Butler men’s golf’s Patrick Allgeier driven by his deep connection to the sport

Patrick Allgeier in action for Butler. Photo courtesy of Patrick Allgeier’s Twitter. 

DREW FAVAKEH | STAFF REPORTER | dfavakeh@butler.edu

Baking in the Arizona sun, Patrick Allgeier was drenched in sweat, hands blistered, sore from hitting golf balls at the pace that a mini-gun fires bullets on the driving range. He didn’t have a routine. Just golf. Having grown up in the typically overcast weather of Fort Wayne, Indiana, though, Allgeier’s body wasn’t used to the 115-degree dry heat, quickly getting dehydrated.

But the weather wouldn’t stop Allgeier. He was too focused on quieting his grandfather’s voice, who spouted the usual “constructively critical” trash talk.

“Now, Pat, why would anyone wanna hit a shot like that?” Jerry would say to his grandson, who was 10 at the time. “Pat, you can’t hit that shot. Come on Pat, who you fooling, you’re not that good.”

Before collecting all the collegiate accolades: 18 top-10 finishes in 31 matches, 11 of which were top-five finishes, including his first win – the Big Four Classic this season – before having led the Butler men’s golf team to its winningest season in more than a decade, the junior’s passion sprouted from the seeds of his grandfather’s motivation.

Jerry was the head golf professional at Pine Valley Country Club in Fort Wayne, before he settled in Arizona. Balance issues limit Jerry now, yet Allgeier, couldn’t beat Jerry until his sophomore year of high school. Jerry, now 77 years old, has played golf for all but five years of his life, recording scores under his age well into his 70s.

Allgeier would fly to Arizona with his sister. While she would go shopping with their grandmother, Janice, he beelined to the course, his temporary home until dark. There, he wagered loose change on long drives, putting drills and routinely played 18-hole matches with Jerry and his friends.

Wobbling, Allgeier told Jerry, “I feel sorta sick.” Jerry helped him to the side, sat him underneath the shade of a tree, and fed him water. His tone now more wise than witty, he said: “Pat, you just gotta take it easy.”

***

Though he has matured since pushing himself to heat exhaustion, nothing has stopped Allgeier from playing golf.

After six-hour morning sessions at Deer Track Golf Club, Doug Booth, Allgeier’s trainer, tells him to store away the clubs for the afternoon – “go to the lake for the weekend.” Only later does he learn from Allgeier’s parents that he and his friends played not one, but two competitive matches at Pine Valley, a two-hour drive from Deer Track. With finals on the horizon, Allgeier’s dad, Jim Allgeier, has prodded him to exchange the club for the pencil, to no avail. Last summer, he asked Allgeier to check off his chores — renew his license once he turned 21 and go back to his job at Captain Cork Liquor Store during the holidays — before hitting the links.

Extrinsic motivation fueled Allgeier’s fire, but passion keeps it burning.

“Golf is his happy place,” Booth said.

That was especially so on Mother’s day in 2013. In the morning, Allgeier struggled in a tournament, particularly on the putting green. The temperature never rose above 34 degrees, winds gusting, and yet, “we legit just practiced putting and chipping for numerous hours,” he remembers.

“We spent six hours together,” Booth said. “He made me stay out there all day and freeze. We kept working on it. But it was typical of Pat. He always wanted to get better. He never accepted any weaknesses.”

At the Butler-sponsored Scotland trip he took two summers ago, he played all 18 holes at Kingsbarns Golf Links, a historic course in Saint Andrews, alongside his coach, Bill Mattingly, and Mattingly’s brother, while rain sprayed sideways at 30-40 miles per hour. His teammates quit after the front nine, opting to huddle inside the nearby clubhouse.

“It was brutal out,” Allgeier said. “I enjoyed the fact that I may never get the chance to play there again. To enjoy the experience to play in Scotland, where the game was made, made it once in a lifetime.”

Two pairs of rain pants covering his shivering legs, his face sheathed in a scarf, Allgeier facetimed his parents.

“The only thing I could see was this part of him, just his eyes,” Jim Allgeier said.

“I’m sure in the back of Pat’s mind,” Mattingly said. “He thought, ‘I better get out here in the rain, because in England or Scotland, where it’s almost unplayable, they keep going.’ There was a 130-yard hole, where we had to hit a five-iron, with 40 miles per hour wind into us. Maybe someday, he’ll call back up that shot and win a tournament over there.”

Allgeier leverages every resource to his advantage, using his mom, Terri, as a human tripod of sorts.

“I would videotape him with his phone because he would want to look at his swing and see what he was doing wrong,” Terri said. “I would have to have the umbrella up with one hand because it would be rainy. I’m not tech-savvy by any means, so he would have to show me where the record button is.”

What makes Patrick Allgeier tick is fairly simple: golf.

“We lose a lot of competitive juniors when they get their first boyfriend or girlfriend, then they get their driver’s license,” Booth said. “Pat never went through that.”

