Patience is a virtue: a proverb which first-year golfer Justin Kapke learned during his senior year at Plymouth High School in Canton, Michigan.
“I hadn’t performed very well all season, and it was easy to give up after having a few bad tournaments,” said Kapke.
Despite a slow start, Kapke’s personal coach, Craig Piscopink, noted how things really turned around once Justin understood how patience plays into the sport of golf.
“He learned the importance of staying in the present moment and not pressing too hard,” said Piscopink.
Kapke’s patience paid dividends, as his senior season would eventually culminate in a second place individual finish at the 2017 MHSAA golf championships last spring.
As he would put it, “I stayed patient, didn’t give up and kept practicing hard.”
Those three reflections are only fitting when defining Kapke’s golfing career so far, a career that began around the age of five.
“My dad would take me to the range, and then eventually over to the course,” said Kapke. “I’ve pretty much been playing my whole life.”
Kapke attributes a great deal of his golfing to Piscopink, who has served as both his personal coach and mentor for the past six years. He considers Kapke’s success to be well-deserved.
“Justin is a very strong-willed, focused and driven individual,” said Piscopink. “What impresses me most is how he handles setbacks and failures. He seems to actually increase his motivation to push harder where others can easily get derailed.”
To put it simply, practice made perfect. “I practice in the summer, I practice every day, and just every year it’s gradual improvement,” said Kapke.
In addition to his individual skills, Kapke has also proven to be a powerful asset to any team. Since making the varsity team his sophomore year of high school, Justin helped the Plymouth Wildcats to three straight team state championship appearances, capped off by a third-place finish in 2017.
As his high school career was reaching an end, Kapke knew he wanted to continue playing at the collegiate level. Naturally, he had many options, including nods from coaches at Hope College and Carthage College. But after heavy recruiting from Albion head coach Jordan McArleton and a few campus visits, Kapke decided that Albion College was the right fit.
“Justin has been a fantastic addition to the team,” said McArleton. “Not only have his scores been leading us since day one, but his work ethic and practice habits have been a great model for the team.”
A prospective biology or statistics major, Kapke has made quite the name for himself within MIAA men’s golf. He has garnered two MIAA Athlete of the Week awards, consistently finished in the top 10 at tournaments throughout the season, and was recently named first team all-MIAA, an honor that hasn’t been earned by an Albion male golfer since 2011.
Although individual success is sweet, Kapke is still very much about the team. The Britons have finished anywhere from fifth to seventh overall at the multiple MIAA Jamborees this season. At the conclusion of the MIAA Fall Championship, Albion finished sixth of seven teams for the season.
At the championship, Kapke shot a 76. His 73.8-stroke average gave him a sixth-place individual finish in the MIAA.
Kapke also considers the senior class, including Ryan Bomya, Jim Chapman and Nick Leeman to be an integral part of his college athletics experience so far. “They kind of take you under their wing and show you around,” he explained.
Needless to say, Kapke is reaping the benefits of his patience, as he has used it to develop himself into one of the more successful golf players at Albion College. Although his time here is just getting started, it is obvious that his diligence and dedication to the sport will lead to a career that is well under par.
Photo courtesy of Albion Athletics