Pickerel follows family tradition

Erik Bell and Erik Bell

Craig Pickerel did not have much of a choice growing up. His athletic path was pretty much set before him before he could hold a club.

“When I was growing up, my Dad was the varsity golf coach for Genoa High School,” Pickerel said. “Because of this I would always go to the team practices with him.”

Not only was his dad the coach of the golf team, but the rest of his family also had a love affair for the game.

“My two older brothers and older sister played golf so I was always out on the course trying to be competitive with them,” Pickerel said. “From doing this I learned to play and love the game of golf.”

Pickerel carried that love throughout his young life until he became a star for the Genoa golf team. Pickerel was named to the second team Northwest District after earning first team Ottawa County honors in 1999. Pickerel was also a first team selection of the Suburban Lakes League in 1998 and 1999.

Although Pickerel was very successful in high school, one of the big things that he had to adjust to when he made the jump to Bowling Green was the increased level of competition.

“He came to me as a guy that didn’t have that much experience with the big time competition,” head coach Garry Winger said.

With this in mind, Pickerel sat out the first year to play with his teammates and improve his game. Winger feels that Pickerel’s hard work during this time has led him to where he is today. “Craig has been great on the course and off the course,” Winger said. “He has worked so hard at it.”

“The old saying that everybody uses is hard work pays off, and that definitely applies here. He’s worked hard at it and he deserves everything he gets.”

Pickerel has used that hard work to show steady improvement in his game. Pickerel carded the lowest average among all of the Falcons in the fall season of 2002 with a 72.36 average. This showed great improvement from his first year of action when he averaged a 76.23 in 22 rounds of play.

More impressively, Pickerel set a new Falcon record with a 54-hole score of 208 at the Xavier Provident Invitational in the fall of 2002. In that tournament, Pickerel carded two rounds of 68 which still stands as Pickerel’s personal best. Ironically, the 54-hole score broke the previous record held by his coach, Garry Winger. Pickerel feels the reason for his continued improvement falls between the ears.

“In the last year, I feel that I have improved mentally,” Pickerel said. “With the competitive schedule that Bowling Green plays, I have been fortunate enough to play with some of the best players in the country. By doing this I have been able to develop my game and play at a higher level.”

The Falcon golf program has struggled as of late and is below the expectations that Winger has set for the program. However, Pickerel feels that with Winger in charge, the program’s shape is heading up.

“Coach Winger was a member of the Falcons golf team prior to becoming our coach, so he understands what is necessary for our team to be successful. He is working hard with our team to develop our program and take it to the next level.”

Pickerel could be one of the players that takes the program to the next level. But Pickerel thanks his parents for the guidance he has received.

“I feel that my parents have had the biggest impact in my life,” Pickerel said. “My father is the person who introduced me to the game and both my parents have always taken me across the country to play in junior tournaments.”

With the right guidance, anyone can achieve their goals. Craig Pickerel is a shining example of that.