Classroom Work Ethic Pays Off for Michael Wilson on the Golf Course
by John Sudsbury, California Media Relations
Michael Wilson is one of the most successful golfers in California history. However, he is not simply a natural talent who has always been a golf virtuoso. In fact, the senior from Pacific Grove, Calif., credits his classroom work ethic for helping him find success on the links.Growing up with a reading disability made school a significant challenge for Wilson. His parents never allowed it to be an excuse, fostering in him a set of values that pushed him in the classroom.
'Learning and reading came pretty hard for me,' Wilson said. 'With my family's help, I built a hard work ethic. It felt like I worked twice as hard to keep up, but from an early age, my parents always stressed university and a good education. I always strived for it. I always worked hard. My parents really emphasized education.'
The effort and determination paid off for Wilson. An honor student in mass communications at Cal, he has twice been named to the Pac-10 All-Academic team and, at the conclusion of last season, he became just the seventh Golden Bear golfer to be selected as an All-America Scholar by the Golf Coaches Association of America.
The interesting side effect of his drive in the classroom is the payoff on the golf course. Wilson, who was a key part of Cal's 2004 NCAA championship squad, has won three individual titles in his Golden Bear career to match a school record. His most recent crown came at Cal's own Alister MacKenzie Invitational in the fall, when he opened the event with a six-under 65 en route to an 11-under par 202. The strengths of his play are his short game and putting ability, two skills that have been honed through many hours of practice.
'As a golfer, I never really thought of myself as having a lot of natural talent,' Wilson said. 'I have tried to make the most of what I have. The work ethic I learned in the classroom falls into all parts of my life. I think I have to work harder, at everything.'
'When we recruited him, he had a reputation as somebody who would commit himself to getting things done,' head coach Steve Desimone said. 'Michael has lived up to that. When you put the effort in like he has, in school and golf, good things are going to happen.'
As the conclusion of his distinguished career comes to a close, Wilson hopes to slow things down and enjoy his last moments at Cal.
'We want to get back to the national championships,' he said. 'We have a good team and we want to make the regionals this year and then get to the national championship again. For myself, I need to just relax and have fun, take it one shot at a time.'
Regardless of further victories on the courses, Wilson has assured himself a successful conclusion to his Cal experience.
'I really wanted to be a good student more than anything,' Wilson said. 'I think that is what I'm most proud of. My time at Cal has been everything I hoped it would be. I feel like I've grown a lot. Coming out of Cal says a lot about you.'