Peyton Gatz stood on the practice green with a tee, a ball and his putter.
The Indian Creek sophomore spent his free time this summer at Indian Oaks Golf Club in Shabbona focused on his putting pace. Without a commanding physical presence that will allow him to bomb and gouge the golf course, Gatz placed an emphasis on accuracy and set a lofty goal to help lower his scores for his sophomore campaign.
“I don’t want to have any three-putts this year,” Gatz said. “I’ve spent the summer working on my speed. I put a tee behind the hole and don’t let the ball roll past it. I want to be able to take my two-putt and get out when I have to.”
If Gatz is around the green, he has the short game to get up-and-down for a par. But, as a freshman he’d run the ball too far past the hole with his putts. So, he worked to add more length off the tee, but knows that to be effective, he’s got to be good at the tricky finesse shots that can turn a good round into a great round if executed properly.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in my short game,” Gatz said. “It was three-putts that were my No. 1 disappointment last year. I’m not a long hitter, but have added some distance so I can be closer and hit a short iron or a wedge into the green.”
Indian Creek coach Dave Olson said experience can also help Gatz as he leads the Timberwolves lineup.
Every course was new for Gatz last year. This fall, he’ll know the good bail out spots, the best angle to hit approach shots into a green and which pins can be attacked.
“He played a lot in the summer and has worked on his game,” Olson said. “This year I want him to take the step forward to lower his average and make fewer mistakes.”
As high as his non-three putt standard is, Gatz has his eventual sights set even higher.
“My goal is to qualify for state,” Gatz said. “I practiced and played a lot this summer and hope to do it. I worked on my distance and hitting the ball further down the middle of the fairway. I want to get it in close because I have a good short game. I want to be ready to compete at state next year as a junior and place as a senior.”