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Women’s golf picks up their short game outside

BY MAGGIE CUNNINGHAM | MARCH 09, 2011 7:20 AM

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If the Iowa women’s golf team is going to recuperate from its disappointing spring season-opener, the players need to step up their short games.

But regaining the “feel” for approach shots and puts after a long break can be especially challenging when Iowa’s winter weather has only allowed the team to practice outside a few times.

“I think our chipping affected our scores the most [at the season-opener],” senior Lauren Forbes said. “We were able to spend hours on our short game when we arrived in Kiawah Island, S.C. [for the Edwin Watts/Kiawah Island Classic], but unfortunately, you can’t really get all of your feel back in a matter of 24 hours.”

A golfer can never pay too much attention to the short game — that’s why the Hawkeyes have dedicated every practice to improving it.

“Your short game is never too good,” senior Laura Cilek said. “I definitely could save a few shots every round by improving my short game. Our entire team has focused hard on working on our short game these past couple weeks.”

The team focuses on the technique of various pitch shots from 20 to 70 yards on certain days. On other days, golfers attempt to land the ball in a targeted spot every shot.

Half of their week’s practice is spent in the Field House, sharpening putting and chipping skills as well as brushing up on basic mechanics in the newly revamped short-game room.

“In the short-game room, we are able to work on chips around the green that may range from 5 to 15 and 20 yards,” Forbes said. “The new putting turf is as good as it gets for indoor putting.”

No matter how well simulated the indoor facilities are, members of the team said it’s no comparison to playing outside. There are no substitutions to create the conditions that wind and real grass provide.

“Although we do practice a lot in our facilities, nothing compares to real grass,” junior Chelsea Harris said. “It takes a little while to adjust. It was pretty difficult for me to trust my feel and trust my reading of the green.”

It is essential for golfers to trust their mechanics in order to develop that “feel” for the green, Harris said — something that can only be done outside on the course.

Since its season-opener at Kiawah Island, the team has only been able to practice outside a few times. The Hawkeyes agree that even the small amount of outdoor practice will be reflected in the overall team score they produce at the Jackrabbit Invitational in Primm, Nev., March 14-15.

“We have been very lucky to get outside a couple days a week to hit balls and wedge shots off grass and in bunkers,” Forbes said. “Any practice we can get on grass will most definitely be reflected in our scores for the Jackrabbit Invitational next week.”

Whether the team is in competition or practice, chipping and putting is key in a golf round. An individual’s short game can decide where the entire team finishes.

“If [the short game] is sketchy from not practicing, it will show,” sophomore Kristi Cardwell said. “I feel that you can never put enough time into the short game; it is just something that has to be focused on every single day.”


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