As golfers in the Midwest, practicing during the winter months can be somewhat difficult. Because it’s colder, and there’s typically snow on the ground, golfers aren’t allowed to practice outside.
Instead, they must find ways to get their practice in and get ready for their spring season as best they can. For the University of South Dakota men’s and women’s golf teams, they resort to using the DakotaDome for practice.
“It’s not the same as practicing and hitting outside, but it’s what we have, and it’s better than nothing,” junior Alyna Vaughan said.
Golf is purely an outdoor sport and requires an outdoor venue to play, so the Coyote golfers do their best to imitate an actual round.
“You can’t really see the ball flight on most shots, but you’re working more on technique than anything,” junior Victoria Grasso said.
Technique, visualizing the shot and developing a routine are just some of the ways Coyote golfers are able to best replicate an outdoor practice.
“You have to be able to bring your playing mentality into your practice to succeed,” Vaughan said. “Being able to visualize your shots as best you can is how you can translate your indoor practice to your actual game.”
The drills the teams do in the Dome may look different from what golfers do outside, but it’s part of the process of visualization and repetition.
“We do lots of drills, hit into the nets, have putting competitions and use obstacles to visualize our shots and landing areas,” Vaughan said.
Unfortunately, the Dome only allows for limited practice for the golf team because of how many teams need to use the Dome.
“We’re given two time periods a week where we get to come in and hit balls,” junior men’s golfer Miles Death said.
Because of this limited practice time, the players selected to compete in the early season meets go through a different process compared to when the Coyotes are allowed to practice outside.
“The first few meets are based off of the end of the fall season’s results,” Death said. “The players who finish the best in the fall usually are the ones who qualify for the earlier meets in the spring.”
In the fall, and later in the spring, qualifying rounds usually allow a team member to compete at one of the meets. Although the early season meets typically have differing qualifying procedures, it doesn’t mean one of the Coyotes who doesn’t travel early can’t change the coache’s mind.
“If you’re able to impress the coaches early with your practice in the Dome then you could possibly get to travel to one of the earlier meets,” Death said.