Golf is unlike any other sport. “Home-field advantage” is virtually non-existent. Players have to adjust to the many different courses, weather conditions and general atmospheres of the tournaments in which they compete.
Preparing for weather conditions is close to impossible for the ASU players. Living and playing in the desert has its disadvantages when a tournament could be held in a cold, rainy location. Players have to do the best they can to prepare for the course itself, as well as any roughs or unusual slopes.
Upon arriving at a course, players have a very limited amount of time to learn any last-minute details before heading out to play. Sophomore Trey Kaahanui said that time before a tournament starts is very important.
“The best way of being prepared is using that one day of preparation at the tournament to really soak up all the information possible,” said Kaahanui.
It is also beneficial for these players to have experienced coaching behind them. Coaches Tim Mickelson and Melissa Luellen provide their players with information on the course if they have played on the course personally. Mickelson says that if it is a course he has not visited, he will contact the course or find as much information on the Internet.
“Once I know a few things, such as green complexes and the speed of the greens, as well as what type of course it is off the tee, that will determine what courses we practice at leading up to the tournament,” Mickelson said. “For example, if it is a very long and tight course, we would try to find a long or tight course here in Phoenix to practice.”
Sophomore Jon Rahm takes all things into consideration before a tournament. By studying the weather conditions, Rahm can practice hitting certain shots that would work in that type of environment.
“I really look at the weather. If it is a windy place, I practice low trajectory balls. If the weather is good, I would not change anything,” said Rahm. “If the golf course has hard greens with a lot of slopes, I practice a high trajectory ball that lands softly on the green and stops right away.”
When it all comes down to it, the weather is a big factor in how these players and coaches prepare for a tournament. Coach Luellen says the weather can influence carry distance and what type a shot a player attempts.
“For instance, the dry air in Arizona enables the golf ball to fly farther than in a humid climate,” said Luellen. “Players have to determine how much the heavy air affects the distance they hit their clubs.”
Being a golf player comes with such difficulties that many other athletes will never experience. Having the ability to continually adapt to various courses and sudden weather changes during a tournament makes golfers so unique compared to other athletes.
The weather elements do not bend for the players. The only thing they can do is prepare as best they can, and when the moment arises on the green to just tap it in the hole.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @coffeeblack910