Marinette’s Ty Kretz (bottom) signs his letter of intent to play golf for South Dakota State University, Wednesday at Marinette High School. Pictured with Kretz is his father and coach Pete (left), brother Trey (top center) and mother Amy (right).

EagleHerald sports writer

MARINETTE— Marinette’s Ty Kretz signed his letter of intent to play division one golf with the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits.

In most years, if a student-athlete doesn’t visit a school, their chances of getting a scholarship from that school become slim. However, 2020 and 2021 fail to qualify as “most years.” Prior to ultimately deciding on taking his talents SDSU, Kretz said he did not visit South Dakota State University because of COVID but visited the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and Marquette University.

“I had to do virtual tours online and SDSU coach Casey VanDamme helped me out a lot by explaining a lot of things and showing me things on facetime and stuff like that,” Kretz said. “But I visited Green Bay and I visited Marquette University. Those were only two other visits I had”

Kretz said that having his recruiting process limited to the virtual world proved challenging.

“Obviously it is a lot more challenging to experience the college experience when everything is laid out just over a small phone screen but coach Casey gave me a really good representation of how everything goes and what the program looks like and how everything is run. So they did a great job that way,” he said.

Kretz credited Marinette High School history teacher Lucas Maulding for reaching out to VanDamme, who is from the Upper Peninsula.

Kretz said that his new coach’s connection to the area, and the schedule that the Jackrabbits play, were factors in choosing SDSU.

“They play a little better schedule than Green Bay does,” he said. “They play a lot of Pac-12 and Big 10 teams and they have tournament up in the U.P.”.

Success does not happen overnight and neither did it for Kretz. He dedicated himself to hard work and surrounded himself with successful golfers in order to develop from being an eighth grader with a dream, to the No. 1 ranked youth golfer in the state of Wisconsin, before getting the chance to golf at the collegiate level.

“I worked really hard ever since I was little. I knew I wanted to play in college. I knew what I had to do and it’s definitely not easy to get there,” Kretz said. “Many people try and you have to have the will to succeed and you also have to have a talent to succeed. Just before high school, I really started taking it seriously. Ever since eighth grade, I started practicing a lot more. Some members from Little River Country Club, they really taught me how to play the rules a lot and how to get better—playing with them because they’re better golfers. I think Little River Country Club helped me that with a lot. Just being around all the members and learning from them. A lot of the older members from Little River helped me mature. They just taught me a lot and how to play golf the correct way.”

Kretz also credits success to his strong mental game.

“That’s what got me this far. I can come back from having a not so good to whole to making four birdies in a row. I can come back pretty easily,” he said. “I just let that bad swing go and just keep coming back and do my best to finish up the round as strong as I can. Shooting like eight-under, a lot of people can go two under, I think in my mind I want to go low as possible. I was looking to make a birdie on every hole and just keep attacking, not take my foot off the gas”

Not lacking in confidence, Kretz already has goals in mind for his career at SDSU.

“I want to make that starting five, that’s my starting goal. I want to average under 75 for at least my freshman year, that’s my main goal, and continue to get better throughout my whole career there.”

Before Kretz becomes a Jackrabbit, there’s his senior season to wrap up.

“My goal is for the team to make it to state and just do the best we can at state. I want do my best to compete for the top spot at state also,” Kretz said. “The only other person to win state in golf for Marinette is Andy Cegelski. It’s been a goal for a while to join his club. It is our last shot to do it and hopefully I can accomplish that goal.”

Always humble, Kretz made sure to offer praise to the people that helped him along his journey.

“I want to thank everyone that helped me get this far. A lot of members at Little River Country Club, my family and lot of close friends that are following me and just always helping me out,” he said.

Kretz also wished to thank Glen Reinke, Kenny Gressel, Oscar Burnett, Scott Marineau, Bob Kohn, Steve Cheney, Jim Wagner, Dale Race and many more. He also credited Fore Their Future, an organization that helped him from a young age.