Even in Indiana, golf is typically associated with warmth, either as a summer hobby or a vacation activity out of season.
McCutcheon’s boys golfers may have conjured such warm thoughts at Tuesday’s practice, where players wearing multiple layers and extra winter hats battled 20-plus mile-per-hour winds on the final day of tryouts.
The Mavericks and several other area golf teams came back from spring break trips this week to discover spring had not yet arrived.
“It was depressing,” McCutcheon senior Spencer Coverdale said. “I was ready to play golf, and I came back and it was all white.”
Last season, the Mavericks held their tryouts in mid-March with temperatures in the low 80s. But the duration of this year’s winter weather, including last week’s record snowfall, has hindered the preparation of golfers throughout the area.
Several coaches say their teams had hardly been outside before this week, when the high-40s temperatures seemed like a heat wave. Some participating in this Saturday’s season-opening Harrison Invitational at Coyote Crossing expect elevated scores.
“Everybody on the team is just struggling to get in a groove,” Lafayette Jeff senior Alex Barrick said. “It’s not necessarily that they’re struggling. They just haven’t had enough practices.”
A common indoor practice routine for area teams involved hitting balls at close range into nets — often the ones used for the baseball team’s batting cages. Since some area courses have not yet opened due to the weather, teams may or may not have had driving range access.
Players say the indoor sessions help refine their swings, but only to a point. Barrick said he diagnosed an over-the-top tendency in his swing only after watching the flight of a shot outdoors.
“The issue is, a lot of us don’t remember our distances,” West Lafayette senior Jay Chapman said. “It’s hard to hit that 100-yard shot every time and do it well when you haven’t practiced it, especially on the course. For people who have gotten taller and gotten stronger, it’s even harder when they can’t see where their shots are landing.”
McCutcheon coach Avery Boaz says short games, which rely more on finesse and touch, will also suffer from the lack of access to greens and playing 9-hole practice rounds. Twin Lakes coach Kyle Kline, with a young roster that includes seven freshmen and sophomores, says the delay has hindered other development.
“Our young kids need the time to get out on the course to learn how to score, review the rules, and to learn course management,” Kline said. “Unfortunately, our course just opened (Monday). We usually would not play in 42-degree weather with a wind chill of 35, but since we are playing this next Saturday, we had to get some experience on the course.”
Shane Weist, general manager for both Battle Ground Club and Coyote Crossing, says Battle Ground opened about a month behind schedule, and Coyote Crossing will open on Saturday. He said Battle Ground is in “really great shape,” and while Coyote Crossing was still wet, preparations were not far behind schedule.
There’s more good news ahead for area golfers: temperatures are expected to reach the mid-60s this weekend.
“Sixties will be awesome,” said Coverdale, who braved Wednesday’s practice at The Ravines in a short-sleeved golf shirt. “I can’t wait for 60s.”