Consider Concordia junior Reid Wiebe the Happy Gilmore of GPAC golfers. No, Wiebe does not stutter step his way into his tee shot, but his powerful drives are enough to make Shooter McGavin jealous. Wiebe attacks par fives with the tenacity of a Seward squirrel on an acorn.
Says head coach Brett Muller, “Reid definitely takes advantage of the par fives with how far he hits the ball off the tee. He can take some different angles off the tees that a lot of other golfers cannot take just with how far he hits the ball.”
The Bulldog version of the amazing golf-ball-a-whacker-guy hardly gave Concordia a look during or immediately after his standout prep career at Sutton Public High School. Wiebe’s impressive high school run, which included a Nebraska Class C-2 state individual title as a sophomore, led to a golf scholarship at NCAA Division I University of Nebraska-Omaha.
In his only season of competition at UNO (2012-13), Wiebe shot an average score of 79.8 over six rounds while hovering on the fringes of the five-man varsity lineup. Wiebe’s decision to subsequently leave the Mavericks was about more than his ability to crack the top five. He wanted a place that put him more at ease.
Says Wiebe, “I would say a lot of the pressure is off my shoulders being at Concordia compared to where I was.”
Now beginning his second season playing for Muller, Wiebe has found comfort and is a fixture near the top of the lineup. Last year as a sophomore, Wiebe rode his gargantuan drives to an all-conference season. His average round of 77.7 ranked second best on the team.
The 2014-15 campaign ended with Wiebe carding a 73 thanks to an eagle on his 18th hole. Wiebe called it “probably the best shot I’ve ever hit in my life.” That shot helped put aside some of the frustration that had built during a season that came with highs and lows for Wiebe.
But for the most part, there’s little the soft-spoken, mild-mannered Wiebe has to complain about.
“My experience has been pretty good so far,” Wiebe said. “We got off to a good start in the fall season. We had the lowest score in the school’s history with a 300 at one of our tournaments. Shooting that low of a score was pretty nice. Getting contributions from four guys was definitely a key for us. Whenever we can play a solid round of golf – 75, 76 – is really good for us. If we can keep that going throughout this season we should be pretty good.”
Wiebe’s arrival on campus in the fall of 2014 represented a huge coup for Muller. The fifth-year head coach knew all about Wiebe’s ability coming out of Sutton Public. It was clear that Wiebe would have the chance to perform at an NCAA Division I school if he chose to.
After making the decision to leave the UNO golf team, Wiebe transitioned to simply being a student. However, he was not ready to give up on collegiate athletics. He wanted to find somewhere to play baseball. He even filled out a recruiting form with interest in joining Concordia head baseball coach Ryan Dupic’s program.
Dupic discussed Wiebe with Muller. Knowing of Wiebe’s résumé on the golf course, Muller jumped at the chance to pitch the idea of playing golf at Concordia. The Bulldogs’ chances were boosted by the presence of Shawn Rodehorst, who had known Wiebe growing up. Rodehorst went to work on Wiebe, who eventually became sold.
“Last July he filled out some questionnaires,” Muller said of Wiebe. “Coach Dupic got his questionnaire and gave me the heads up on him. I knew he was probably a better golfer than baseball player. He and Shawn already knew each other so Shawn was a big part of getting Reid here at school. It actually wasn’t until about last August that Reid became a Bulldog.”
The exercise science major and three-time high school state tournament qualifier brings credibility – and then some – to a rising program. There’s plenty of talent and depth to move up from last season’s sixth-place team GPAC finish. With an improved short game, Wiebe expects to ascend from his 16th-place slotting on the 2014-15 conference leaderboard.
“We’re definitely on the rise,” Wiebe said. “I think we have a lot of good guys and a lot of pieces to fill in this year. We’ll see where things go. The sky’s the limit for us. It depends on how hard we work.”
Even the sky may have trouble limiting tee shots from Wiebe, who has already begun his assault on white, round rubber objects this 2015-16 season. How far will the Bulldogs go? Perhaps as far as a mammoth, whistling Wiebe drive down the fairway.