Poor weather not a factor for Kelly
Senior golfer flourishes despite poor golf conditions. Kelly holds a 74.2 average and advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals at Cherry Blossom Country Club in Kentucky.
April 25, 2011 —
Warm weather has come in limited spurts this spring.
Nate Kelly’s ability to shoot low scores has not.
The senior advanced to the Super Regional, scheduled May 2 through May 4, to cap off an unusual four-year career.
Under coach Joe Vogl’s system, freshmen generally don’t play in fear of wasting a year of eligibility if one has a bad tournament. In Kelly’s case, Vogl just couldn’t keep him out of the lineup.
“When I took over as coach in the spring of Nate’s freshman season, I played him in some tournaments,” Vogl said. “He’s never been out of the lineup since.”
While SVSU finished 12th in its region and failed to qualify for the Super Regional as a top-10 seed, Kelly’s 74.2 average was enough to send him to Cherry Blossom Country Club.
“It’s been a banner year for Nate,” Vogl said. “No matter if it’s good or bad weather, he shows up to play.
“That’s what you want out of your No. 1 player.”
With snow accumulations well into the month of April, SVSU was unable to establish any sort of practice routine. Vogl said that was a big cause for the Cardinals falling from the No. 4 seed in the fall to the No. 12 seed.
“The weather has been a huge disadvantage,” Vogl said. “We were just able to get out to Bay City Country Club a week and a half ago for the first time.
“It’s just been terrible golf weather.”
The weather forced the team to practice indoors at Kokomo’s and off the Saginaw Golf Centre — something Vogl doesn’t prefer.
When you hit behind the ball on grass, you hit a fat shot,” he said. “When you do the same thing on a mat, you don’t get the same effect. It’s not very realistic.”
The Cardinals took their annual spring trip to Florida in March to get prepared for the season. However, the golf conditions they played under didn’t match the extreme temperatures they had to play in when they returned.
“I’m thinking next year our spring trip will be to Alaska to get us prepared for the weather here,” Vogl joked.
Despite not making it to the Super Regionals, Vogl wasn’t too disappointed in SVSU’s overall performance. Two poor rounds came back to haunt the Cardinals.
Vogl blamed a first round of 330 at Cherry Blossom and the final nine holes at Otter Creek Golf Course in which no Cardinal could break 40.
“There is such a small gap between finishing between 5-15 in the region,” Vogl said. “It all comes down to a couple shots per round.
“You hate to look back on only a round or two costing you a spot, but those two really hurt us.”
Along with Kelly, senior Mike Horn battled through tough conditions with success. Horn was named the GLIAC men’s golf “Athlete of the Week” earlier this season.
“It’s terrific from an individual standpoint to be able to look back on your career and have the award,” Vogl said. “It’s also great for SVSU to get that exposure.”
With the graduation of Kelly and Horn, the Cardinals will turn to their lone senior, Troy Quenneville, for leadership. An experienced nucleus of six underclassmen also returns.
“A lot of our success will depend on how Troy brings his game,” Vogl said.
With the return of his sons, sophomores Drew and Dustin, along with sophomore Eric Gandy, freshman Adam Hansen and sophomore Kreg Sherman, Vogl said the future is promising.
“We have quite a bit of experience coming back,” Vogl said. “A lot of it depends on how hard the guys work over the summer.
“The summer is so crucial to improving.”