Marquette University's Nick Nelson tees off at the University of South Florida Invitational on Monday.

Family comes first for Marquette golfer Nick Nelson

Sophomore has plenty of support at USF Invitational

DADE CITY, FL – For Nick Nelson, Florida becomes a family affair when he play in a golf tournament.

While playing in his second day of the USF Invitational for Marquette University’s golf team, Nelson’s grandparents, mother, sister, and sister’s boyfriend were in town, watching him complete a round of 4-over.

His grandmother, Sandra Nelson, was especially proud to be watching, considering she was the one to spark his interest in golf in the first place.

“I think at first I mainly instilled a love of golf,” she said. “We hit over a pond in the golf course, then we’d stop and look at the fish in the pond and just place a ball and hit it over the water.”

Hitting balls over a pond can be fun when you’re young, but Sandra Nelson had better ideas to develop Nick Nelson’s game on their local course in Iowa.

“The hole was in the shape of the United States, then we’d maybe set out 12 balls and I’d say to Nick, ‘How about chipping to Massachusetts? Chip to northern California. Chip close to the Canadian border.’ So I think that made it a lot of fun.”

Nick’s grandmother stressed putting and the short game, and the advice didn’t fall on deaf ears.

“Whoever can make the most puts and chip it close, that’s who will end up scoring low,” Nick Nelson said.

Two double bogeys in a row on the back half ended any chance of him finishing the day on par.

Pressure to perform

One issue with having the entire family around is the pressure to perform. Nelson’s short game suffered through the front nine, hampering a few birdie chances. His putting was often coming up short.

“I think he feels that we’re more there as support. I don’t think it’s something that adds pressure to him,” said Nick’s sister, Sarah.

Even if her brother’s putting game suffers, Sarah Nelson said it would stabilize with his resolve.

“He never gives up. If he gets in a tough situation on the course he just grinds and rallies back.”

The future for Nick Nelson is uncertain, as he is yet to pick a major at Marquette. A law degree is attractive to the young Nelson, who expressed that he has no desire to golf professionally.

“I hadn’t planned on trying to go pro or anything. Just thinking of getting a good degree,” he said. “I see a lot of kids these days who really work at it at a young age and they get sick of it after a while.”