Golf team springs into second semester schedule

Jon Young

Despite the cold weather and soggy grounds, the NMU men’s golf team is getting ready to kick off the second half of the season this weekend. Head coach Dean Ellis, who has been the team’s head coach since 1993, said the golfers have all put up solid individual performances but have yet to play solidly as a team.

“I think we need to be more consistent,” Ellis said. “I think our whole team as individuals has played very well at times and you know golf is tricky in the fact that hopefully everybody can perform at their best on a given day, and that’s way easier said than done.”

The ’Cats finished the fall part of their season with a ninth place finish at the GLIAC Golf Championship. Junior Tony Bilich led the ’Cats in the tournament, placing 17th and shooting a two-day total of 228. Freshman Mike Murphy was the second-highest finisher for the ’Cats, with a 26th place showing and a score of 232.

The snow hasn’t given the ’Cats  much of a chance to practice outside in the early spring season, but the team has been able to practice in the Superior Dome using limited flight golf balls, which travel less than regular golf balls. Junior Adam Huss said it helps to get back into a rhythm.

“We have been hitting foam balls in the Dome to get prepared for this spring,” Huss said. “This really gives us a chance to get our rhythm back and groove our swings for the course.”

Ellis said the indoor practice is useful for seeing the realistic output of their golf swing, whereas lots of teams in northern regions have to shoot into nets, which doesn’t give them much feedback on their shots.

“We’re fortunate that we’ve been able to hit balls in the Dome,” Ellis said. “We’re limited, but less limited than some schools.”

The Wildcats will put their practice to the test this weekend as they travel to the Parkside Invitational on Sunday, March 27 in Columbus, Ind. The Wildcats are at a disadvantage with some of their southern competitors due to the weather conditions.

“There are a number of teams in our region and from the southern part of the country in the tournament,” Ellis said. “It’s always a major challenge for northern teams in that setting because obviously we’re just coming out of a snow bank. Golf is a huge repetition game, and we haven’t had much in the outdoors at all.”

Following the Parkside Invitational, the ’Cats will have a busy month of April with matches every weekend. Huss said the team hopes to get back into the swing of things quickly and move up in the standings as the season progresses.

“Our goals for this spring season are to get use to playing as quickly as possible and to continue to improve our team’s positioning throughout the tournaments,” Huss said.