***

If the accomplishments are what stand out about Allgeier, putting serves as the constant reminder of the ugliness in golf’s beauty: the humbling aspect. To this day, putting is Allgeier’s nemesis, haunting him when everything else seems to be working in his favor.

“I wanted to solve the problem because I haven’t been a great putter in my history of being a golfer,” Allgeier said. “Looking back on it, it was pretty crazy that I was out there for numerous hours when it was windy, rainy, and so cold. That’s just how I am, though, when I get in that mindset.”

Searching for the answer to his putting struggles — how much lag do I put on it? Which side of the green do I place it? Do I take the risk or play smart? — Allgeier sifts through his friends Logan and Corey Ryan’s dad’s putter collection every few weeks.

“It’s the arrow, not the Indian,” Allgeier said, a phrase borrowed from his grandfather.

And yet, those close to him believe his putting wounds are self-inflicted, Jerry included.

“You’re a much better putter than you thinks you are,” Jerry tells him in their 10-minute phone call made after every match. “Just pay attention to how to make the ball go in the hole. It isn’t your form. I think you think you’re not gonna make it.”

Even in his family’s living room, Allgeier toys with new putting forms. He puts on a video of professional golfers. He slows down the video frame by frame to examine their form. Hopping up from the couch, he grabs a putter. For a moment, the carpet is re-imagined as the putting green, and Allgeier, one of the greats.

***

“If there’s a video out there with Tiger Woods in it that he hasn’t seen, I’d be shocked,” Jim said. “If it’s something about Tiger Woods, he knows it and he’ll try it. Or it’s Phil Mickelson hitting the ball backwards. It’s Rory — Rory hit the ball 360 yards.”

Allgeier imitates PGA down to their mannerisms, eyeing his own “end goal”: reaching the tour.

“If I find funny videos of golf online, I’ll show my parents,” he said. “There’s a guy who does golf impressionist videos, and I’ll show them those videos. That’s my humor: stupid funny.”

This past summer, Allgeier golfed with Chris Smith, the 1991 Big Ten Player of the Year and former PGA tour winner, on three separate occasions. Playing in the same group, Allgeier kept quiet and observed Smith’s cautious approach.

“He didn’t attack many of the pins and played to the safe side of the green,” Allgeier said. “May not be as close as he could’ve gotten, but it’s a safe putt, he won’t make a bogey, but will make par, worst-case scenario. Seeing that, I’ve tried to implement that into my game and think I’ve done a good job. I took riskier shots my freshman year. Now, I’m playing smarter golf.”

His favorite song is “Jordan Belfort,” released in 2015 by Wes Walker and Dyl. The song is based on the main character of the movie, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” a stockbroker who illegally made a fortune and spent it partying. Ironically, it represents everything Allgeier is not — his Friday nights were filled with games of FIFA or Call of Duty, card games, or fishing.

While his friends demand he give up the aux, he blares “Jordan Belfort” during their cutthroat card games.

“We try not to let him get a hold of the speaker, it’s gross when he does,” Logan Ryan, one of his best friends in Fort Wayne, said. But Allgeier has a conviction that the faintest of movement holds some, any, significance.

“Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, and Smylie Kaufman went on a big spring break trip to the Bahamas,” Allgeier said, “And that song was in every Snapchat or Instagram story they had. Back then in high school, if they’re listening to that song, I want to listen to that song.”

Indeed, “Never satisfied” is his motto because, “I swear I saw it from a Jordan Spieth ad from three to four years ago.” Every morning, Allgeier sends Snapchats using the motto as his caption, along with a purple devil emoji, to a group of seven golfers back home.

“He’ll send snaps with the caption, ‘I’m going low today, I wanna shoot 59. He’s always striving for the best,” Corey Ryan, Allgeier’s friend, said.

***

Standing in the corner of the living room, he covered his face with a pillow. In front of him, his parents and two sisters, were waiting for something — anything — to come out of Allgeier’s mouth. It was the winter of eighth grade.

See, it was always going to be OK, whichever sport Allgeier ultimately chose.

But golf was always the answer. Something about it. The beauty of the course. The elegant movement. The mental fortitude. Something.

There he stood in the living room, though, afraid of the reaction his family would have. The reaction of his dad, who played soccer at Dayton and who coached Allgeier’s soccer team after being goaded into it – “If you can coach, I can play,” he would say. The reaction of his two older sisters, both of whom played college soccer, at Indiana University and Holy Cross University. His mom, Terri, his number one cheerleader. Falling short of expectations. Letting people down. Allgeier dreaded it.

“I got something to say,” Allgeier said.

Go ahead, the family collectively thought.

He put down the pillow for a second.

“I want to quit playing soccer.”

“OK.”

He dropped the pillow.

“That’s it?”

Easy. Too easy.

Weeks prior, the decision had been made for Allgeier. Playing in a game for the Fort Wayne Fever, Allgeier dribbled down the sideline. A defender slid into his right shin. He limped off the field, his right foot unable to touch the ground. The competitor he is, he tightened his laces and returned to the game.

