Las Vegas tournament will be spring opener for men’s golf
Leaving South Dakota’s snowy tundra, Augustana’s men’s golf team travels to the desert of Nevada for spring break.
The Vikings will be playing in the third annual Minot State-Montana State Billings Beaver-Jacket Invite at the Aliante Golf Club in Las Vegas, Nev., Mar. 10-11.
This will be the team’s first meet since ending the fall season in October. During its fall season Augustana finished in the top six at four of its five meets, including a third-place finish at the Battle at the Falls in September.
“The fall is still important [to our season] because you can get at-large regional bids if you don’t win your conference tournament,” junior Parker Klitzke said. “But spring is more important because that’s when our conference tournament is, so everything we do in the spring kind of leads up to the conference tournament ,and the ultimate goal is to win the tournament.”
The team closed the fall season at the Central Region Classic, ending in a tie for 12th place with Bemidji State.
“We’re really getting into it,” junior Les Williams said. “We’re having practices every day and then we’re trying to peak and play as much golf as we can because golf is only a month-and-a-half during the spring. So we have to peak at the right time.”
Having a five-month break between seasons would be hard for any sport, and battling the weather makes it more difficult.
Since the end of the fall season, the team has been practicing at the Dakota Golf green when the weather has permitted and the Kirby Indoor Golf Center during the colder months.
Playing outside in Las Vegas allows the Vikings to show that they’ve practiced in spite of the cold weather.
“In my opinion we didn’t play well enough in the fall to get a regional berth,” Klitzke said. “ I looked at the regional rankings and we’re 14th as a team and I believe only the top eight get into regions. So the ultimate goal is to win conference, and for us to do that I think it’s really important to create momentum early— especially in Las Vegas over spring break and the tournament that directly follows that in Topeka, Kan.”
Half of the team is comprised of freshmen, and three of the five travel team members didn’t have any college golf experience during the fall season.
“I think we obviously want to stack up well against the teams in our conference,” sophomore Carter Kranz said. “We know that on any given day we can be a competitive team in the conference. Ultimately our goal going [into this weekend] would be to contend in this tournament and give ourselves a chance to win.”
Experienced or not, golf is a game of focus. Kranz hopes the team has it this spring
“This season I think our team really just needs to focus on the small things and continue to keep a good attitude toward the game,” Kranz said. “Golf is so much a mental game, and everyone on the team needs to continue to work on that aspect of it as well.”