On the golf course, Michael Crowley has been a fast learner.
The Calvert Hall junior, who only decided to begin taking golf seriously two summers ago, had a major break through this spring at the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association Stroke Play Championships by posting a two-day total of 144 (73-71) to win by five shots.
After spending the spring of his freshman year playing junior varsity lacrosse for the Cardinals, Crowley decided to shift his focus to the links and he hasn’t looked back.
“I got pretty good very quickly,” Crowley said about his golf game. “I was having a lot of fun with it and just that summer between my freshman and sophomore year — because I played lacrosse that spring of my freshman year — I just figured out that ... [lacrosse] didn’t seem to be something that I wanted to do anymore.
“Golf was just something that I was getting more and more excited about.”
While Crowley came into this spring having played just one year of varsity golf, making the Cardinals’ squad as a sophomore, Calvert Hall coach Drew Forrester said that he has the look and feel of an experienced golfer.
“He checks off all of the boxes for a junior golfer,” Forrester said. “He’s physically gifted, he’s fit — so he’s very athletic — which helps immensely. He’s very coachable and I don’t just mean coachable by me as his high school coach, but coachable by someone who would be working with him on his golf swing or some part of the game. He’s a quick learner. If you tell him something, you only have to tell him something once and he’s off working on it.”
In the MIAA championships at Eagle’s Nest Country Club in mid April, Crowley sealed the deal on his winning performance by closing with a 1-under par round. But it was his first-day performance, despite being two strokes higher, that Forrester was more impressed with.
“The one where he shot 73 in the 35-mph winds on Monday, that was way more impressive [to me] than the 71,” Forrester said. “And the 73, I think he had four or five three-putts. That 73 could’ve been a spectacular round.”
Forrester quickly added though that Crowley’s poise throughout the back nine in the final round was special in its own right.
“I thought what he did down the stretch the second day was really impressive, where he made a bogey on the 15th hole and he knew coming in that he was going to have to play solid the last three holes. He played the last three holes expertly — middle of the green, two putts.”
On the 17th hole, the one hole he didn’t two-putt coming in, he made birdie with just one putt.
His solid play throughout allowed him to stay comfortably ahead of the trio of Trent Geritz (Loyola Blakefield), Lou Baker (St. Paul’s) and Brandon Wilson (St. Paul’s) — who finished in a tie for second with two-day totals of 149.
Crowley said he loves “to play in the wind and the rain,” and that he didn’t shy away from the tough conditions throughout the tournament.
Despite being relatively fresh to the game, Crowley is looked up to as a leader on his team. He puts a lot of work in the weight room and at the driving range to continually become a better player and that work has paid off both individually and for the Cardinals’ team.
Calvert Hall ended up advancing to the MIAA A Conference championship this spring, eventually falling just short in the final against Loyola Blakefield, 14-7.
“I think a lot of times, people don’t really realize how much work golf is,” Crowley said. “I came from playing other sports — I played lacrosse, basketball and soccer all through my freshman year. I was in weights and conditioning and other things like that in all of those sports ever since I was growing up. It was something that’s always been a part of me and something that I carried over to golf.
“Golf is very difficult and you have to put in a lot of time to be really good at it. That’s something that I’m obviously trying to accomplish. So, I think it’s just really important to me and I know all of the other kids on my team want to be very good, especially some of the younger kids. I’m just showing them what it takes and the work that you have to put in and just embracing that and having fun with it.”