GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. -- When you play collegiate golf for the University of Minnesota, you get used to the jokes.
"My friends back home find it a little strange that I came all the way up north so," says Gopher senior Erik Van Rooyen.
"You're from Minnesota," jokes sophomore Anna Laorr. "Do you even have enough golf courses up here?"
Yes there are. Except for a large portion of the Gopher men's and women's golf season they are covered in snow. So they rely on indoor facilities, like the Chip and Putt in Golden Valley, which allows them to work on the most important part of the game, the fundamentals.
"Everybody can practice here; we can get longer putts in," says Gopher women's coach Michele Redmon. "So, this has made it a lot easier transition when we leave here and go to tournaments".
Tournaments that are often in much warmer climates with teams that play in those climates year round, something that could be an advantage, but only if the Gophers let it.
'If we get the right kids playing in here for our program," says Gopher men's coach John Carlson. "They're going to go down with a little chip on their shoulder that we can win in the north".
Though winning has come tough, competing has not. The Gopher men are ranked 117th in the nation and the women are ranked 67th in the latest Golf week magazine poll. Though the team doesn't have much down time with all of the tournaments they travel to, having a solid indoor facility helps them keep up.
"It's huge for our program, everybody has a facility like this on their campus and that's going to be really big for us in the future" says Redmon.
And currently as we're staring down yet another snow storm, their greatest thrill is leaving this facility and flying to places where golf is played outside -
"I haven't been this excited to travel in a long time. Get out of the snow and get some sunshine," says Van Rooyen.
But still taking with them that "roll with it" attitude it takes to be a Gopher Golfer as Anna Loarr demonstrates.
"Who needs the sun? Not us."
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