Out on the Links with Nick Berger
As the summer comes to a close, Prospectus headed out for a round of golf with Parkland’s 2014-2015 Male Athlete of the Year, golfer Nick Berger. Last time Berger was being interviewed for Prospectus, he was preparing for the trip to Alabama and a showing in the NJCAA Division II National Championship. After coming home with 35th place out of 120, he spent the summer working at Lake of the Woods and making the decision to attend McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois. Thankfully, Prospectus was able to get Nick for an interview and round of golf at Stone Creek in Urbana before he leaves for the upcoming school year.
Berger and I meet up on the practice tee early on a blustery gray morning that wasn’t looking good for golf.
“I was about to call and ask if you were still wanting to risk it,” he told me, looking up at the unfriendly clouds covering the sky. We both decided since we woke up and got here, it’s worth a try, and we head out to the first tee.
I tee up and we start talking about how the summer had been since the National Championships.
“I didn’t really play a lot of tournaments compared to other years. I did get second in [Lake of the Woods’] club championship. The guy who beat me set the course record one day, so it was hard to keep up with that,” he said, laughing.
After a little catching up and him going up three strokes early, we get to the challenging third hole, a devious par three that involves carrying 180 yards of water as well as avoiding a terrible, scrubby sand trap that wraps the whole right side of the green. The pleasantries cease as the wind pulls Berger’s tee shot right in the pond and I hit into the very back of the bunker. Morale is at a low point and the threatening storm clouds aren’t improving anything.
Spirits brighten though on the next hole when the foursome in front let us through, and we get to show off with some big hitting from the tee. We finally find a rhythm on the course and the sun even managed to make its way out finally. The conversation is mostly Berger insisting I build more “swagger” and confidence in my golf game, and our commonalities in both being homeschooled kids. He liked it a lot more than I did.
“It’s always suited me more. I like teaching myself and just having someone there to help. I’ve never been much for lectures,” he said.
The self-reliant tendencies from homeschooling also factored into his choice in McKendree and even the choice to start at Parkland.
“I actually had some other offers to four year colleges. I wasn’t really looking for something that big immediately coming out of being homeschooled my whole life. Even now, I was a little unsure about where to go since I really like the life I’ve put together here,” Berger said.
It turned out Berger’s talents don’t stop with golf. Not only did he play baseball, basketball, and soccer in high school, but he is a full time drummer for the church he attends. After finding my ball I hit into a marsh, he even added that he could be considered a “ball finding prodigy.”
We get to the 18th green and finish strong with Nick holing out a 15-footer, left handed and with the putter lined up backwards. We shake hands and head back to the cars, another day on the golf course.