Becoming the leader of the North Dakota State golf team will be Connor Holland’s toughest challenge in his college athletic year.
Attending NDSU, the junior will be the only student-athlete who has been in the Bison golf program for more than two years. Next season he must take on the role of the team leader.
His teammates have already noticed his leadership journey start late this season.
“I can definitely tell that he’s starting to lead the team at the end of the season,” freshman Keaton Lausch said. “Obviously, he is going to be the leader next season. So he’s going to have to set the pace for the rest of us, and we’re just going to have to follow his lead.”
Holland said next season will be a challenge, but winning is top priority.
“I just want to get a good team chemistry going and really get back to a winning culture and really try to build off that,” Holland said.
Holland’s teammates aren’t the only ones sighting his early leadership skills.
“I’ve noticed from last year to this year he’s trying to work with some of the younger guys and become more of a leader for next year,” head golf coach Steve Kennedy said. “(Holland is) going to have to tell everyone what Bison golf is about – from example, most of it – show them what it takes not only on the golf course but in the weight room, and just how you act on trips and just everything that makes up a Bison golfer.”
Low golf scores, small mistakes, consistency and dedication are what make up a Bison golfer.
In 27 rounds this season, Holland’s scoring average is 75.9 and career average as a Bison golfer is about one stroke higher at 76.6 in 81 rounds.
Holland is the No. 2 golfer on the team statistically. Kennedy said he has improved every year but has some weaknesses heading into his senior season.
“Connor is one of the most steady players that we have every time we tee it up,” Kennedy said about Holland’s mentality. “He works hard at his game. He’s dedicated and tries to improve every day out.”
Holland said, even though he is a consistent golfer, there is always room for improvement.
His coach is counting on him to be at his best next season.
“You can’t get complacent I guess. You’ve got to get better every single year,” Holland said. “Coach is counting on you. That is obviously one of my goals is getting better every year.”
Kennedy said Holland has a few swings that will get him in trouble and will ruin a good round.
“With Connor, most of the time he will hit good shots, but he’ll maybe pick the wrong club,” Kennedy said. “So, we will be standing there watching him take the shot, ‘God, that’s a great shot,’ and then all of the sudden it ends up 30 yards behind the green in a hazard or tough to get up and down and he will make a double or a triple.”
But being left-handed doesn’t have anything to do with the poor shots that come off the face of his golf club.
“Being a lefty is kind of a curse in golf just because, I mean, you can’t really try (another’s) club, but … its not a huge deal,” Holland said. “It’s kind of cool just to be kind of the only lefty on the team.”
With all the NDSU competition mostly located in warmer states, including the Summit League Championship, Holland and his teammates have to practice indoors.
“You’ve just got to know that people down south aren’t taking any time off, and that’s who we are competing against,” Holland said about practicing in the offseason. “So I know it’s hard, but just getting in the bubble during the winter and keeping the swing so it doesn’t feel like a foreign object is really key. It comes back pretty quick in the spring if you do that.”