A legacy of birdies

How one golfer changed the program from finishing fourth to expecting to win MIAC Championships in four years.

By Conrad Engstrom | Sports Reporter

Alex Case’s jaw hit the floor as the celebrities filed out of the clubhouse at Hazeltine National Golf Club. It was Ryder Cup week, and Case got asked to caddie for the celebrity tournament. Growing up a mile from the course, he played Hazeltine regularly in high school. When Case got a text to go caddie for the celebrity golf event he could not say no.

“It was crazy. I was just standing like, ‘that’s Michael Phelps the greatest Olympian of all time.’ It was pretty surreal,” Case said.

On the day of the tournament, it took him 20 minutes to make the mile drive from his house to the course.

Once there, he reached into a hat and pulled a slip of paper with the name of the celebrity he would be caddying for: Huey Lewis. Case admits he had never heard of Huey Lewis, but he didn’t care. He was surrounded by famous people. He figured out that Lewis was a singer song-writer, and today Case regularly enjoys listening to Lewis. 

Case is a 5 foot 11 inch senior at Bethel, who at first glance does not seem like a guy who could win the longest drive competition at your local Country Club. He picked up golf when he was four-years-old because his dad needed a new hobby.

“My dad would go to the range and just bring me with,” Case said. “Now, my dad and I golf (together) so much.”

It did not take long for Case to catch up with his dad. At ten years old, he out-golfed his old man. Golfing has been a big part of Case’s relationship with his dad.

“He plays more rounds than me in the summer,” Case said.

Case’s love for the game has only grown since picking up the plastic set his dad gave him when he was four. He works hard. Bethel men’s golf coach Tony Weber tells how Case shot a 65 three weeks in a row at the par 70 Oak Marsh Golf Course in Oakdale, MN.

“The fourth week he had a putt for a 64 and missed. He was really angry he shot another 65,” Weber said. “It just shows how he is continually trying to get better and never settles.”

When he hits a good shot and he knows it, he doesn’t even watch it. He just gallops to his divot and picks it up before the ball even lands. Dallas Marvin

When Case is golfing, he’s all smiles, cracking jokes through the fairway and on the green. Some would call it cocky, but teammate Dallas Marvin calls it swagger.

“When he hits a good shot and he knows it, he doesn’t even watch it. He just gallops to his divot and picks it up before the ball even lands,” Marvin said. “So much swagger.”

Marvin admits that when he first met Case, he did not always like his swagger. He thought the jokes and talking made him cocky and unlikable. Now Marvin knows it is all about fun with Case. They have built a bond through cracking jokes and pulling pranks on teammates. They’ve made the golf team a fun, laid-back atmosphere.

“Case is just a little rascal that loves jokes almost as much as he loves birdies,” Marvin said.

And he loves birdies. Before Case stepped foot on the golf course as a Bethel University golfer, the program had not had a ton of success. After Case finished fourth in the MIAC his freshman year, he led the Royals to their first MIAC Championship in the 2014 season.

“Growing the program has been the greatest memory of playing golf here at Bethel,” Case said. “Winning the MIAC and going to nationals is something I will not forget.”

Coach Weber knew he had special player when he first saw Case hit a golf ball. He could not ask for a better four years out of a player. His achievements both individually and with the team are one thing, but how he has grown as a leader is what sets Case apart from the others.

“He pushes teammates to practice more and play more holes to help everyone get better,” Weber said.