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Tom Mix, Published April 15 2013

Winter weather has forced area high school golf teams to find indoors practice facilities

FARGO – Fargo North golfer Hunter Halvorson measured up his drive and took a swing on Monday.

This is Halvorson’s normal routine this time of year, but the ball he struck didn’t land on a freshly cut fairway, but rather traveled all of 60 yards before hitting the blue Teflon at the Sports Bubble in Fargo.

That has been the reality Halvorson and other golfers have had to deal with this spring. Late-winter storms like the one that dumped 6.3 inches of fresh snow in Fargo the last two days have delayed the start of the golf season for area high school teams.

While the region thaws out, the popular sanctuary for golfers looking to get some drives in has been the Sports Bubble.

“It’s nice to be able to practice here,” said Halvorson, who is a junior. “It is nice to feel how you are hitting it, but you just can’t see the outcome. We can see what we are doing wrong before the season gets going and get everything figured out.

Six area high school teams booked time at the Sports Bubble on Monday and manager Jay Haug said the facility has seen a lot of traffic the last few weeks.

“I have been working here for seven years now and I can’t ever remember a year like this one,” Haug said. “It’s been busy especially with teams from Crookston, Minn., Perham, Minn., and Detroit Lakes, Minn., coming into town.

“The high school teams don’t have anywhere to go,” Haug added. “We have been rotating them in by the hour.”

The Sports Bubble features a two-level driving range for golf and has a total of 33 individual tee spots (18 on the lower level and 15 on the upper level). The facility also has two virtual golf simulators.

Haug said he has accommodated the high school golfers by setting aside the upper level from 4-8 p.m. most evenings.

The indoor practices come at a price, though. Haug said he has given the high school teams a discounted rate of $12 an hour for one shared spot meaning two golfers per spot at $6 each. The normal rate for a shared spot is $16.

Wahpeton (N.D.) boys head coach Jeff Ralph has booked his team an hour twice so far this season and plans on coming up several more times in the next two weeks.

North has conducted four practices at the Sports Bubble already this spring.

“I don’t know what we would do without the bubble,” North boys head coach Ray Callaghan said. “We would be hitting into nets somewhere, but when we are here you can actually follow the flight of the ball a little bit. It is nice to have this facility in town.”

Starting seasons late is nothing new for Fargo Davies boys coach Steve Kennedy, who has coached for 23 years in Fargo, but this spring has been taxing.

“I can’t ever remember a year when we didn’t get out on a course later than April 15,” Kennedy said.

Detroit Lakes girls head coach Cali Harrier’s squad made the hour-long commute from Detroit Lakes for an hour of practice on Monday.

“We are very fortunate to have a facility like this,” Harrier said. “It has been great. I already talked to the girls on the trip here and said that we’ll try to get some time on Wednesday and book another session for next week too because as of now it doesn’t look like the courses will be open.”

The Lakers are defending Minnesota Class 2A champions and Harrier said her players are anxious to get on a course, which may happen this weekend with the team set to play in Jordan, Minn.

So far, Detroit Lakes has had three meets canceled and one meet rescheduled.

Today’s Eastern Dakota Conference boys golf opening meet at Village Green golf course in Moorhead has been postponed along with the April 22nd meet at Kings Walk golf course in Grand Forks. Callaghan expects the first local golf meet to be on April 30 at Rose Creek in Fargo.

“It is frustrating to see the snow on the ground,” Halvorson said. “It would be really nice to get on a course soon.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562