A small, yellow ball leaves the clubface of a titanium driver with violent force shortly followed by a piercing ping. The ball enters the sky, as if it had been set free from gravity, until it begins falling into a large, open, manicured field joining many others like it.
That ball, and hundreds more like it, are a vital part of the TJC’s Women’s Golf Team practice.
“The difference between practice and just playing is in practice you are looking for results,” Xeniya Zheleznova of the TJC Women’s Golf Team, said.
The women’s golf team will officially begin practice in a few weeks, but Jan. 22 was a casual practice for them. The relaxed nature of the women is evident as they stop in between hitting range balls, to discuss their cars or what they did the night before. As soon as they resume hitting balls the practice aspect becomes evident.
For Alexis Byerly, golf practice is about being on a team.
“During practice, you are on a team working towards a common goal,” Byerly said.
The women have six tournaments this semester ending at the NJCAA National Tournament in Daytona Beach, Florida. Tournaments results are determined by adding each player’s points together to determine a final team score. This means each individual has to do well to advance the team.
Although this session is very relaxed, the team aspect is still evident as the women stop what they are doing to focus on fellow team member Jacqui Luhan who is asking for assistance with a particular swing.
After some small suggestions from her teammates, she gets the result she was looking for and the women go back to decorating the field with the range balls.
“To me, practice is about perfecting your swing,” Luhan said.
Watching each woman in action, it is evident each is concentrating on a particular part of their game.
Luhan and Byerly are smashing balls down the range like small projectiles, while Izzy Rosebury practices her accuracy with her irons.
“Depending on the person, you focus on your weakness,” Rosebury said. “To me, my short game is the most important.”
Golf requires practice just like any other sport. A basketball player would not begin a game without ever learning how to dribble.
A football player cannot step out onto the field without knowing a single play. This goes the same for golf.
“People think this is just a hobby and not a sport,” Luhan said.
With the average tournament play lasting four to five hours or even longer, the game requires physical endurance.
The use of a golf cart is prohibited, so the ladies have to be on their feet the entire time. There is also the intense concentration during every shot.
“Golf is 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical,” Luhan said.
After a few hours at the driving range, the women shoulder their clubs and follow a path leading to a small patch of flat grass with nine small blue flags sticking out the middle of nine holes.
Putting is more reserved, they scatter across the small area of grass and begin to glide the yellow orbs towards each individual flag.
Concentration covers each one of their faces like a mask as the yellow golf balls disappear into the nine holes in the green.
“You can’t focus on the tournaments during practice because you won’t know what the weather will do or the course conditions, all you can do is work on what your game needs,” Rosebury said.