WINNEBAGO (WREX) — Winnebago senior golfer Marcus Smith first picked up a golf club when he was four years old. He says he got bored of sitting around the driving range while his dad and grandpa hit balls, so Marcus picked up a club and started hitting.
“I hit ten balls, I think they said, and I hit them all straight,” Smith remembers. “Ever since then I’ve just had a love for the game because I get to play with my grandpa who is my favorite person and my hero.”
Grandpas are famous for handing out wisdom. Marcus says one piece in particular stuck with him after falling short of his state championship goals his freshman and sophomore seasons.
“One thing I did learn from him that has stayed true to my heart is you have to believe before you can achieve,” Smith said.
He says that advice helped boost his confidence, which resulted in a state title last year. As Marcus had grown into a state champ, his demeanor on the course has evolved.
“A lot of times on the golf course I don’t like to show very much expression,” Smith said. “I like to keep my game face on. I like to stay focused. I feel like that’s changed a lot. When I was younger I was all giggly and excited. I still love the game but at the end of the day I want to win.”
Marcus sees the opportunity in front of him, but he’s not getting ahead of himself.
“I am excited but I do realize my job is not finished,” he said. “If I do come home with my second state championship my job will be finished. And you will see some emotion.”
Marcus is the oldest of eight siblings. All of their names start with the letter M, just like their parents and even the family dog.
Golf is more than just a chance to win some trophies. For Marcus, it goes back to when he first picked up a club. Golf gives him a chance to connect more deeply with his dad, and especially, his grandpa.
“I feel like that was definitely a special bond because I love my grandpa and I tell him everything,” Smith said. “We always talk about everything. I feel like I can talk to him about anything out there, regardless if it’s bad or good. I also like playing with my dad a lot. He’s not as able to play basketball as much anymore. We used to play that a lot. He used to beat me sometimes but he can’t beat me anymore.”
Not too many people can beat Marcus on the golf course on any given day. Marcus maintains a mindset of making one more memorable moment in his Winnebago golf career.