Max Turnquist describes his childhood as being “different than other people’s.” Having one open heart surgery as an infant would more than justify this statement. Turnquist had three.
It wasn’t long after his birth when doctors discovered Turnquist had a congenital heart defect. While other kids his age were playing sports like football, basketball and soccer, he was stuck on the sidelines, held out of anything that had contact.
Baseball and golf were the only sports he could participate in. As it turns out, he didn’t need much else. He played both in high school, but it was his exceptional play in the latter that carried over into college.
If any sport requires its athletes to persevere, it’s golf. Perhaps that’s why Turnquist has been so successful at it. He’s been required to persevere since day one.
Turnquist is gearing up for the spring portion of his sophomore season as a member of the Saint Martin’s University men’s golf team. He enters the backend of the 2019-2020 year having played the best golf of his collegiate career in the fall.
“From the beginning of my recruiting efforts with Max, I knew I really wanted this young man in my program,” said SMU coach Kevin Bishop. “Not necessarily just for the golfing ability he displayed in junior golf tournaments, but more for the maturity he displayed when we talked about Saint Martin’s as a student/athlete. It was immediate that he had a great love and respect for the game of golf and understood the values the game teaches you on the course and in life.”
Turnquist has already enjoyed a strong start to his sophomore campaign. He was named to the Concordia Invitational All-Tournament team after finishing as the runner-up, finished in the top 10 at the Dennis Rose Invitational and was a recipient of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference golfer of the week.
“The recent finishes in the past two tournaments are a showing of what I knew that I could do when I incorporate a game plan and stick with it when things get tough,” Tunrquist said. “My game has improved mostly from 50 yards and in over the past year or so, mostly on the putting green. There was a stretch during senior year of high school and freshman year of college that I had no confidence on the putting green. Over the past year, I have been working to gain that confidence on and around the green.”
According to Bishop, it’s that dedicated approach to the game that makes Turnquist one of the top players in the GNAC.
“Compared to other top college golfers, Max isn’t the biggest, strongest or longest driver of the golf ball. What he does do better than most is be prepared,” Bishop said. “Max understands very well it is the small intangibles you do prior to and during a round of golf is what makes the difference. He knows his golf game. He is very good at balancing the mental and technical aspects of the game. He embraces practice and hard work on the range then goes out and plays the game on the golf course.”
Combined that with his overall attitude its no wonder why Turnquist has succeeded.
“As an individual, what stands out immediately with Max, is his appreciation for life,” Bishop said. “He appreciates the opportunities and challenges that are there now and lay ahead for him. He has a smile on his face 99 percent of the time and has a ‘I can do it. I will do it’ attitude.”
Turnquist and his SMU teammates begin the spring portion of their schedule February 24-25 at the Bay Area Invitational in Hayward, California. The Saints will also compete in the Argonaut Invitational at Livemore, California, March 9-10 and in the Hanny Stanislaus Invitational at Turlock, California, March 30-31.
“I am looking forward to getting back to practicing and playing with the guys before we head down to California to start the season,” Turnquist said. “This fall season was a good start to our overall goal, however, I am looking forward to getting back into tournament play in the spring and helping our team get to regionals and ultimately nationals.”
The Saints will play at the NCAA Regional Preview April 6-7 in Las Cruces, New Mexico, before hosting the Saints Cup April 11-12.
The GNAC Championships are April 20-21 in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, with top placers there advancing to the NCAA South Central/West Regional Championships (May 4-5).
“Everyone on the team holds each other to a high standard and knows that we have the potential and skill to accomplish our high goals,” Turnquist said. “I am expecting to make it to regionals with my team as well as to win a tournament in the spring season. While these are lofty expectations, if you do not expect and know that you can do great things, you will not do great things.”