Technology is a wonderful thing, especially if you're a member of the Minot High boys golf team.
With the seemingly annual mid-April snowstorm hitting the Minot area, the Magicians have been forced off the links and into the lower floors of Central Campus. In the past, that would be a recipe for disaster, but it's not so bad this year as Minot is still getting plenty of swings in.
Thanks to the Minot Junior Golf Association, which purchased an $8,000 golf simulator in the offseason, the Magicans aren't losing valuable practice time due to inclement weather.
MDN File Photo
Minot High senior Taran Albright is among four of the Magicians’ top six scorers returning this season.
"Luckily we have some facilities indoors now so we're not just sitting in a meeting or anything like that," Minot coach Shane Hannegrefs said. "We've been able to hit real golf balls while we've been inside. It's been a huge help for us. Some of the kids really got in here and did some extra practice on their own and worked on their games."
Said senior Jersey Kelly: "It's better than what we've had in the years I've been here. We definitely started a lot earlier and I feel when we came out onto the course for our first practice we were more ready."
Hannegrefs, in his first year with the Magicians, is taking over for Scott Foltz, who resigned following last year's state tournament. A former Minot State and Garrison-Max golfer, Hannegrefs inherits a wealth of experience as Minot returns four of its top six scorers from last season. Sophomore Cody Reynolds finished tied for ninth at the state tournament last year with a two-round total of 160 and received all-state honors.
"I got a lot of experience with dealing with pressure," Reynolds said. "Last year, that's pretty much what I had to deal with."
Kelly, fellow senior Taran Albright and junior Ty Jones join Reynolds as members of last year's top six. Hannegrefs said 21 kids tried out for golf this season and many are competing for those final two spots left open by graduates Tyler Kast and Braxton Heupel.
"It's going to be very competitive," he said. "Right now we've got eight or nine kids that are very close together from what we can see. We want to get outside and get some reps in, post some scores so we can see who's going to be ready."
The Magicians hope to build off a fifth-place finish at state last year. Kelly, Reynolds and Albright all carded a round in the 70s and one in the 80s. Minot's top four will be relied on to record low scores this season.
"We have to look at them becoming consistent at posting multiple rounds and multiple days in the 70s and all four are capable of that," Hannegrefs said.
When the Magicians are finally able to play in a tournament, Hannegrefs isn't worried about his team's performance off the tee. He said the Magicians will be "more than average" in that category. The bigger issue is hitting greens in regulation and attacking the flag stick as to not put as much pressure on putting.
"Short game is difficult to judge right now," Hannegrefs said. "Even when we've been outside on the courses, being this early in the spring, greens change so much between now and when we'll be playing. I do like where we're at with our short game even though it's a little limited."
The Magicians had their first tournament in Dickinson on April 14 postponed, but hope to open their season Monday in the Minot Invitational at Souris Valley Golf Course.
Mike Kraft covers Minot High athletics. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23_MDN.