Winter’s icy grip may still have a firm hold on Minnesota weather, but that hasn’t stopped the Gustavus men’s and women’s golf teams from getting excited for their spring season, whenever it may come. Both teams traded the snow and ice for the Sunshine State on their annual Spring Break trip to Florida to get in some much needed outdoor practice time.
The Gusties spent eight days in Ponte Vedra, Florida, practicing and competing on a number of courses in the region including The Players Club at Sawgrass and Sawgrass Country Club.
“We got to play on some of the nicest and toughest courses every day while we’re there,” Senior Kayleigh Dittes said.
Gustavus alumni and friends of the golf program provided housing and accommodations for the teams during their stay.
“We are very fortunate to be able to stay with Gustie alumni Bill and Sharon Johnson and we are very thankful for their generosity,” Senior Coby Rowley said.
Unfortunately for the Gusties, the trip wasn’t all warmth and sunshine. Three days of rain provided a challenge for the golfers.
“We played in some rain down there which makes things more challenging, but it also helps us prepare for the less than ideal conditions in Minnesota,” Dittes said.
Despite the rain, the Gusties fit in 18 or even 36 holes every day on the trip. The exposure to the outdoors and access to practice facilities was helpful after spending most of the season thus far stuck inside Lund Center.
“The most helpful part of Spring Break was probably being able to play as much as we could, but also take the time we needed to work on our short game and areas that needed work. The facilities we are able to use down there really help to push our abilities in making us better,” Sophomore Samantha Falk said.
Like many other teams this spring, the Gusties were disappointed to return home to more cold weather and snow. All tournaments in the region have been postponed or cancelled due to the weather. After spending so much time preparing for the season, many on the team are getting anxious for the ability to get outside and compete.
“I’m really looking forward to the weather improving so we are able to get outside and practice as much as possible. I’m also really looking forward to the opportunity to compete and hopefully make the push for nationals,” Falk said.
Both the men’s and women’s teams are vying for a return slot at the NCAA national tournament this spring. Heading into the spring season the men were ranked 7th in the nation and the women 14th.
“Our team played well this fall, and we all are getting antsy to get back on the course, as weather permits of course,” Rowley said. “We also are looking forward to competing, especially in the national championships this May where we plan on being strong contenders for Gustavus’ first championship since the ‘04 season.”
Junior Andrew Oakes is also optimistic about the team’s prospects at the national tournament this spring.
“It is always a great experience, and we have a great shot at winning it all this year. It should be a great tournament,” Oakes said.
The teams have been doing their best to fit in games and tournaments whenever possible to help prepare. While in Florida, the men competed in a dual meet against Flagler College at the Ponde Vedra Country Club. Senior Alex Kolquist led the squad in the 313-303 loss, shooting an even par 72 to tie for first place.
The women traveled south to compete in the Illinois Wesleyan Spring Fling at Ironwood Golf Course in Normal, Illinois on April 13 and 14. Falk led the Gusties, shooting a 77 on day one and a 79 on day two to finish in a tie for fifth place. The team ended up shooting a two-day 665 (+89) to finish in fifth overall in the tournament.
As the weather continues to show no signs of turning around, the team anxiously awaits the day they can finally get outside at home.
“Nothing makes us better then actually being able to play,” Oakes said.
The next scheduled match for the men takes place on April 27-28 at the St. John’s Invitational. The women are scheduled to compete in the Carleton Invitational the same weekend.