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New Ulm youth golfer Ethan Schmidt tees off at the New Ulm Country Club. Schmidt, now 11 years old, has steadily improved his game over the past several years and recently became the 2023 U.S Kids Golf Minneapolis Local Summer Tour 10-year-old age group champion.

NEW ULM — After placing his ball on the tee, Ethan Schmidt looks ahead at the fairway and focuses on a tree in the distance.

He then takes out his favorite COBRA driver and gets into position before hitting the ball, which now rarely fades. After a solid drive, Schmidt settles in and routinely finishes his round of golf ahead of the competition.

Schmidt does all of this as one of the area’s top youth golfers. He just turned 11 years old and finished his summer with multiple first-place medals to add to his already-large collection.

Schmidt recently completed the 2023 U.S Kids Golf Minneapolis Local Summer Tour as the 10-year-old age group champion. The tour was a six-tournament, season-long points race that wrapped up on July 23 at Mississippi National Golf Links in Red Wing. Schmidt finished second at the tour championship after a second playoff hole, but his constant success this year was enough to keep him ahead of the other competitors in the points race.

Schmidt opened the tournament tour with three first-place finishes in a row before taking third, tying for second and, finally, finishing second in the championship. He finished the Minneapolis Fall Tour as the champion last fall also, meaning this summer’s title was his second in U.S. Kids Golf.

Ethan Schmidt chips at the New Ulm Country Club on Aug. 17.

“When I tee it up, I always try to hit it straight, of course,” Schmidt said. “And me and my dad always pick out a spot where we’re going to aim, like somewhere in the area out in front of us.”

That area Schmidt aims for often involves trees off in the distance, something his dad, Eric, taught him years ago.

That’s not to say everything always goes perfect for Schmidt or that he doesn’t need to practice, however.

“For practice, I always start out at my lower irons and then I work my way up to the driver,” Schmidt said. “And on the driving range, we always pick out a target to see if I’m hitting it right or left or it’s going straight.”

Schmidt also spends his practice time with his putter on the green after his dad hands him a pair of Titlelist golf balls. Another routine Schmidt likes to follow before he even gets to a golf course is getting a good breakfast, his favorite being an egg sandwich from Kwik-Trip.

While Ethan Schmidt enjoys getting out the driver more than anything, he’s put time in with his putting to improve his scores all-around.

When Schmidt gets nervous or starts thinking too far ahead, his dad is quick to remind him that it’s one shot at a time. That has helped Schmidt maintain his composure and get out of slumps.

In addition to the U.S. Kids Golf Tour, Schmidt also finished the PGA Minnesota Junior Golf Tour ‘Sota Series this year with a third-place finish in the Minnesota 12&U Junior PGA Championship at Applwood Hills Golf Club in Stillwater. In this year’s ‘Sota Series, Schmidt had three wins.

Schmidt started competing in PGA Minnesota Junior Golf tournaments at 6 years old and has been competing in those tours ever since.

“I like it,” Schmidt said of the series. “It’s a challenge. There’s older people in it, there’s 11- and 12-year-olds and in it, everyone’s usually bigger than me because I’m the youngest one in it. And I’m going to be in the middle soon, so I’ll win most of them, hopefully.”

Schmidt, who said he’s about 70 pounds, routinely matched up with bigger, older and stronger kids in the ‘Sota Series. But despite the age and size difference, Schmidt went toe to toe with those older golfers and held his own.

Ethan Schmidt stands behind a table full of medals, trophies and awards he’s amassed so far during his young golfing career.

Overall, Schmidt was proud of how his summer of golf went.

“I was happy with how I ended,” Schmidt said. “And for the U.S. Kids Tour, I started out winning the first three tournaments, so I was really ahead in the points standing for that tour. And for the Minnesota Junior Golf, I started out a little bit slower but it started to get better throughout the season.”

Schmidt has been to 17 different golf courses so far this year. Prior Lake’s The Meadows at Mystic Lake and Minnetonka Beach’s Lafayette Club are two of Schmidt’s favorite courses to play.

On Aug. 15 at The Meadows at Mystic Lake, Schmidt also finished top 10 in the Notah Begay III Minnesota Regional Tournament, earning him an exemption into the regional tournament next year.

Schmidt’s standout summer also earned him an invite to golf in next year’s U.S. Kids World Championship in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

Of his biggest career golf achievements, he’s most proud of this summer’s U.S. Kids Golf 10-year-old title and his Minnesota Junior Golf Prep Tour Championship trophy, which he won in 2021 at the Lafayette Club.

Schmidt had his first bogey-free round of his career this summer and shot the lowest round of his career at the New Ulm Country Club with a 76 on the par-71 course. He also shot a 76 this summer at The Meadows at Mystic Lake, a par-72 course.

Despite the miles traveled and time involved, Schmidt doesn’t mind and has no plans to slow down anytime soon.

He has goals to make the New Ulm Eagles’ boys varsity golf team as a seventh-grader and reach the state tournament by eighth grade. Finally, he’s interested in winning the New Ulm Invitational when he gets older.

Schmidt just started fifth grade and his favorite classes are math and phys ed. — two key subjects for creating a good golfer.

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