With Mother Nature failing to cooperate, getting back into the swing of things has been a major challenge this spring for the Fort Dodge girls golf program.
Despite the lack of outdoor practice time, third-year head coach Kristi Clark is upbeat about what lies ahead for the Dodgers.
"We've only been outside a total of three full days, so the weather has definitely not been in our favor, but everybody is in the same boat," Clark said. "We've been doing a lot of indoor time and going over both rules and etiquette, because I just can't afford to give up any days.
"We hit whiffle balls off carpet for the first week and a half, and then we upgraded into hitting balls into a net. The Country Club hasn't been open yet, so Lakeside let us hit on the range."
Seniors Angie Ellendson and Sam Berning, along with sophomores Payton Christy and Kylie Kuiper, all lettered for FDSH a year ago. Gone from last season are regulars Courtney Thrams and Alexis Gregerson.
"At least for the first meet, we're just going to have to go with our same girls from last year," said Clark. "Whoever seems to be most confident in their swing, and gives the most support will get an opportunity (on varsity), which is something I expressed to the girls."
2013 DODGER GIRLS GOLF
Seniors - Sam Berning, Angie Ellendson.
Juniors Bailey Donnelly, Jessica Krause.
Sophomores - Rayni Bidleman, Payton Christy, RyAnn Dawson, Kylie Kuiper, Stephanie Luth, Taylor Maguire, Chloee Narber, Jozlynn Porter.
Freshmen - Payton Crouch, Alexandra Hayes.
(Start times are 3:30 p.m. unless noted)
April 16 - West Des Moines Dowling; 18 - at Ankeny, 9 a.m.; 22 - at Ames, 1 p.m.; 23 - at Marshalltown; 25 - Mason City; 30 - Ames.
May 7 - at Waukee; 9 - St. Edmond; 11 - at Storm Lake, 9 a.m.; 13 - host Dodger Invitational, 10 a.m.; 16 - at CIC meet (in Ankeny), 9 a.m.; 20 - at Class 4A regional tournament, TBA.
Rounding out the rest of the Dodger roster are juniors Bailey Donnelly and Jessica Krause, sophomores Rayni Bidleman, RyAnn Dawson, Stephanie Luth, Taylor Maguire, Chloee Narber and Jozlynn Porter and freshmen Payton Crouch and Alexandra Hayes.
"From the beginning to the end of last year, we made drastic improvement," Clark said. " It seems like this group has a lot of promise.
"I have very high hopes of winning some invitationals and duals, but we need to play smart golf."
Defending Class 4A state champion Waukee and Ankeny appear to be the two most talented opponents on Fort Dodge's schedule.
"Waukee is typically a very strong program, and Ankeny is also a perennial powerhouse that could be at the top of the leaderboard," said Clark. "That level of competition will only help make our girls better."
The Dodgers welcome West Des Moines Dowling in their opener on Tuesday. FDSH hosts its own invitational May 13, while the CIC meet is set for May 16 at Ankeny.