ESCANABA - Kevin Gendron, who is already comfortable with golf in Upper Peninsula conditions, has decided to stay in his comfort zone to play college golf.
The Escanaba High School senior signed a golf scholarship to Northern Michigan University Thursday. He said coach Dean Ellis indicated he would likely be in the No. 4-5 slot when he joins the Wildcats.
"It is nice and close," Gendron said of playing at NMU, where he will likely pursue a degree in physical therapy.
The reigning MHSAA U.P. Division 1 champion was not contacted by any other school despite having a solid game and a bright future.
"If I wanted to play college golf, it is what it is," he said.
That easy-going attitude is also what shows through on the golf course, where he shot 1-over-par 73 at Marquette Heritage Golf Course to win the title last year.
"He hits the shot in front of him," said EHS coach Brian Robinette, a two-time U.P. Golf Association men's champion and recent golf inductee into the Olivet College Sports Hall of Fame.
"He doesn't get down, he doesn't get too up. I have a hard time telling if he made birdie or double bogey," Robinette said, indicating his "mental game" is his strong suit.
"He is a very good ball striker and hits the ball solid, which gives him an advantage in the wind and cold (of a typical U.P. round). He hits the ball solid often."
Gendron is also comfortable with his driver and long irons, but knows he must work on his short game.
"My short game is touch and go for me," he said of planning extensive work on his chipping. "I've always been pretty accurate with my driver but from 100 yards and in I have to try to get a little closer."
Robinette said he likes Gendron's putting stroke, but Gendron said he has adjusted his grip after discussions with Robinette.
"I'm liking it," he said. "My putting was never that good, but I'm getting comfortable with it (the new grip)."
Robinette is solid with his short game and spends extensive practice time with his players drilling them on techniques.
"At the next level you have to make sure of your short game from 100 yards in and stuff," he said. "That has to be something he never quits improving on. It has to be so good. It can't be average. It can't be a weakness, it can't be an Achilles heel at that level. The chipping and putting stuff covers up your mistakes."
Gendron said landing a golf scholarship is a dream that began in the last year or so.
"Last year or so it (golf and dream) actually started coming together," he said of breaking the 40s for nine holes. "I'm shooting lower and bringing it together."