“Every time I walked, it felt like my shin was driving through the bottom of my foot, a sharp pain,” Allegeier said.

In the emergency room, the doctors told him it was compartment syndrome, which occurs when pressure within the muscles builds to dangerous levels. The extreme numbing pain forbode the fact that playing on it would risk permanent muscle and nerve damage. It forced him to miss the tournament. His eighth-grade team advanced to the championship game. In a walking boot and on crutches, he brought his gear to the championship in case it headed to penalty kicks. When they lost, he was devastated.

Still, his mind focused on golf: How am I going to swing the club? Or putt? Heck, how am I going to walk the course? Time away from physical activity simply gave him time to re-evaluate his passion.

“Looking back, subconsciously, that was the turning point for soccer and golf,” he said.

***

Golf is fleeting in the midwest — in winter months, snow sometimes blankets the course and the sun sets early and rises late. No one is immune to these seasonal inevitables. The mental willpower needs to be exerted all the while, so golfers pick up hobbies. Side-hustles. Distractions. For Allgeier, that’s where fishing comes into play.

The fishing competitions started two summers ago, when Allgeier’s friends, Logan and Corey Ryan, moved to a house with a small pond nestled in the backyard.

“There aren’t many fish in this pond, there are maybe 30 fish,” Corey Ryan said.

Allgeier is the self-proclaimed “fishing leader,” though it’s important to note the Ryan’s don’t even keep track.

“I’ve caught three fish, you only caught one!” Allgeier would say.

Piquing his interest was his first cast, when he accidentally caught a small fish.

“Logan and Corey didn’t know how to cast the rod. So the rod didn’t have a worm on it, but I cast the rod just to show them,” Allegeier said.

Days later, he felt a vicious tug on the end of his reel. A gigantic catfish snatched the bait, “which is weird because all the other fish in there are pretty small,” Corey Ryan said. Unfortunately, the cast snapped, only motivating Allgeier to catch the beast next time. The fishing equivalent of a hole-in-one: squashed. He won’t give up. Before what he calls the nightly “fishing expedition,” he repeats, “I’m gonna catch the monster! I’m gonna catch the pond monster!”

Like playing golf, Allgeier will go fishing regardless of the conditions. As the sun sets after three hours of fishing, he’s connected a long extension cord to a construction light.

“Mosquitos were real bad, so it wasn’t the best idea ever,” Allgeier admitted.

During the winter, the pond completely frozen over, he texted both Logan and Corey: “let’s go fishing.” He simply wanted to break in the new fishing rod his uncle-in-law gifted him on Christmas.

“Sure Pat, I don’t want to, but you can go back there,” Corey Ryan replied.

***

Still fresh in his mind, was the win — his first collegiate win — at the Big Four Classic on April 9, as Allgeier practiced at the Highland Golf and Country Club on April 23.

Clouds hung over the otherwise beautiful course, the howl of the wind heard in the oak trees.

In the back-corner is the driving range, where Allgeier practiced aside Michael Cascino. The sophomore fiddled with his gloves while Allgeier started dispensing his bucket of balls.

Black Sony headphones in, Allgeier was listening to the newly-recorded podcast of,“No Laying up,” which documented Tiger Woods’ improbable comeback to win the 2019 masters, his first in 15 years.

Allgeier backpedaled to examine the clubs in his bag, eventually settling on a silver 7-iron. He rocked it back-and-forth, twice over. Adjusted his grip — left hand up, right hand down.

“Was it different than the others?” Allgeier asked, turning his back to the driving range with a grin on his face. “Well, yeah it was because I never won a college event before, in that aspect yeah — just to know I could do it.”

Now, he’s taking practice swings at an imaginary ball. Envisioning its travel, his face scrunches, smile vanishes. He’s done talking about the past, instead focusing on how to turn a recent “failure” — an eighth-place finish at the Wright State Invitational — into success at the Big East championship in Callawassie Island, South Carolina, which starts on April 26.

“Hopefully I continue that play,” Allgeier said. “I played well at Wright State, but had a couple bad holes that took me out of it.”

He still avoids routine.

“I start with the wedges, the shorter clubs, then I move to the longest,” Allegeier said, sifting through his bag. “Hit as many as I feel like I need to. Hit them better, then move on. So, I jump around.”

He moved to the tee box. His first lob shot landed in the nearest bunker, at least 20 yards from the hole. He shook his head, tightened his grip, and quickly pit-patted another ball to the side of his club. Out of his bag, he yanked a ruler-sized pink stick.

“If you’re wondering what this is,” he points to the pink stick which now lay horizontally across his feet, “It’s an alignment stick.”

He visualized the target line, then, closed his stance. His second swing had beautiful connection: the clubhead dinged the sweet spot of the ball. He snapped his head up to trace its trajectory, until it dropped no more than five feet from the hole.

Allgeier places the club back into his bag, which he lifts onto his broad-shoulders. Back to the putting green. Allgeier keeps going. Keeps golfing.

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