Munster senior Matt Specht doesn’t get nervous before big matches anymore. The four-year varsity golfer has played in enough tournaments to where he’s built up his confidence on the links.
“I used to get nervous, but that nervousness has turned into excitement now,” he said. “I’m excited to play every day even if its just nine holes.”
His dedication to golf, a game he took up at age 11, has reaped rewards with a scholarship to Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. Specht signed with the Braves in November after considering his options with a couple other schools.
“It’s a small school, but it’s an up-and-coming program,” he said. “I want to get a good education, and I really like the coach, Jeff Roche. It just seemed like the right fit.”
Specht might have also been swayed by his sister, Kyela, who runs track and cross country for the Bradley.
Kyela, a record holder in the 800 and 1,600 meters at Munster, is a junior at Bradley.
Baseball was Specht’s first love, but once his dad introduced him to golf he found his true calling.
“I started playing golf and stopped playing baseball when I was 12 because I knew I was much better at golf,” he said. “I’ve been real competitive and started playing in some regional tournaments to get me where I am today.”
Where he is today hasn’t surprised Munster coach Bill Smitka.
“He hits it a long way, and he hits it straight,” he said of his No. 1 player. “He’s got all the tools to be a great golfer.”
Smitka said Specht started to turn some heads his junior year when he finished seventh overall with a round of 77 at the Legends Tournament in Franklin against some of the state’s best teams.”
Specht has played in every match since starting on varsity as a freshman
“He’s been a nice contributor since his freshman year,” he said. “… He’s really gotten better. We’ve got four seniors this year, and he’s been a big part of our success.”
Specht said he wouldn’t be where he’s at now without the guidance and support from his father, Brian, and coach Smitka.
“My dad has taught me just about everything about the game of golf,” he said. “He’s there for every tournament, and so is my mom. And coach (Bill) Smitka has been a great support. He’s a very good golfer, too. He’s a competitor, and we have some silent competitions at practice.”
Now Specht has his sights set on qualifying for the state finals, after missing the cut by one stroke at the Lafayette Regional last year.
“Yeah, that was really tough,” he said. “I was playing well, and then I had two 3-putts on the back nine.
“That’s my focus for this year. I have high goals for myself, getting to state is one of them. … I’m looking to advance to state and play well after the upset last year when I missed it by one.”