Minnesota Duluth linebacker Nate Pearson was with friends just before noon Wednesday at Proctor Golf Course when he teed up for the first time on the day and let it rip with his 5-wood.
Pearson, of Lake Nebagamon, hit it square and his aim was true, but he lost sight of his Srixon 2 when the ball landed on the green. He thought it was probably on the green, or perhaps just over, but nope, he aced Proctor’s 253-yard par-4 first hole.
How’s that to start your day?
“What a feeling, honestly,” Pearson said in a phone interview Thursday, the smile on his face apparent by the tone of his voice. “Whenever you hit one onto the green you can’t see, you’re like, ‘Ah, I’ll check the hole just in case,' kind of jokingly. When I got to the hole I was just in shock. I didn’t really know what to do.”
What ensued was mayhem.
Pearson was joined by UMD inside linebacker Jack Peterson, roommate and best friend from high school, Jared Anttila, and Matt Stafford, Jared’s sister’s boyfriend. They played a scramble, and Pearson and Peterson were teammates.
“The moment we both figured out it was my ball, we kind of lost our minds,” Pearson said, laughing. “We did like a flying chest bump. It was a lot of fun.”
Proctor Golf Course is a friendly course, with a par of 33 for nine holes and no par 5s. Hole No. 1 is a slight dogleg left.
“It’s pretty straight on every hole and distance-wise it’s not too challenging," Pearson said. "It’s just a lot of fun to play that course.”
Anttila and Stafford got the last laugh, finishing with a 3-under 30, while Pearson and Peterson shot even-par 33s.
Pearson plays Proctor Golf Course more than any other. The reason is simple: He’s in college, and it’s cheap. At Proctor, a season pass for players ages 18 to 24 is just $100. Pearson can’t afford not to play there.
“Honestly, that’s the cheapest golf we can find,” Pearson said. “That’s just an amazing deal you can’t beat.”
Between him, Peterson, Anttila and another UMD football player, Beau Reder, they go there twice a week. Pearson estimates he has played 30-plus nine-hole rounds at Proctor this year alone. Pearson has played more golf this year than any before.
Pearson works as a server at Tavern on the Hill in Duluth, but on the days he hasn’t worked, and with no football going on with COVID-19, he has often found himself golfing 18 holes or more.
“That’s what I miss most,” Pearson said of football.
Some golfers play their entire lives and never get an ace, like Pearson’s father, but some guys have all the luck. Count Nate Pearson in the latter category.
The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Pearson is quite the athlete. He could long jump 22 feet when he competed in track and field at Northwestern High School and run the 100 meters a shade over 11 seconds. His father, Gary, and older brother, Grant, were excellent golfers, both advancing to the state meet.
“But I ran track,” Pearson explained. “Golf was never really my thing, but recently in college, I’ve just been devoting a lot of time to it. It’s a wonderful summer activity, and in the spring and fall, and especially after football. It’s something I’ll be able to do the rest of my life.”
While Pearson has been golfing like Tiger Woods this summer, don’t think he hasn’t been lifting weights, too. The All-NSIC linebacker said he feels bigger, faster and stronger heading into his senior season, having pumped iron at his girlfriend’s parents’ in-home gym even when campus was closed.
So Bulldogs fans, don’t worry. He’s ready.
“Oh no, my priorities are straight,” Pearson said, laughing. “It goes school, football and whenever I have some free time, I try to get some golf in. I’m feeling the best I’ve ever felt.”
Acing a par 4 will do that for you.