What players have to deal with on a usual basis are short days and bone-chilling winds, which makes it a challenge to prepare for the season.
“This time of year it’s really a struggle battling the elements. This year so far has been pretty nice. We haven’t had to cancel yet. We‘ve at least got to play everyday, so that‘s cool,” SSHS boys golf coach Nick Wirshing said. “It’s tough battling the elements this time of year and just getting to the point where we’re ready to compete. The tournament days the weather is not great either, so we have just have to deal with it. We really don’t hit our stride until midway through the season anyway. It’s one of the obstacles we just have to deal with.”
Reed boys golf coach Nick Nemsgern shared similar sentiments.
“We had our first day of eligible tryouts this last Saturday and I had the boys out there at LakeRidge. Because the sun never poked out, I don’t think it ever felt warmer than 40 degrees,” Nemsgern said. “The major problem with starting this early is not that it’s cold because we all know that. It’s your muscles and the ability to stretch and your ability to hit the ball like you’re used to coming off last fall, is messed up, especially for my better golfers. They’re used to hitting an 8 iron 160 yards. In this cold weather, the ball just doesn’t compress, so it only goes 148, you come up a club short and you’re frustrated. Because of that, you think you’re not that good, but the conditions have a lot to do with that.”
Both coaches are excited for the potential of the upcoming season, which begins March 19 at RedHawk.
Reed just finished making cuts with seven returning golfers out of the 12, while Spanish Springs hasn’t even really started keeping score to see where all the players stand. Wirshing said he will find out a lot about his team in that first tournament, but he is happy with how much golf his guys played in the offseason.
“We’ve been going for a week now, so we’re still trying to feel things out,” Wirshing said. “It’s been pretty good so far. We have a lot of guys returning. We have Anthony Decker back which is awesome after battling cancer last year. We have a couple guys who played pretty well last year. Tommy McAllister and Cole Shirley are going to be our leaders this year. We’re still pretty young. We have no seniors. We’re still trying to feel things out and see which one of our younger guys will step up and be contributors for us.”
Spanish Springs earned a state tournament berth a year ago after finishing second at regionals. Now graduated Jordan Gilmore led the way, winning the individual title in a playoff.
However, Reed returns the only player to best Gilmore in a High Desert League tournament and that has Nemsgern excited.
Junior Trevor Wood missed out on qualifying for state as an individual last spring by two strokes. His Day 1 score of 88 at regionals put him in a deep hole, but he fired up a 72 the next day to show what he can really do.
“I can tell three or four of my junior class players have really put time in this last summer, so expectations are definitely higher than they were last year,” Nemsgern said. “I think coming in last year, I only knew of one really good stick, but we grew as the season went on. I don’t know if anyone in town can compete with those Manogue boys over there because they’re fantastic. I know Spanish Springs is always very solid. I think my group is pretty good.
“This year Trevor is playing solid. I can tell he’s ready to go. He’s trying to be consistent. He wants to play college golf. It looks like he’s putting in the time for it. His ultimate goal is to play in state, with or without our team. That’s without a doubt where he wants to be in May.”
Nemsgern also is eager to see what one senior in particular can do for the Blue and Gold.
“Garrett Marchese is a senior and he can kill the ball a mile. I’m really excited for him this season,” Nemsgern said. “I know he’s going to be in my Top 3 all year. He’s a good kid.”
Losing Decker last year was a blow to the Cougars, but his return might provide an emotional lift. He was the team’s No. 2 golfer during his freshman year, but he isn’t quite up to 100 percent physically after going through chemotherapy treatments during his sophomore year. Wirshing said Decker’s lower body is still somewhat weak and he will be allowed to use a cart for tournaments. But the weakness in his lower body also forced Decker to change his swing.
“He’s such a good athlete that he’s managing. His upper body is really strong,” Wirshing said. “We think he will be able to compete for us at some point, hopefully in the first tournament. It’s really to the point of when he can play 18 holes. He’s going to be able to use a cart, so that will help him a lot. But it’s still going to be a struggle for him to play 18 holes with the strength in his lower body the way it is right now.”
The Raiders had their own emotional blows to deal with a year ago, although not on the same spectrum as a player battling cancer.
Reed lost its home course of D’Andrea before the season started and scrambled to find courses that would host practices and Reed's annual tournament.
The Raiders are in a similar situation this season, but it may be a blessing in disguise, considering the schedule Nemsgern created with the help of area golf pros.
Reed will share LakeRidge Golf Course with Manogue either two or three days a week and it will host its HDL tournament there on April 29. On Tuesdays before the tournaments start, Reed will be allowed on Washoe Golf Course with Reno High. Reed then gets to practice at RedHawk with Spanish Springs every Thursday this spring, and every other Friday the Raiders travel up to Sierra Sage with North Valleys. That puts Reed on four different courses that host league tourneys, which could turn out to be an advantage.
“This year we seem to be reveling in the situation again because we don’t have a true home course,” Nemsgern said. “We’re kind of like a touring pro where we get to play somewhere different everyday and play different greens. You get the advantage of trying your game out on different tracks. I think it will help us. It might not help our gas mileage, but it will help our golf game.”