'There’s not a lot that have this'; Concordia's new golf simulator provides year-round play for the Cobbers
When Joe Christanson took over the Cobbers golf program six years ago, he wondered how the team practiced come winter. Thanks to a few donors over the summer, they're making sure that Concordia has the chance to hit the links year around.
MOORHEAD– When living in the Upper Midwest, you take the good days, with the bad, especially come winter.
“Our seasons are so short, you take advantage of what you have. Then you look for places or ways to get better in the off-season,” said Concordia College’s Director of golf Operations, Joe Christianson.
Being a Minnesota native and coaching a Cobbers golf team that has their conference schedule in the fall… Christianson knows that those days outside on the links are precious.
“I remember it seemed like right when I got here we were like ‘what do we do in the winter, where do we go,” said Christianson.
So Christianson had the idea of bringing Concordia golf indoors.
“There’s not a lot that have this,” said Christianson.
Inside Olson Forum, a. in a 700 square foot room, an idea turned into reality. The grand price tag nears $35,000, with the main event being a golf simulator.
“We really got after it this summer and pushed our Cobber AM, our golf tournament, and then really started working on what we wanted it to look like, what do we want in here, and really building this room how we want it,” said Christianson.
“We haven't had much, a couple of our golfers have some setups at home. Moorhead Country Club has been our home course and they have something very similar to this that they have set up. We have some of our kids too who are at Fargo Country Club and they have some things too. We have kind of pieced it together individually, ways that they can work on their game. But again, here on campus we can do stuff together. Our guys and our girls can do stuff together and that’s just helping build that team chemistry and that culture that we want to have,” he added.
“Just pure excitement, I’m so thankful for everyone who donated, worked for us, fought for us to get this. I mean this is such a big deal for a D3 school, that we are. I mean I never thought that in my college career as a D3 athlete that we would get something to this extent,” said junior Abbey Frauenholtz.
Not only does this simulator serve as a driving range, but a place to play more than 150 different courses nationwide, all while analyzing that perfect shot.
“We didn’t really expect I guess for this to happen, but since it is we’re going to take full advantage of it. It’s incredible and we have big time slot, 8am to 10pm or something to come here. So we can just text our guys, text our friends to come in here and we all get to play together and it’s just a fun time. It’s fun to play like some big courses that the PGA tour plays at or where majors are hosted,” said sophomore Ryan Jenson.
There’s not a shot in the game of golf that we can’t do here. So it’s just nice like if I’m having a tough time with my driver when I’m playing a round, then the next day I can come in and just do range with my driver,” said Frauenholtz.
“It’s just nice that we actually have something to use from October through April, when we don’t have an outdoor season. The summers are great outside, but it’s just nice that we can have at least three, four days, I mean even just one round a week can improve everyone’s game,” she added.
It’s also an opportunity to bring both the men’s and women’s teams together in a space they otherwise wouldn’t have.
“I would do workouts but other than that there wasn’t really a place that we could go to get indoor practice,” said Frauenholtz.
“I have to think there’s not many schools like us that have something like this. So when it comes to bringing in more players and recruiting and showing them this. We get a majority of our players from up here, there’s a lot of good golf in this area. So when we can bring them in here and show them this, "hey this is what you can do all winter". That's what is going to separate us from the other schools that are going after the same kids because there are not many that have this,” said Christianson.
So as it stays below freezing outside, the Cobbers are warming up to the idea that can be played year round in Moorhead.
“I just got new irons and if I wouldn’t have had this practice facility we would have had to go out in the spring and it would have been my first time hitting those clubs. So that’s a big change, it's a big difference,” said Frauenholtz.
“I know too it just makes our team so much stronger. I mean we get to work on this as much as we want and I know that we come in pairs. I feel like it makes us feel like not a D3 school, because everyone is like ‘D3 athletes, you guys aren’t real athletes’ but now it’s like now we are. We have this awesome practice facility and we’ll get so much better,” she added.
“Now that we’re on campus and we have this year, the skies are the limit for our programs now,” said Christianson.
In addition to the simulator, a putting green will be added, as well as couches and TVs, making it a hang out space for everyone in the Cobbers golf program.