Passion for golf drives North Star's Drew Nicholas to success on, off golf course

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

CANDO – Barry Heisler, at one point, could breeze his way to an easy win in a round of golf when he took on Drew Nicholas. 

However, talking to the North Star Boys' Golf head coach would reveal the past is not equivalent to the present. After all, Nicholas has upped his golf ante to the point where Heisler can no longer keep up on a hole-to-hole basis. 

"His [Drew's] first two years, I had no problems beating him," Heisler said. "The last couple years, yeah, not so much. I don't even try to keep up with him anymore because he can hit the ball 40 yards farther than I can, and, yeah, it's not even a competition anymore." 

North Star's Drew Nicholas claimed Region 3 Senior Athlete of the Year honors during the 2022 spring golf season.

Drew's drive – literally and figuratively – toward one clean stroke after another proved itself during the Region III Tournament on May 18. The high school senior helped North Star's team of five (Nicholas included) conclude the tournament with a second-place finish – and a state tournament berth, to boot – and additionally took home Region 3 Senior Athlete of the Year honors. 

Drew's love for the sport ignited through his dad, Jay Nicholas. 

"What got me into golf specifically was my dad [Jay Nicholas]," Drew said. "That is his favorite hobby, and we have a simulator upstairs, so that is something that we have kind of bonded on over the years. And I started in sixth grade, and he has always been working with me, so that is basically what got me into it, and then playing out here with my friends ever since sixth grade and then going to meets in seventh grade. It has always just been fun. It's something to do, and my dad kind of got me into it [and] be somewhat good at it." 

But Drew's familial connection to golf didn't end with his dad. After all, Drew's sister, Elle Nicholas, plays girls' varsity golf for North Star and has experience succeeding on the state tournament stage. 

And so, a classic "brother vs. sister" rivalry only heightened since the pair began their golf careers. But, of course, Drew has clarified where the line in the sand (or bunker) is drawn between who reigns supreme over the other. 

"I don't want to sound mean, but she [Elle Nicholas] has never really been better than me," Drew said. "Last year at state, she took seventh as a girl, so she always kind of hangs that over my head as 'oh, I got seventh place and you didn't even place,' even though she shot over the score that I did, so she still has that. [So] it's there, and it's fun banter… it's just fun." 

But Drew has learned more than simply working through a small dose of sibling competition. Since Drew's time as a golfer as a seventh-grader, Heisler has noticed a gradual increase in Drew's ability to carry himself around a golf meet, from the first hole to the last. 

"When he hits a bad shot, he doesn't carry it over to the next hole," Heisler said. "It is just one hole at a time. He doesn't just look in the rearview mirror and what could've. He just looks forward through the next shot, and hopefully, it is a par or birdie, but he just doesn't concentrate on the bad stuff he has done. He is just working on the positive part of the game." 

Drew Nicholas (far right) poses with his teammates.

Drew's ability to adapt to adversity has become an ingrained trait on and off the putting green. However, the additional factor of juggling schoolwork with academics has, like anything else, been yet another obstacle in need of crossing. 

However, it has not been an impossible obstacle. Instead, it has been an obstacle of the beatable. Whether it be from Drew's time as a basketball player or as a golfer, Drew, a National Honor Society student, believes that staying busy aids in helping manage both academic and athletic time. 

"I have seen so many other kids do it, and I'm just, like, it's very possible, and I know that everything that I do pays off," Drew said. "Not just doing your schoolwork and then going home and then doing nothing. I like coming out and being in my Honor's Society and then playing basketball…managing it all, it gives you something to do, and I think it's a life lesson that everyone needs to do."  

"I go to the basketball games, but like he [Drew] said, he's on the [National] Honor Society," Heisler said. "He's an honor student, so he handled multiple sports through the years really well. I don't think he had any problems with dual or multiple sports in a season." 

As he concludes his high school career at North Star and begins his collegiate one at Texas Christian University, Drew will look to allocate time correctly and undergo his chemical engineering aspirations. 

Of course, that won't get in the way of Drew looking to find time for the game he fell in love with as a kid. Whether from playing club or intramural golf, Drew will be as eager as ever to continue with golf with any newfound friends he comes across. 

And perhaps he will breeze his way to a win or two over them. 

John Crane is a sports/general assignment reporter for the Devils Lake Journal. Feel free to contact John via work phone (701-922-1372), cell phone (701-230-4339), email (jcrane@gannett.com) or Twitter (@johncranesports) with any story ideas.