The one thing no one can control has controlled the spring golf season.
Extended cold temperatures and wet, rainy conditions have hindered golfers ability to get out for competitions or even practice this season. Despite a warming trend on the horizon, it has already been one of the most frustrating starts for area programs.
“We’ve hit more whiffle balls indoors than real golf balls outdoors,” Linn-Mar Coach Steve Kahler said. “That’s not going to help you play 18 at Hunters Ridge.”
Kahler chuckled when mentioning the weather has provided plenty of time to address rules and course etiquette. He wasn’t joking when he said Wednesday’s Linn-Mar Invitational at Hunters Ridge, which was rescheduled due to Tuesday’s weather, was just the Lions’ third meet of the season and first 18-hole event.
Golfers have had limited time to practice the intricacies of the game. Many of Linn-Mar’s practices have been 30 to 45 minutes due to the elements, which have wreaked havoc on golf, which is a “feel” sport, according to Kahler.
“It’s really tough,” Kahler said. “It’s equal for everybody. We’re on the same playing field. You’re going to see some higher scores.”
Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Maddie Bertsch tied Cedar Rapids Washington’s M.J. Kamin for runner-up honors Wednesday. There was a little rust to shake off in the season’s first 18-hole competition. Golfers will have to build their stamina with the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union postseason beginning Monday, May 13, which is three days after the start of the Iowa High School Athletic Association’s postseason.
“There were bits and pieces of my game that were missing,” Bertsch said Wednesday. “You’re not used to hit 18 tee shots.”
Cedar Rapids Washington Coach Dennis Goettel said the Warriors have had just 10 outdoor practices in the opening month. Even though many work with simulators on their own, Goettel said its too expensive to demand players and the school to pay for it. He said he might be considered soft on his players, but low temperatures, wind and spitting rain has affected his plans.
“I’m not going to explore them to that,” Goettel said. “I want them to enjoy the game.”
It hasn’t been a good introduction to the sport for some newcomers. Golfers have shown their resolve and patience. Some courses in NW Iowa are closed or just recently opened, dealign with snow and wet conditions.
“It’s hard when you don’t get outside,” Cedar Rapids Jefferson Coach Dan Ray said. “It’s especially true for girls who haven’t played the game.”
The start has been altered, but the effects will be experienced the rest of the season. Many postponed meets will be squeezed in the remaining few weeks of the regular season. Washington has four 18-hole meets in the less than 10 days. Practice time will be limited for a different reason now and athletes will be affected in the classroom, missing school for makeup competitions.
“It has been bad,” said Goettel, calling it one of the worst seasons since one when he served as the Warriors’ Athletics Director. “We’re going to be playing competitions a lot. The amount of practice is going to be very limited.”
It looks like temperatures will rise into the 70′s. Kahler likes that possibility, considering two of the Lions first meets were held when the wind chill dipped into the 30′s.
“It looks like it will be turning,” Kahler said. “That will be wlecomed.”
Decorah continues strength
The Decorah Vikings graduated some key players from last season’s Class 3A boys state title team. They haven’t lost any ground.
The Vikings recently handled New Hampton by 28 strokes, posting an impressive 153 at Oneota Golf Course in Decorah.
Decorah had all four scorers break 40 with all six shooting 43 or better. Sam Sacquitne led the charge with a 36, while Peter Kephart, Michael Peter and Tyler Hovey each carded 39. In the junior varsity event, some golfers shot as well or better than varsity competitors with all but one Decorah golfer shot 45 or better, demonstrating the program’s depth.
“We were please to shoot 153 as a team score with 4 scores in the 30′s,” Decorah Coach Rich Gaard said in a news release.