When IU men’s golf coach Mike Mayer began searching for his 2006 recruiting class, senior Alex Martin, a Middletown, Ohio, native was a top priority.
An accomplished junior golfer on and off the course, Martin’s hometown is a little less than three hours away from Bloomington and seemed like the perfect fit to pursue his career as a student athlete.
However, the first step in the recruiting process took Mayer across the country to watch a young golfer who would blossom into an All-Big Ten player and a mainstay in the Hoosiers lineup all four years.
More than 2,000 miles way from Bloomington, Mayer headed out to San Francisco, Calif., to watch Martin compete in the United States Junior Amateur Championship.
Martin finished ninth place in the 2004 U.S. Junior and caught Mayer’s eye with his talent and demeanor on the golf course.
“I was immediately impressed with his nice, fluid golf swing, and I liked how it looked like he was enjoying himself on the golf course and was having some fun,” Mayer said.
Mayer said he continued to follow Martin throughout his junior career and is the earliest commit during his tenure.
“I’m not big on early commitments in golf, but he called me up and said he wanted to commit by July 1 (the day college coaches can call recruits) and tell other coaches that he was going to IU,” Mayer said.
Martin’s excellence on the course pales in comparison to his academic success off it, as he was a direct admit to the Kelley School of Business as a freshman.
Despite an accomplished junior career, Martin struggled early on in his freshman season.
However during the 2007 summer, Martin qualified for the U.S. Amateur and was the low amateur at the 84th Ohio State Open Championship.
Martin’s strong play during the summer before his sophomore year carried into the fall, when he played in all 42 rounds for the Hoosiers in 2007-08.
The pinnacle of Martin’s career came during his junior season when he captured the Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational.
“Winning at Olympia Fields was probably my biggest accomplishment because of the strength of field and the fact that it’s a U.S. Open course,” Martin said.
The Olympia Fields Invitational was the springboard for six top-10 finishes including the low player for IU in the NCAA Southeast Regional.
Martin’s accolades got him notice from across the U.S. when he was named Golfweek’s National Most Improved Player at mid-season.
Now in his final campaign, Martin’s role on and off the course has changed for the Hoosiers.
When Martin enrolled at IU as a freshman in 2006, he was thrown into the lineup with a loaded sophomore class of Jorge Campillo, Seth Brandon and Drew Allenspach.
The stage this year has been all Martin and he has led by example with his scores and game in front of his teammates.
“On the course he has one of the most consistent games that I have ever seen,” sophomore David Erdy said. “He has a great short game and is a great putter which are both keys to success.”
The Hoosiers lineup this season has included two sophomores and two freshmen in a majority of the tournaments forcing Martin into a leadership role.
“He has been a great fit and I love his attitude on the golf course,” Mayer said. “It’s a whole different set of circumstances without having Jorge out there getting all the attention.”
With the possibility of only three tournaments remaining in Martin’s career it is time to reflect what he will miss about his time at IU.
“I will miss most traveling with the team, plane trips and road trips with the guys,” Martin said.
An All-Big Ten performer in 2008-09, Martin will graduate from IU as one of the most accomplished golfers in IU history.
Martin will finish his degree from the Kelley School of Business this fall and will embark on a professional career soon after.
Mayer said he sees a future on the professional circuit for Martin, even though it might take some time.
“On the surface I have seen a lot of players come through and you never really know who is going to be successful at such a high level,” Mayer said. “But I think he’s got what it takes, it may take him awhile but I could see him as a journeyman that can be successful.”
For Erdy and fellow sophomore Chase Wright, next fall will be different around the IU golf course.
The player who has been a mainstay in the lineup during their young careers will no longer be there, but more will be missed than consistent low numbers.
“I have always been impressed with his confidence in himself, which is a huge component in life,” Erdy said. “He is a great asset to the team, and I will miss hanging out with him off the course. I will miss him as my friend.”