Ottumwa sophomore golfing sensation Matthew Walker added to his already impressive portfolio of accomplishments when he was named the Boys Class 4A Player of the Year award by the Iowa High School Golf Coaches Association.
Walker was the second lowest ranked golfer in the final IAHSGCA Class 4A ranking with a 36.61 adjusted stroke average. For Walker, it is a fitting end to an august season, which saw him take first at the Class 4A Boys State Golf Tournament — he finished five strokes better than his nearest competitor — and get named the IGA Junior Player of the Year (he nearly doubled the point total of the second place finisher). In addition, he also took first in districts and placed first in the Metro 7 Conference meet along with taking first at a number of invitationals — including Ottumwa’s home invitational — and duals.
When asked what intangibles set Walker apart from everybody else, first year-coach Scott Maas intitially had trouble answering the question because he said Walker had no weaknesses in his game. But after some thought, he said iron play was an area where Walker was even more proficient than he was in other areas of the game.
“He hit a lot of greens and gives himself a lot of chances to make birdies,” Maas said.
The coach, however, said the character traits that undergird Walker’s success have nothing to do with pure talent.
“I think the thing that separates him from everybody is his attitude and work ethic,” Maas said. “Based on his work ethic, I don’t see him doing anything but getting better.”
The sophomore was the cornerstone of the talented cast of characters who made up this year’s Bulldog golf team, which took third at state and second at districts. At one point, the Bulldogs took first in three-straight invitationals and won the Metro 7 Conference tournament by eight strokes.
While the Bulldogs will lose two valuable players — Jacob Gardner and Joe Wetrich — to graduation, Walker and several other prominent members of this year’s team will return next fall in what should be another exciting season.