If you take one look at Alex Gauthier's golf swing at the driving range, his power is immediately evident.
Even though the Munster sophomore isn't the biggest kid on the team, he's almost always the longest off the tee.
"I worked all throughout the winter and I think (my game) has really improved, especially in distance off the tee," Gauthier said. "That's really helped me score, because I can hit wedges and get to the greens."
Gauthier has improved his average driving distance about 40 yards since last season, and now can routinely drive the ball at least 300 yards. His drives are also low to the ground, traveling nearly unaffected by the wind.
That increased distance off the tee has allowed Gauthier to cut six strokes off his average 18-hole round, finishing around 80 each time.
"It's incredible," Munster coach Bill Smitka said of Gauthier's steady improvement. "I think part of it is just he's not a freshman. Last year, everything was new. It was his first time going to Beechwood (for the LaPorte Regional), it was his first time playing in sectionals. He's got a year of experience under his belt, and he's in much better physical shape. I think he's just matured beyond his years. He never seems rattled. He's very intense, but he's composed."
As a team, the Mustangs don't have a clear-cut star. All five varsity players are capable of catching fire on any given day and shooting in the 70s on 18 holes.
"I think we've gotten steadily better as the year has gone along," Smitka said. "It's kind of nice. We really are a five-man team. We just need two guys to go low and two guys to hit their average. That's a good spot to be in. (Gauthier) makes a lot of birdies. That's what you need out at Beechwood."
Last season at the LaPorte Regional, Gauthier shot an 83 to help lead the Mustangs to 316 strokes, just two shots off qualifying for state as a team. Being that close last season was heartbreaking, but Gauthier is determined to help his team break through that barrier.
"It gives me the feeling that we can do it, especially looking at past year's averages that have gotten out," said Gauthier, who carries a 4.29 GPA. "Earlier, a few weeks ago, we played a practice round (at Beechwood). We all played really well (312 combined score). We believe that score can get us out, so we definitely know we can do it."