshman and sophomore years, he just was behind more experienced players.

“He was adjusting to play with all good players,” Blasi said. “I thought he played well.”

Templin knew he had to improve something in his game.

“I didn’t hit the ball long enough off the tee and my wedge game wasn’t very good,” Templin said.

In between the end of his sophomore year and beginning of his junior year, Templin received more coaching, this time from Tony Pancake, who was the head pro at Crooked Stick in Avon, Indiana.

“He really helped me,” Templin added. “He wanted me to hit the inside of the ball to create a push-draw, so that helped me gain 25 yards off the tee.”

With his junior year in sight, Templin wanted to play much more, and have a better impact on Western.

“The thing I was going to do was not get in my own way,” he said. “I just really wanted to find out if I was good enough to make the team.

“I wasn’t so concerned about making tournaments, I just wanted to play my best golf.”

Those lessons from Pancake paid off. Templin competed in all 12 events his junior year, and had the third best stroke average in what was a big turnaround season.

“I played a lot and it was very up and down,” Templin said. “I learned from the bad and I learned from the good. I did some good things, but I made a lot of mistakes and I learned how to play in tournaments.”

There’s one specific instance where Templin said really motivated him to be more consistent.

“I’ll never forget the DePaul tournament, and I think I shot 83-86-84,” Templin said. “I probably beat a handful of guys. I was embarrassed to look. Learning from those experiences I think made me who I am today.”

Blasi felt his senior leader took a giant step forward his junior year.

“It just took awhile for him to develop,” he said. “He’s been the model of a kid that comes in that plays, letters his freshman year and then his junior year he’s got the confidence and he’s a good example for the rest of the guys.”

Now with his senior year coming to a close, Templin’s time at the course is coming down to the end, too.

Once Templin completes his bachelor’s degree in Parks, Recreation, Leisure and Fitness Studies, he won’t be taking his talents professionally.

He won’t even play everyday. He’ll be just a normal adult.

“I’m going to be a salesmen at Hahn Furniture in Muscatine, Iowa,” Templin said. “I don’t think I’m going to go pro.”

In what has been what Templin called a “rollercoaster” career, he just wants these last tournaments to be a reflection of his time at Western.

“I’ve learned how to balance two things at the same time,” he said. “There’s pressure on the golf course, and multi-tasking is something I’ll probably do for the rest of my life.”

Blasi believes he’s left a legacy at Western.

“I wish I could have him for a couple more years,” he said. “Who would’ve thought that Brown County would get a scholarship and play at the Division I level that he has? I think it shows you that the sky is the limit.”

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