Winona State University men’s golf will return to the green this week, as they travel to Las Vegas for two invites, marking their first action since October.
While the weather in Minnesota, hasn’t allowed for much golfing during this time off, head coach Jeff Straight is still confident heading into the spring season., despite the difficult winter conditions. Noting that some of his player traveled out of state in an effort to better prepare themselves.
“Our conference teams need to have the same play. I think we’re in pretty good shape. I think we’re pretty relaxed. I think we’ve worked really hard in the off season. That’s what we always struggle with. . . It’s difficult to compete when you haven’t touched grass in six months.”
With the preparation has done, Straight believes that the team is in solid standing, and hopes their efforts are rewarded with the upcoming schedule.
“All in all I think pretty good. I think we’re in pretty good shape overall,” Straight said. “Had some guys work super hard so we’ll see if that work pays off.”
The winter problem is not a new one for the team, and it is one that Straight is used to facing.
“That’s kind of the way it works and always has and always will,” Straight said. “Our goal is to make regionals. How we do that is primarily from playing really, really well in the fall. We believe we can compete at a higher level in the fall because we’re coming out of summer.”
With the trip to Vegas, the team’s focus is required shifted from just team’s in the conference.
“I’m talking about competing against southern teams because that is our focus. Our focus is not our conference, our focus is playing well against teams in Missouri and Kansas and Oklahoma, that have a big advantage over us playing during the season.”
Straight hopes that these upcoming invites are good warmup for action coming up later in the season in Missouri.
“Our goal is really to try to play as much as we can in the fall in the south and then go to Vegas where it’s a warmer climate, play some different kinds of tournaments and get warmed up so we can play. We have a tournament near St. Lois, Missouri that really, there are some top teams that are nationally ranked that we’re playing against.’
Straight believes the Warriors are ready to contend against not only NSIC, but some of the best teams in the NSIC.
“Coming out of the fall we played really good against those teams,” Straight said. “We beat some teams that are ranked in the top 20 in the nation. Central Missouri’s a good example. We didn’t beat them, but we tied them twice. The team is ranked 20th in the nation, our records at 0-0 with two against them. Two shots better, one in each tournament, we’re ahead of the top 20 team in the nation. I like where we’re sitting.”
One thing that the head coach stressed was his confidence in his team, and detailing each individuals strengths and how he has been impressed with their ability to play the game. One in particular being junior, Tyler Beeck, who Straight described as a leader of the team.
“He’s our lead captain,” Straight said. “He’s really playing up to his potential. He was number two in scoring on the team in the fall. So, he’s continually developed.”
When asked about his leadership role with the team, Beeck talked about how he believes that it was his coach that developed him into the person he is today.
“Coach Straight has helped me immensely into becoming a leader on this team by giving me different responsibilities and decision-making opportunities,” Beeck said. “I try to be the best leader I can be, whether that be on the course, or as simple as just being a good friend outside of golf. I’m looking forward to help lead the team throughout the rest of my career.”
Like his coach, Beeck has set a high bar for this team season and his hopeful in the team’s ability.
“We have some high expectations for this spring and are very excited to get going in Las Vegas,” Beeck said. “A big goal of our teams is to put ourselves in position to win every tournament we’re at. Our number one goal is to win conference and advance on to the NCAA super regional tournament. Having been so close the last two years, I think everyone has been really driven this offseason to work as hard as possible. I’m really excited to see what we can do this spring and I think we have a lot of good golf ahead of us.”
The Warriors will see their first action Friday, March 8 as the team competes in the Minot Vegas Invite.