IN-FORM Aaron Schnacke produced his best of the year late in the season to be crowned the Halifax, Huddersfield Union champion and he put it down to two things – extra hard practise and studying the work ethic of top players while playing alongside them.
The latter has seen some polish rub off onto the 20-year-old Fixby player who made his first major impact on the local scene by winning a fascinating Union final on the 35th green against talented Meltham youngster Jamie Bower, a Yorkshire Boys Under 16 player.
“Playing with better players has given me more confidence,” says Schnacke, who kept a cool head in the final and played solidly to edge Bower, who carried the favourite’s tag in that he had home course advantage and he had progressed by knocking out title holder Richard Broadley.
Some notable names bowed to Schnacke as he made his way to the decider – Jimmy Cain (9&8), Brad Tupman (3&2), Mark Hepworth (4&2) and Sam Bridges (2&1).
Schnacke is possibly the only champion not to have represented a Union team nor his club in the Union Scratch League, as he was down the pecking order as Fixby won the title.
Schnacke, who works part time for Paul Carman in the Fixby pro shop, made his only appearance at top level with his club when Fixby called him up in August for the Yorkshire Team championship at Hallamshire.
They finished fourth in difficult conditions and he made two inauspicious rounds of 83 in the high winds.
Though he never made it to play for any Union side, as Union champion he can look forward to making a first-team debut next season.
Team manager Chris Mear has already spoken to him about that prospect.
Schnacke qualified for the matchplay with two rounds of 73 in the PS Cockroft Trophy at Dewsbury, finishing eighth.
“That was good and I was looking forward to the matchplay as I prefer that format. I seem to do better when it’s man-to-man. I enjoy the pressure,” said Schnacke, who started the season off three handicap and now has a mark of two.
“I thought I handled things pretty well in the final, and the feeling when I won is hard to describe.”
He took up golf seriously only four and a half years ago, though he had dabbled on the practice ground at Bradley Park where his father and brother Luke were members. He and Luke moved on to Fixby, though Luke, who represented the Union Junior side, has now moved out of the district.
Schnacke’s dream is to make a career as a professional but he remains level headed on that score.
“I’ll see where golf takes me first,” he said.
First up is a target of gaining a college golf scholarship in America like brother Luke, who attended college in South Carolina. He has submitted an application and the signs of him being successful are good.
What should help is the national diploma in golf and sports management he gained at Myerscough College, part of the Central Lancashire University.
Schnacke added: “Ideally, as well as opportunities to play and be coached, I could gain a degree in sports management if I get a college place in the United States.”