The Coyote women’s golf team hits the course for the first time since the fall as the team heads to Sedona, Ariz. for the Northern Arizona Red Rocks Invitational beginning March 2.
The invitational hosts 20 teams, and the Coyotes will be under pressure as they have only been able to practice exclusively in the DakotaDome.
“It will be difficult to get back into the game after being stuck hitting indoors all winter,” sophomore Jordan Rearick said. “Hitting balls and actually playing a round of golf are two completely different things both mentally and physically.”
Practice didn’t officially start until Monday, but the team has been in the Dome practicing during the off season.
“We’re trying to improve our scoring averages from the fall,” head coach Nick Hovden said. “We’re a young team and very much need to gain experience to get those averages down.”
Three of the team’s top five golfers are sophomores, while their top player from last year, junior Hailey Sheldahl, missed all of fall due to injury leaving her in the four spot this year.
“It’ll be interesting to see how Hailey adjusts she’s really the leader of the team and helps push everyone to be better,” said Hovden.
Following the season opener, the Coyotes have a few weeks off before they head out to California for the Drake-Monterey Bay Tournament.
“We are all very excited to finally be able to travel south again and play outdoors, so I think we have a very good energy going into this tournament,” Rearick said. “I have faith in everyone on this team, and I know we will start this spring season off on a positive note.”
The Coyotes have to deal with youth, which will be interesting when they are forced to play at some tough courses in the spring.
“The talent is there, we just have to get better. We’re going to be ready and surprise some conference schools, and ourselves,” Hovden said.
Many of the players’ averages for rounds this fall were in the mid 80’s, which doesn’t cut it for top finishes at many tournaments, especially with teams that get to play in nice weather year round.
To finish off their fall season, the Coyotes ended up last at the Florida International Tournament, where they were 147 strokes behind tournament champions Florida International University. The majority of the problems spectators notice for the Coyotes are youth on the courses, where they were the only team to not record a player shooting in the 70’s.
“I would like to see each of us shoot in the low 70s consistently and finish in the top five in each tournament, if not better,” Rearick said.
Hovden hopes for nice weather soon so they can get outside and practice, and prepare for the Summit Championship in Houston, which is in late April.
“I’m excited to get out there this year. You know we can only use youth as an excuse so long,” said Hovden. “After a while, you’re no longer a freshman or a rookie.”