Cold April temp, winds blowing for Macalester golf teams

By Will Kennedy

Frigid conditions last week made the season’s first tournaments complicated for Macalester’s golf teams. The women played one day less than originally planned and had to relocate on account of the weather from Northfield to Shakopee, a southwest suburb of the Twin Cities. The men, playing at the Wartburg Spring Invitational in Waverly, Iowa, struggled with near freezing temperatures and snow. Although early in the season, the stakes are already high for two of the women’s golfers, Jordan Matheson ’09 and Karla Leon ’10.

“The big goal is for Jordan and Karla to get to nationals,” head coach Martha Nause said. “Right now everything counts.”

At last week’s tournament, Matheson tied for seventh with a score of 85 in the 38 person contest while Leon finished tied for 13th on a round of 88. The results were decent, but as Matheson notes, “there’s always room for improvement,” especially considering that anything less than a national tournament berth would be a disappointment for both women. Leon qualified for nationals last year and Matheson was the team’s top golfer in the 2007 MIAC championships. With three scheduled tournaments remaining, neither golfer can afford a bad day.

“Individually Karla and I are in the hunt,” Matheson said. “If we have a really solid tournament next week, it should mean good things for our chances.”

As a team, despite the cold, a course recovering from its winter hiatus, and an unlucky break, Mac women’s golf finished in a third place tie with Carleton in the 8-team tournament. Lauren Ballewske ’10 suffered a two-stroke penalty when her putt, headed toward the hole, hit the pin after her Augsburg counterpart failed to remove it. The error cost Ballewske her lifetime best round of golf and cost the Scots sole possession of third place.

Despite this setback, Nause was not disappointed with the overall performance. “It was their first tournament of the season on a golf course they’d never seen before,” she said. “As a team, I thought we did pretty well.” Mac beat St. Benedict’s which had been ranked in the top-25 nationally early in the year and played right with Carleton which was ranked in the top-20 in the last coach’s poll.

On the men’s side, golfers are looking ahead to next fall’s MIAC season rather than a potential National berth for some of their competitors. However, last week in Iowa, it was hard to focus on anything as 20 mile an hour winds and snow bombarded the course during day one of the tournament.

“The first day was probably the worst I’ve played in,” Ben Langworthy ’11 said. “The snow would accumulate on the ball as you were putting.”

Nause agreed with this assessment saying that she had never played in worse weather during her 22 year tour in the LPGA.

“It’s really tough to play golf in those conditions,” she said. “I have to say the guys played very well.”

After the first day of the tournament was called after nine holes, the Scots returned the next day and completed the final 27 holes of the tournament which lasted between eight and nine hours.

Top Mac performer Nick Santrach ’11 finished 26th in the nearly 100 golfer field with rounds of 80 and 79.

Macalester finished 14th out of 18 teams, a result that many on the squad believe can be improved upon. “A lot of us had some disaster holes, [and] we’d like to eliminate the stupid mistakes,” Santrach said. “The first day, the team didn’t perform up to standards; the second day we did a lot better.”

Langworthy exemplified his teammate’s claims. After suffering two triple bogies and a quadruple bogie on his first 18 holes of golf, he returned to shoot a team best 76 over the last 18.

“I got a couple of good breaks” Langworthy said. “For the most part I just did a good job of taking it one hole at a time.”

The arrival of 60-degree days may make it easier for Langworthy and his male and female teammates to keep doing just that as they prepare for the spring’s remaining tournaments.