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ND Women’s Golf: Winter weather poses challenges for golfers

Vicky Jacobsen | Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The biggest challenge for Notre Dame in the offseason isn’t practice schedules or conditioning. It’s the daunting South Bend winter weather — a challenge Notre Dame’s southern competitors do not have to address.

Since a dusting of snow can make a round of golf a near impossibility, long-distance travel remains a fact of life for student-athletes who attend school in the north. Although the No. 15 Irish did not go on a training trip during winter break like some other varsity squads, the Irish regularly travel to tournaments held in warm locales during the winter months. This year’s schedule includes stops in Kaneohe, Hawaii; Stockbridge and Athens, Ga.; and Palm Harbor, Fla., in addition to the Central District Invitational in Parrish, Fla., this past week.

But the team still faces the challenge of finding a way to train productively when they return from competition or risk falling behind their competition from schools in warm climates.

The solution? Practice inside.

While it is hard to think of playing golf — a sport that usually requires a course covering several acres — while confined indoors, the Rolfs Family All-Season Varsity Golf Facility at the Warren Golf Course allows the Irish to hone their skills and stay in tip-top shape, even when the weather fails to cooperate. The facility, which the men’s and women’s teams share, houses a pitch and chip area and a practice bunker. in addition to a large putting green.

“We have one of the best indoor facilities in the country,” senior captain Katie Conway said. “We can really practice every shot imaginable from right around the green.”

The members of the golf team can also perfect their tee shots without having to leave the building.

“We can hit from inside onto the driving range, which is outside in the snow,” freshman Nicole Zhang said.

The Rolfs facility, which originally opened in 2006, is regularly improved in order to give the Irish every possible advantage. The latest renovation, which was completed last week, added several new lies and types of synthetic grass to better simulate conditions the team might see on a course during competition.

Traditionally, northern schools have not been able to compete with the golf programs blessed with warm weather, especially during the spring season following the long winter layoff. But the Irish believe that their winter training will help them defy conventional logic and compete successfully against some of the country’s top teams.

“We may not be able to play outside, but our facility certainly allows us to stay in top form during the rough South Bend winters,” Conway said.