By Matthew Scheidel
Grand Rapids Community College freshman golfer Cooper Bell admits the he started the season battling nerves, but since then his confidence seems to grow with every swing of the club.
Bell, 18, of East Grand Rapids, finished first overall in the Raiders’ second tournament this season, the Muskegon Community College Fall Invitational. He finished with a score of 67, which was five under par, making him the only golfer to finish under par that day.
He said that it has been a huge confidence boost to make this much of an impact as a freshman.
“I feel more comfortable playing the tournaments,” Bell said. “The first tournament I was so nervous, so scared. I didn’t know what to do. Then after the first couple tournaments I found my groove and I’ve just been consistently improving from there.”
GRCC golf coach John Forton said that Bell is a tremendous asset to the team, adding that Bell has everything he is looking for in a player.
“He’s a great leader,” Forton said. “He’s fearless, works hard and competes very well for us.”
Forton said that it has been fun watching Bell grow as a player, as he is hoping that Bell’s hard work this season will pay off.
“Every week he continues to be more comfortable at the collegiate level,” Forton said. “Hopefully by the end of the season he can be a NJCAA All-American candidate if he keeps working hard.”
An All-American nod would add to the many accolades that Bell received in high school for his play.
“I was all-conference for three years, all-state for one year and all-area for two years,” Bell said.
Bell started practicing very early on, as knew he was destined to be a golfer when he was three or four years old.
“I had a little plastic club that I would swing around my yard and my house,” Bell said.
Being from East Grand Rapids, Bell wanted to attend college somewhere close to home. This is what led him to GRCC, although there were other factors involved.
“I knew I didn’t want to move that far away,” Bell said. “I love the golf team and I knew a couple of guys on the team from last year so I’ve bonded with them really well. The coach is really cool as well.”
Bell’s favorite golfer growing up was Rickie Fowler, who used to wear orange apparel on the course making him stick out a little more to Bell.
“The colors that he used to wear were awesome,” Bell said. “I also admired how he carried himself on the course.”
While Bell is primarily focused on golf and academics, he does enjoy playing hockey and working at his two jobs in his free time.
“I grew up playing hockey, I played it forever,” Bell said. “I also work at a golf course and a hockey rink.”
Bell’s favorite restaurant in Grand Rapids is Cygnus 27, which is on top of the Amway Grand Plaza, set 27 stories high.
Bell went to the restaurant for his high school prom and said, “It was really cool because you could see all of Grand Rapids from there.”