By Nate Tenopir, Editor-in-Chief
Like every other sport on campus, the men’s and women’s golf teams have had a rough go of getting the weather to cooperate in 2013. But unlike every sport on campus, it makes that much more of a difference when success is based on getting practice time outside in the elements.
Because winter has attempted to maintain its grip well into April, the women’s team has suffered the most. A season ago, the team had played 10 rounds at this point and cracked the top 10 at the IPFW Spring Classic.
But with only two tournaments remaining in the season, the women’s team has had only three rounds of competitive golf and a very irregular practice schedule.
“We haven’t been able to play,” UNO coach Tim Nelson said. “We had a tournament in Carbondale cancelled and even the weather recently has been turning a little bit nasty. It’s disappointing; we haven’t been outside that much either.”
Granted, the women’s schedule only included two spring tournaments before today’s final round of the Creighton Classic. But had the first one not been cancelled, the team would still struggle to get time outside.
UNO hosts no home tournaments and often sees a course for the first time when they go on the road to compete. As a result, unfamiliarity can be a challenge.
Regardless of how different course conditions or course layout may be each weekend, the lack of practice time during the week is an ever-bigger challenge.
“Just practicing, even inside, you’re hitting balls, but you’re practicing on a flat surface,” Nelson said. “In golf you’re playing a sport which plays on a different course and everything else is totally different. You gotta get out and play in the weather and everything else; that’s so critical.”
In terms of competition time, the men’s team hasn’t been quite as severely affected. The men have played 13 rounds this spring, not losing any of the tournaments to cancellation.
But the results seem to show just how much lack of time outdoors has had an effect. In four tournaments, the team’s top finish is a tie for 10th place at the Beu Mussatto Invitational at Western Illinois.
Last season the men’s spring schedule included two third-place finishes, a fourth and a fifth. The third-place finishes came at North Dakota State and Midland against what would be considered weaker competition than UNO has seen in 2013.
The level of talent can certainly make a difference in results from one year to the next. But Nelson thinks the difference is not nearly as stark as the one between getting on the course and staying indoors.
“You can do some of that,” Nelson said about evaluating his players by watching practice inside. “But you need to get out and play and take it to reality, is probably the best way to say it.”
Judging the women’s team improvement has been nearly impossible. Because of the cancellation at Southern Illinois and only one other tournament up to this point, a measuring stick is hard to find.
The men’s team has more to go on, but all the players have been up and down since the first spring tournament at Sacramento State. Any evaluation of the four tournaments the team has played in seems unfair due to the circumstances.
“That’s just something you get to see when they get to play more,” Nelson said. “Your accuracy as far as picking the right clubs for distance becomes more and more evident. We only see that improvement every day they get to play.”