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Kolpack: Time to move the high school boys golf season out of spring weather

NDHSAA needs to think out of the box and start the high school season in mid-July.

Golf
North Dakota high school boys golf players over the years have gotten accustomed to playing in cool weather in the spring.
Forum file photo
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In the multi-decades in this business and hanging around meteorologists, two things stand out: I’m continually amazed how they take a global atmospheric element and usually come strikingly close if not spot-on to accurate weather predictions. And they’re some of the smartest people on the planet.

I’d never want to face John Wheeler in a Trivial Pursuit board game. It would be over before it started.

Wheeler, the WDAY chief meteorologist, earlier this week in his “WeatherTalk” column at InForum.com addressed the fact extreme weather conditions in April are common for our region.

“Spring is the time of year to expect more extreme weather,” Wheeler wrote.

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On April 18, Daryl Ritchison, the director of the North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network at North Dakota State, put out this tweet on how cold the first 17 days of April were.

“Anyone that has been in ND for the past couple of decades won’t be surprised, but as testament to how bad the month of April has been lately, these Aprils were even colder than this month for the first 17 days: 2018, 2013, 1997, 2007 and 2020.”

That’s five first halves of April that were colder than this year. Ouch. And that’s just about the time boys golfers in North Dakota and Minnesota are getting ready for their season.

Here’s the point: It’s time to move the boys golf season to mid-July through late August or early September. Minnesota is a behemoth of a high school association and we’ll deal with them later.

For now, it’s time for the North Dakota High School Activities Association to take action. Let’s quit burying our collective heads in the snirt (snow and dirt). The kids deserve better than to worry more about how many layers to wear on the first tee than how to play the first hole.

Over the years, how many times have you seen high school golf highlights on the local news and wonder how these stocking cap-clad kids can feel their hands? The Fargo North boys golf team held tryouts in the spring of 2021 with a thin layer of snow on the ground.

Instead of hoping for good weather, let’s hope for a good decision. Move the season. I made this plea on my golf radio show last week and the head boys golf coach at Kenmare, N.D., told me on social media he was all for it.

The positives outweigh the negatives, he said.

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Let’s get into those two factors.

The positives: Weather, of course. There’s no question high schools would get more tournaments in six weeks than they do all spring. Moreover, players would be at their best at a late summer state tournament.

And, while we’re at it, make the state tournament more of an event. Hold it on a weekend instead of the current mid-week setup.

The negatives: It’s not the norm to start a high school season in mid-summer, although I would argue up here we need to think outside the box. Course availability in that time frame needs to be addressed. The head club professionals I've talked to think that can be handled.

I asked a local administrator what I’m missing here. Teacher/contract issues? Administrative issues?

No, I was told.

The possibility exists of a conflict with summer tournaments. But Chris Geiss, the executive director of the Dakota Junior Golf Association and the spark of that group taking that program to another level, gave his blessing. The DJGA has 13 events scheduled statewide from early June to mid-July. The Dakota Junior Championships are Aug 3-4 in Bismarck; perhaps that could be held after the state high school tournament.

The possibility exists of a conflict with multisport athletes, specifically football and soccer in the fall. My belief is that would be minimal and in the rare cases, schools can make it work.

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Jake Deutsch of Central Cass played basketball and wrestled in the same season last winter. The Squirrels made it work. Moreover, with a mid-July boys golf start, the season would end one or two games into a football season.

If some football coach has a problem with that, then he needs to get his head out of 1978 and realize this is 2022. And understand this is North Dakota, not Florida.

Ask John Wheeler the difference of weather between North Dakota and Florida in April. And hope it’s not in a Trivial Pursuit game.

Related Topics: PREP SPORTSGOLF
Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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