Red Storm golfers take early swings

SARANAC LAKE – With winter keeping its snowy grip on the North Country, Saranac Lake’s golfers are doing the best they can as they prepare for the upcoming season.

The Red Storm, who are the two-time defending champions of Section VII, started their preseason practices on March 10. And because the Tri-Lakes region is still buried in snow, the team has been doing everything indoors, which hasn’t been the case during the past few springs.

“This is the longest we’ve ever been inside that I can remember,” said Chris Stevens, who is entering his third season as the team’s head coach after working for a number of years as assistant to Jim Hayden. “We’re excited to start the season; we’re always excited. Every year, we just want to do the best we can.”

Saranac Lake’s spring sports teams will have one more week of practice before a two-week vacation. When the students return from break, the Red Storm golfers will be right into their hectic schedule that has the team slated to play 10 matches in 22 days. And after that, it’s right into the sectional championships.

The golf team has limited space for indoor practice. An activities room off the high school’s weight room serves as the driving range. It has three stations with nets, one for teeing off with a driver, another for medium range irons and another for chipping irons. With two holes drilled into concrete, the carpeted floor is also used for a putting surface.

Stevens said that so far, much of practice has focused on videotaping swings and familiarizing players with the rules of golf. With 17 students on the roster, Stevens, as well as assistant coach Hayden, have been running practice in shifts due to the limited space.

“When the weather cooperates, we’ll be ready to go,” Stevens said. “The nice thing is about three quarters of our kids will be going away for vacation, and I know the ones who are going someplace warm will be bringing their golf clubs. If somehow the rest of us can get out to (the Saranac Lake Golf Club) Ray Brook, we’ll do that during vacation.”

The Red Storm golfers are slated to start the Champlain Valley Athletic Conference season Monday, April 28, which is the same day they return from spring vacation.