Both the University of Victoria Vikes men’s and women’s golf teams will travel south this coming week where they will take part in the Battle at Primm, a two-day tournament that will pit some of the top teams in the NAIA against each other in Primm, Nevada from March 19-20.
“Six or seven of the top 10 in the NAIA on the men’s side will be at the tournament,” said Vikes head coach Justin Clews. “Next to nationals, this is the strongest field of the season for both the men’s and women’s teams.”
This will be the penultimate tournament of the regular season for the Vikes, as they begin to set their sights on the A.I.I regional championship that will take place in late April in Victoria, Texas.
The Vikes women enter the weekend ranked No. 19 in the NAIA according to the latest coaches’ poll and come into the tournament with momentum on their side. In their most recent action they captured the Capital City Match Play title thanks to a tournament-clinching putt from third-year Vike Nicole Gargarella.
“Despite the smaller field at the Match Play event, any win is a confidence booster, when you get that trophy it bodes well for individual and team confidence,” said Clews. “The team should feed off that but they need to dial in their short game a bit. They are all hitting the ball great but if you want to score well, you need to be pretty precise around the greens.”
For the Vikes men it has been over a month since they were last in a competitive tournament. Lawren Rowe and Josh Miller both finished in the top-10 as the Vikes earned a third-place finish at the Arizona Christian University Invitational in the middle of February. The team tied for 11th in the latest coaches’ poll.
“What the men really need to focus on this week is the short game, specifically putting,” said Clews. “They struggled a little bit in Phoenix adapting to the fast greens, they dealt with fast greens a little bit in the training camp but prior to Phoenix they were practicing on the greens here which were slow and wet. As long as can adapt to the firmer course I think we are going to play well.”
About the Course
Lawren Rowe claimed the individual title in Primm last season, leading the way to an eighth-place finish for the men as a team. Gargarella was the top Vikes women as they posted consistent rounds and finished sixth.
No team can use their knowledge of the course to their advantage this year however, for the first time since the Vikes have been attending the tournament, the men will play on the Lake Course while the women are on the Desert Course.
“In previous years the men have always played the desert and the women have played on the lakes. That will change the dynamics of the tournament because no team will have the edge of knowing the course from years previous,” said Clews. “The Lakes Course is shorter and tighter off the tee, while the Desert Course is longer and more open, it should be a good chance to mix things up.”