Senior Christian Salzer has seen his play improve as time went on from an overall young NC State men’s golf team. He was excited to see how the end of his four years as a student-athlete would come down the stretch, but then COVID-19 shattered the country and the sporting world. The rest of his senior year was over in the blink of an eye.
The Wolfpack had just finished playing a tournament in Myrtle Beach, where it finished in fourth place out of 15 teams, its best result of the spring. After the tournament, Salzer, like many other college students, flooded to Florida for spring break. This is where he heard the shocking news.
“We were going to go to an NBA game that Thursday, then the NBA got shut down,” Salzer said. “That's when we started wondering about golf, but we were like, it's golf, no way. Then they cancelled it … I definitely broke down because whenever you work for something for four years and it gets taken away from you, it's a little tough.”
The Wolfpack no longer had the opportunity to compete in the rest of its season, including the ACC Tournament and the NCAA regionals, where NC State competed during the 2019 season.
“We definitely had our best golf ahead of us,” Salzer said. “We all really wanted it, and we all had really the same goal in mind, but we really just didn’t have a chance to show that.”
During that run in 2019 at the Stanford Regional, NC State finished eighth place out of 14 teams, where it needed to finish in the top five to advance to the national championships. However, earlier on in the round, the Wolfpack found itself moving up in the leaderboard. This was one of Salzer’s favorite moments as a member of the Wolfpack.
“That moment right there, when everyone was playing well, just looking over at my teammate, and he's fired up, and I'm fired up,” Salzer said. “The feeling was great, the adrenaline, just making a run, it was awesome.”
Salzer competed in tournaments all four years, with his best individual finish being tied for 9th out of 107 players at the Bandon Dunes Championship his junior year. He also led the team individually in Arizona and Minnesota in tournaments last fall.
The Sumter, South Carolina native is known for his ability to hit the driver, which is what he feels is the best club in his bag.
“One of my strengths is definitely driving,” Salzer said. “I drive the ball really well, and that's kind of what I plan my game around.”
Salzer gives credit to NC State head coach Press McPhaul and associate head coach Van Williams for really helping with his game as the years passed. Despite being recruited by legendary former men’s golf coach Richard Sykes, who coached for 46 years in Raleigh and left after his freshman season, Salzer really caught on to the new staff quickly.
“Both [McPhaul and Williams] are good at the mental aspect of golf,” Salzer said. “Obviously my swing and how I drove the ball got better too with their help.”
Salzer’s Wolfpack career may not be done yet though. On March 30, the NCAA approved an extra year of eligibility for all spring-season athletes who had their seasons taken away as a result of COVID-19. This is something that Salzer has thought about utilizing to be able to come back for one more year. However, he knows there are lots of components to whether or not coming back for one more year is the best for him and the program.
“There are a lot of ins and outs that people aren't talking about,” Salzer said. “You have to get past scholarships, budget, roster size and things like that. It's really not up to me; it's kind of up to my parents with the money, but I would love to go back.”
Whether Salzer’s Wolfpack career is over yet or not, he has set future plans to play golf as a professional. This would continue something he has done ever since he was a kid back home.
“I made up my mind last year that I was going to play professionally after college,” Salzer said. “I thought if I made up my mind, I would have something to work towards.”
Whatever Salzer's next move is golfwise, he will know that he gave it his all as a student-athlete at NC State. Coming from a small town in South Carolina, Salzer has grown as a golfer and an individual, being a member of the Wolfpack.