Local Golf: Bearcat Alum Alexander Ends Spokane Career on High Note
MOVING ON UP: Will Alexander Playing for Whitworth in Fall After Two Years of Golf at Spokane
By Matt Baide
As the season wound down, Will Alexander was playing some of the best golf of his life, helping him complete his collegiate golf career at Spokane Community College.
In the NWAC Championships on May 19-20, Alexander shot a two day total of even par, shooting a 74 (+2) in the first round before carding a 70 (-2) in the second round to finish the tournament in a tie for fifth.
“I thought overall it was pretty good. The first day, there were some ball striking issues, but made some putts,” Alexander said. “I was fine with it, it was good.”
Spokane had two players in the Top 5 but North Idaho had five players in the Top 10 to earn the team title.
“Overall, I thought we fought really hard. Obviously NIC (North Idaho) played pretty good at the NWAC Championship which isn’t always easy to catch up to,” Spokane coach Corey Prugh said. “I like to look at the year as a whole, not necessarily how you finish up that last event. We won three events coming into that tournament and we won the league play which is kind of a culmination of the whole year. I would have loved to put that NWAC trophy on the mantle as well but next year we’ll get it.”
That trophy will be earned without Alexander, now that he has finished off his Spokane career. In his senior year at W.F. West, Alexander finished seventh in the State 2A golf tournament. That performance earned the attention of recruiters and Alexander eventually decided to go to Spokane CC.
When Alexander first arrived in Spokane, it took some adjustment to get used to his new surroundings.
“My freshman year was kind of tough for me moving away from home and stuff but sophomore year was good,” Alexander said. “It’s definitely a lot different, going away from home and doing your own thing for a little bit. I figured it out I guess the second year a little bit.”
Alexander’s typical day started with class in the morning and practice in the afternoon followed by homework and hanging out with his teammates in the house they lived in.
Spokane coach Corey Prugh was not the coach that recruited Alexander to Spokane, but he took over right before the beginning of Alexander’s freshman season.
“He was a little new to golf, not as in that he hadn’t played but he hadn’t competed as much as most kids his age, which is kind of what we get at times at the community college. We find kids, at least what I’m learning in recruiting is finding kids that have the potential and just need to keep learning and keep playing a little bit more,” Prugh said. “He did a lot of things physically well and we’ve worked really hard in the last couple years on learning how to play golf and I know that sounds weird but golf takes a lot more than figuring out how to hit it down the fairway and on the green and in the hole but when, why and where to hit shots. I worked on that a lot with Will.”
It took Will some time to adjust to his new schedule with a golf and school balance but the proof was in the practice as Alexander noticed his game was improving and he was maintaining his grades in the classroom.
“I feel like the time I put in, we have really good coaches obviously, they helped out a lot and I feel like the time I put in in college was a lot more efficient than high school,” Alexander said. “
It took a while my first year, kind of balancing out a little bit, being away from home, no one to remind you about deadlines or nothing. College is a little different but I figured it out.”
He remembers his first college golf hole as a bittersweet memory.
“I remember my first hole I played, I hit a good drive,” Alexander said. “It was a Par 5, I was on the green in two, three putted for par. First drive, first putt, you’re always a little bit nervy I guess.”
Alexander worked his freshman year to improve his putting, which he said was something he wasn’t always great at. Between his freshman and sophomore season, Alexander noted some swing changes he made, most notably to a shorter swing with a slight adjustment in his grip.
“The best thing I can do as a coach is to help people understand what they’re doing with their swing. Why a shot comes out, how to hit a shot, we haven’t done a ton in what I would call changing his swing, but helping him learn what it means if that makes sense,” Prugh said. “He’s done a good job coming into his own learning, what shots he’s able to hit, how to use those to his advantage on the golf course.”
It has been said that golf is only 10 percent physical while the other 90 percent of the game is mental. Prugh, who has played in a PGA Championship and has a lot of golf experience, was able to help Alexander improve his mental game as well.
“We were playing in a pro-am about a month, month and a half ago, and he was like how do you feel like my game is? I said, ‘Will, I think your game is great. The biggest part what you need to do is just trust and believe that it’s great,’” Prugh said. “Not saying it did or didn’t but I think he kind of took hold of that and he won our second to last event and he actually struggled to start but looks like he let it go and trusted and believed to finish off the last event to finish a couple under in fifth place. It’s a huge part of golf, as you know being a golfer, is believing you can do all the things needed to get around a golf course.”
Alexander finished in the Top 20 in the final five events of the season. He finished 19th at the Walla Walla University Invite at the end of March, shooting 77-79-75 (+15). He finished in a tie for 14th at the Walla Walla Invitational on April 15-16, carding rounds of 74 and 75 (+3). Spokane hosted a league match on April 21-22, finishing in a tie for seventh by shooting 76-75 (+7).
In the Highline Showdown on May 5 and 6, Alexander won his first collegiate golf tournament.
“It was good, it was definitely a lot of fun, getting my first college win. A little nervous, but overall it was good. I hit some good shots coming down and I made some putts,” Alexander said. “I noticed it most like, my putting. I made a few good putts but then I three putted from about 10 feet I guess. I feel like when you’re under pressure, your putts go a little bit shorter.”
He shot a 73 (+1) in the first round but followed it up with a 69 (-3) in the second round to end the tournament 2-under par.
“Really impressed. I was really excited for him, gaining some confidence and seeing some of the fruits of his labor if you will come out and get some good results so I was really impressed,” Prugh said. “I mean, he didn’t have a perfect first year or even beginning of the second year so he kept working on it and found his way per se and as you know, golf, once you kind of gain confidence in what you’re doing, skies the limit.”
Alexander finished his Spokane CC golf career at the NWAC Championships with another quality outing. He used his strong season to earn a spot on the golf team at Whitworth University, going to play for coach Scott Kramer, who recruited him to play at Spokane CC.
Alexander will miss his teammates the most, but he’ll still be in Spokane when he plays for Whitworth. He attributes some of his improvement on the course to his teammates.
“Our team is super close. We all live together, we do a lot together, it was good. We had a pretty good solid team, did a lot together,” Alexander said. “I’d say that’s what’s made me kind of getting better at golf is competing with them every day.”
With two years under his belt and two more years to go in collegiate golf, Alexander’s career appears to be blossoming.
“I think he’s got a bright future ahead of him. He’s believing more and more in himself and his golf game,” Prugh said. “I think there will be good things in the future, especially at Whitworth. I’m excited and fortunately, Whitworth is in Spokane so I’ll see plenty of Will.”