Not that long ago, Michael Balzer was more worried about slap shots than chip shots. But now, this former Bismarck High athlete is totally committed to his golf career. So committed that he moved southeast, which is where WSAV Sports Director Ken Slats talked with Balzer in Bluffton, South Carolina.
"I expect a lot. I know all of these greens. I know the lines off the tees. I have a good game plan going into it, definitely high expectations," says Michael Balzer.
"21-year old Michael Balzer recently became a Berkeley Hall resident. Although he has spent a lot of time on the tees, fairways and greens he hasn't been around nearly as much as you may think," says WSAV sports director Ken Slats.
"Last summer, I think I played three events. And this summer, I'm playing seven in a row. Sunday finishes it, and Monday I hop on a plane and fly to Texas. The game hasn't traveled with me but it's coming around. It's a learning curve," says Balzer.
"Unlike most kids, Michael Balzer picked up the game of golf late, very late. His love and true passion was body checks and slap shots. After all, what's a kid born and raised in North Dakota doing playing golf?"
"In 2008, I quit playing hockey in North Dakota, and I wanted to start playing golf so my dad and I came down for a summer camp at IJGA, and I fell in love with it. I want to play golf for a living. That's what I want to do. I want to turn pro, and it wasn't happening in North Dakota. I don't have enough time to practice. I miss the adrenaline, the rush of playing on the ice with a crowd. It's sad when you're out on the golf course, and it's so quiet. And when you're on the ice and score a goal or hit someone hard, you get that crowd behind you pumping you up and miss that side of hockey," says Balzer.
"His strides on the course have some from that competitive fire he developed on the rink. Balzer says he slipped on skates even before he wore tennis shoes and developed power like an NHL forward," says Slats.
"The slap shot in hockey correlates a lot in golf. If you read articles or Golf Digest, they always say hockey players, for some weird reason, over any other athletes have more power in golf. And it's true. I'm not a big guy. I don't stand very tall. But not many of these guys can hit it past me out here," says Balzer.
When Balzer left Bismarck after his junior year and the IJGA, he talked about the International Junior Golf Academy run by Hank Haney, a former coach of Tiger Woods. Berkeley Hall is a private golf facility that works with aspiring pro's. Guys like Rickie Fowler, Bill Haas, Ben Curtis and Camilo Villegas have all played there.