You won't see Max Gogel twirl his club after a nifty iron shot. You won’t see him slam his putter in disgust after a three-putt.

"I don't like to be flashy or a showboat," he said.

An even-keel approach has propelled the Davenport Assumption senior into one of the top high school golfers in the Quad-Cities.

The Mississippi Athletic Conference medalist anchors the Knights' lineup heading into this weekend's Iowa Class 4A state tournament at the Tournament Club of Iowa in Polk City.

Gogel has been a fixture on coach Gary Laake's varsity roster for four years.

"He's really calm, cool and collected on the golf course," Laake said. "It has served him well."

That was no more evident than last year's district tournament at Palmer Hills Golf Course. Gogel went out in 44 but rallied with a 4-under 32. There have been a couple rounds this season where he's failed to break 80, but found a way to rebound in the next tournament.

His demeanor, according to Laake, never changes on the course.

"He has the best mental outlook of any high school golfer I've seen in many years," Laake said. "He doesn’t get rattled. He could have a 7 or a 3 on a hole and you wouldn't know. He just has a very good attitude about the game."

Gogel grew up playing with his father. It wasn’t until late in middle school that golf became a priority. He remembers shooting even par on nine holes in seventh or eighth grade from the forward tees at Glynn's Creek in Long Grove.

He didn’t play competitive tournaments, though, until the first day of high school tryouts as a freshman.

"I didn’t know what I was getting into my freshman year, really," he said. "I was just trying to play."

Gogel gave up baseball after ninth grade to concentrate on golf. His scores vastly improved.

After averaging 84.75 strokes for 18 holes as a freshman, Gogel lowered that mark to 80.18 as a sophomore and 76.78 last season.

Gogel has a 75.5 scoring average this fall — best in the MAC.

"My chipping and putting has gotten a lot better," Gogel said. "Towards the end of last year, I felt like I could get up-and-down when I needed to. That really helped me shave a couple strokes off my score."

He was in second place after the opening round of last year’s state tournament before settling for sixth. That experience should pay dividends this weekend.

"I know how the tournament is run now, the overall environment of the state meet and how to eliminate big numbers and play smart golf," Gogel said.

And while he might not be a rah-rah kind of leader, players feed on his play and temperament.

"I've always looked up to him," junior and Assumption’s No. 2 Matt Cain said. "He's always been one of the most encouraging teammates I've had at Assumption.

"He's really quiet, but it is a good quiet. When he speaks, it is worth listening."

Gogel describes himself as a conservative player. He’ll occasionally be aggressive on a par-5, but more times than not, he’ll lay back on a short par-4 and attempt to get up and down as opposed to going for the green and possibly bringing a big number into play.

"Sometimes bogey isn’t bad when a course is tough or the conditions are tough," he said.

That mentality has served him well in the classroom, too. Gogel is a 4.0 student and wants to pursue a career in engineering.

"Taking a test, I try to be calm and alert but not over-stressed," he said. "Those test-taking qualities come into my golf game."

Gogel has designs of playing golf at the collegiate level. He’s looked at Marquette, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and Cornell College in New York. He plans to take a visit to Iowa State later this month.

"He's the whole package — physical game, mental game and he’s got the smarts," Laake said. "Probably at the top of the list, he's such a nice kid. He's been a dream to coach."


Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.