Although Ball State men’s golf has not fulfilled the expectations of its head coach, Mike Fleck, the Cardinals have found a hidden gem in freshman Jack Cunningham.
Originally expected to fill the role of fifth man for Ball State men’s golf team, Cunningham has steadily improved throughout the fall.
The Vincennes, Indiana native finished tied for 67th in his first tournament at Wolf Run, but progressed to a fourth place finish at the ODU/OBX Intercollegiate two weeks ago.
Cunningham stated that changes off the tee have allowed him to progress throughout the season. He focuses more on hitting the ball in the fairway to hit the greens more, rather than hitting it a longer distance.
“If you keep hitting greens to give yourself chances and make a couple of putts, it’s really hard to play bad,” Cunningham said. “You have to make [your shots] as simple as possible.”
Cunningham’s success has not been new to him, however. He was a three-time state finalist in high school at Lincoln High School in Vincennes. In his senior year at Lincoln, Cunningham also took home sectional and regional individual championships.
Cunningham also found success on amateur golf tours as well. He posted five top 10 and three top five finishes on the GolfWeek Junior Tour, and runner up twice in the Indiana Junior Golf Tour.
Fleck takes notice of Cunningham’s ability to adjust early in the fall season, and applauds his willingness to work hard in practice and learn the courses.
“He’s learned how to be more efficient and effective with his practice habits,” Fleck said. “He’s learning how to work on all areas in his game and it’s given him the confidence to perform better.”
Fleck also said that Cunningham has matured more as he gains more experience in practice and during tournaments. Fleck says that Cunningham does a good job handling his emotions, not letting bad shots or hole scores bother him.
Both Cunningham and Fleck agreed that Cunningham’s consistency in putting is something he needs to work on moving forward. He has 39 birdies so far during the fall, but has only finished one tournament with a score under par.
“[Cunningham] will admit that earlier during the season that was holding him back,” Fleck said. “With some of the work that he is putting at home, it’ll improve his confidence and he’ll improve [his putting].”
Fleck says that Cunningham’s hot start in the fall will continue to motivate him to try and get to the top spot on the team. Fleck expects to give Cunningham a larger role in the spring to help elevate the team.
However, Cunningham was one to shy away from what spot he plays on Ball State’s lineup.
“I don’t get too caught up with where I play in the lineup,” Cunningham said. “I’m just doing whatever I can to make my scores count and help the team.”
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