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Brutal winter slows preparation on the links

Hitting the links in early April is always questionable in Connecticut, but this early season has been tougher than usual for most area golf teams.

“This is the ninth year I’ve been coaching and this is the worst weather we have had,” Maloney coach Steve Page said. “We couldn’t get outside. The golf course opened late. We couldn’t get out until Tuesday (April 2). It’s been too wet.”

Most teams turn to the driving range when their home course is unavailable. Page and his young Spartans turned to the classroom. They had no choice.

“The driving range hasn’t been open,” Page said. “We do a lot of chipping and putting. We watched YouTube videos in my classroom to learn golf etiquette and rules. We watched videos on grip, stance and swinging the clubs. It’s very instructive.”

Cheshire coach Dan Lee said golf is one of the more challenging sports to play in the early spring.

“Other sports can go indoors and get a lot out of it,” Lee said. “Going to the driving range doesn’t translate to the golf course and get your swing back. We might be on only once or twice before the season starts, with rain and snow. Courses are waiting for it to dry out.”

Cheshire is scheduled to open up on Wednesday against Xavier at Portland Golf Club.

“Everybody is in the same position,” Lee said. “We are hoping to string some good days. Hopefully, we will move quickly from a cold winter into a warm spring.”

The Rams will have a tougher schedule this season as the SCC has scrapped the old league format and split into Division I and Division II based on past scoring average. Cheshire is Division I. Sheehan and Lyman Hall are in Division II.

Lyman Hall coach Mike Blake said he is in favor of the realignment. But for now, Blake just wants to get his team ready for the season.

“We haven’t been able to get out at all,” Blake said on Thursday. “The first time we might get out could be the opening match (Thursday) against Sheehan.”

Blake said in the past four years he has been picking his team based on how they hit indoors.

“I’m a proponent of golf being played in the fall,” Blake said. “The availability of the courses is better and the kids are coming off of a summer of playing. They would enter the season in tip-top shape.”

Southington could have a huge spring, coming off a state tournament appearance. Blue Knights coach Jim DiNello said he doesn’t expect his team to be slowed by the weather.

“We started playing a few rounds this week,” DiNello said. “We are a little behind, but we will find a way to make it up. It did slow the team selection a little bit, but we will make it up.”

Wilcox Tech is another squad anticipating a big season paced by its perennial leader, RJ Kogut.

“We have been going to ranges and putting,” coach Steve Wodarski said. “Wednesday (April 3) was our first day on the course. I’m very comfortable with my top four. I’m just waiting to see who emerges for that fifth spot.”

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