Athlete of the week: Sadie Martin, Elk River, golf: Better and better

Elk River senior Sadie Martin was conference meet and section meet medalist last year and tied for eighth place at the state meet. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

 

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

Sadie Martin plays golf with the joy and lightness of a dancer, which she also happens to be, along with the focus and intelligence of a straight-A student, which, yes, she also is.

“My goal is to always to do better than last time,” said Martin. Easier said than done, but the Elk River senior has always raised it a few notches at conference, section and state over the previous year through her career.

A co-captain in both dance and golf, she leads an Elk squad that has captured three consecutive NWSC titles and broke through to state last year. Last year she was section medalist and placed eighth at state, leading the team to fifth place.

Coach Dave Bleyhl never had a dancer on his team before in his 29-year tenure. “I’m sure dancing makes her legs stronger, so that helps her as a golfer,” said Bleyhl.

The coach is not above spoofing Martin’s other sport by doing goofy little dances for her now and then. “He’s always making fun of me,” she grins.

About her game, Bleyhl assessed: “Her driving is not great for distance, but she is accurate, always in the fairway. The best part of her game is chipping to the green. And she is a good putter.”

Bleyhl especially likes Martin’s self-control.

“She is so solid with the mental part of the game. She thinks everything through. If she is in trouble, she comes up with the most logical way to get out. She does not blow up, not any more.”

The 5-foot-4, 110-pound athlete was a varsity dancer three years and made all-conference this year. “I like to work out, and dance is a fun way to do that. And I love the team aspect of it. Golf is so individual and I love that, but the teamwork in dance is fun.”

Dance coach Alyssa Sha praised Martin as an athlete who “never limits herself” and works hard to achieve even what seems out of reach. She has the endurance to high-kick with control through the long routine and “makes difficult moves look easy” in jazz. As captain she was immersed in team concept, built relations with everyone, made sure the younger kids felt special, and “had the ability to handle conflicts that invariably occur when a team is under pressure.”

While Bleyhl hasn’t had any dancers before, he’s had a couple of Martins before, and wishes there were a few more. Sadie’s sisters Anne and Molly were half of the 2005 state championship team. Sadie, signed by Augustana, will be the third sister to play college golf. The girls grew up next to The Links at Northfork and spent much of their childhood golfing with their dad, Gordon. They have trekked to Arizona each winter to play. (Now it’s Texas, with Anne living there.)

“Growing up with my dad and sisters who all golfed helped me improve so much,” reflects Sadie. “I always tried to keep up. We often did little competitions to make it fun.”

Sadie watched most of their tournaments that great season, but missed the final 18 holes at state “because I had dance team tryouts that day!”

On varsity since seventh grade, she had two learning years on losing teams before the Elks hit their stride again. They’re unbeaten in the NWSC the last three years, and she won the conference meet individually twice.

Martin averaged low 90s as a freshman, low 80s as a soph and 78.6 as a junior, with career lows of 35 for nine and 74 for 18.
In conference she placed fourth with 90, then won with 80 and 79 the next two years. In sectionals she’s been fourth with 168, fourth with 155, and first with 156. At state, she was 69th with 193, then 40th with 88-86–174 and eighth (tie) with 82-87–156.

Martin calls herself “just a steady player,” able to hit down the middle, land on the green in regulation and usually two-putt. She hopes to amp things up a little this year. “I’m trying to get more distance, because I’ll be playing longer courses next year. And I’ve always been a ‘par’ person so I want to make more birdies this year.”

THE MARTIN SCORECARD

Personal file – Age: 18 … Family: parents, Gordon and Jody; sisters, Anne, 25; Molly, 23 … Sports: dance team, golf … Other activities: NHS, Spanish Club (officer) … Academics: just over 4.0 GPA … College plans: Augustana College, biology, golf … Career ambition: dentist

Favorite stuff – Classes: anatomy, physiology, chemistry, biology … TV show: “Desperate Housewives” …  Music: country, especially Keith Urban; listening to Cities 97 … Food: D’Amico and Sons, especially spaghetti and bread … Athletes:  Tiger Woods, Ai Miyazato.  …. Reading: Jodi Picoult novels, Golf Digest … Kickback activity: Golfing with her boyfriend  … Wants to visit: “I’d love to play Pebble Beach, and, as much as I hate Augusta for their no-women rules, Augusta National, too.”

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