Practice may make perfect, but during this cold, windy, rainy, snowy spring the UW-Eau Claire women’s golf team has been left virtually unable to get out on the course to hone
Despite the lack of practice, the team traveled for their April 20-21 match in Waverly, Iowa, to participate in the Wartburg College Invitational where they finished 4th out of 10 teams. The Blugolds total score, 332, put them behind St. Thomas (Minn.), Wartburg, and tournament champion St. Olaf College (Minn.).
Results were based solely on the April 20 round because the second day of play (April 21) was canceled due to weather conditions after competitors completed just four holes. Sophomore Emily Stone said the cancellation came as a disappointment to Blugold golfers who haven’t spent a significant amount of time out on the course this spring.
Top finisher for the Blugolds was sophomore Kate Engler who with 79 strokes (+7) tied for eighth place. Senior teammate Catherine Wagner tied for 14th with an 82 stroke (+10) finish.
“My weekend started out pretty good,” Engler said. “The last holes were kind of disappointing for me because I was three over but overall I’m pretty happy considering we don’t practice very much.”
Sophomore Mandi Salo said the team’s biggest concern going into the tournament was their lack of preparation compared to the other teams. Salo said the teams from Iowa and Nebraska have had many more opportunities to get outside.
“Going to the tournaments without much practice is a little bit scary but we find that we’re still able to hold a candle to the other teams even when they’ve been able to practice and we haven’t,” Salo said.
Salo shared her teammates disappointment when officials called off day two of the tournament.
“I’ve played in a lot worse conditions than the conditions we had on that day but I guess with the wind, rain and cold all mixed together it was just way too much,” Salo said.
In a typical spring, the Blugold golfers will play a round of 18 holes every week at practice as well as going to the driving range and working on their short game. However, this spring their practice schedule has called for much more creativity.
To stay on top of their game the team has been hitting balls off mats into the snow filled driving range, practicing inside the clubhouse, putting on the floor of McPhee and working on swing drills.
“We’re doing whatever we can to keep our swings and trying not to get too rusty,” Stone said.
As the team continues to fight the conditions they are hopeful they will be able to complete their next two tournaments: both scheduled to be played on courses that aren’t currently open.
“This weekend we are heading to Minnesota for a tournament in Northfield hosted by Carleton College and then the weekend after that we have our home tournament,” Salo said. “We’re really looking forward to both of these tournaments and just facing some other competitors and we’re hoping that both of these tournaments will happen.”
Despite setbacks from Mother Nature the golfers are focused on their goal: a bid for the national tournament. It will depend on a variety of things like scoring average and strength and number of tournaments. In terms of meeting the requirements, Engler said the team is practically all set and just waiting for a decision.
“We have two more tournaments and then nationals,” Engler said. “We still have to get a bid for nationals but we won’t hear about that for another week but we’re going to keep playing obviously.”
While the team continues to place well despite conditions Stone said it will make their job more difficult down the road as they try to accomplish their postseason goals.
“We have a good history at the national tournament. We went last year and the 12 or 13 years before that and we’re just trying to get back there again,” Stone said. “It’s obviously going to be a little bit harder this year but that’s what we’re working towards now.”