For high school golf coaches in the Northland, there are two traits that have become invaluable, maybe more so than skills and knowledge of the game.
With all the different weather that strikes this part of the state at this time of year, veteran coaches have learned to be creative with their indoor practices, adding activities such as yoga to the drills and fundamentals they do day in and day out.
Coaches must also be flexible, and they ask the same of their golfers.
"You just have to be flexible," Hermantown boys and girls golf coach Ted Perala said, and he's not talking about being able to touch your toes. "When I set up my schedule every week, it's usually Sunday evening and I'm looking at the weather forecast to determine what the weather would be. When I post it for the kids, I tell the kids to be prepared. It can change daily."
The creativity, flexibility and dedication of everyone involved in high school golf has been put to the test this spring, which has more often resembled winter with snow striking the state late into April.
Perala's Hawks spent the first four weeks of their season practicing in a gym before Grand View Golf Links opened up for the high school team, providing them mats to hit off. Then the snow returned and the course temporarily closed.
Ross Fremont, coach of the girls golf team at Duluth Marshall, said as of Thursday his team had only practiced outside once this year.
Duluth East, which is coached by the sister-brother duo of Kaitlin and Tyler Zenner, has found better luck by offering a morning practice before school at Northland Country Club and two practice times in the afternoon and evening at Lester Park Golf Course.
Kaitlin Zenner said the weather hasn't always been ideal, but she's found herself with a team this season that would rather hit outside in the elements than spend more time in a gym.
"I'm never going to cancel practice," Kaitlin Zenner said. "If they want to show up, I'll be there."
After playing in six meets at this time a year ago, Kaitlin Zenner said the Greyhounds girls team has only played in two thus far.
The Hilltoppers girls are finally scheduled to play their first two meets of the season this week, weather permitting.
The Hawks boys have had the best luck, playing three meets, though one of those was in Faribault. The girls have played two.
While a bit unique, the weather they're all enduring is nothing new, coaches said.
"We have springs like this on average every other year where we are getting a late start on the playing season," Perala said. "This is probably one of our latest seasons to get outside to practice. The only other one I remember being really late was 2013. We first hit a course on May 3 and that was on the Iowa border. We played in 37 degrees and rain."
Perala said he typically doesn't take his teams further south than Forest Lake due to logistics. Then there are the academic issues long trips like that present.
No matter the weather, golf coaches say they are constantly trying to juggle around their golfers' academic schedules, which happen to get crammed in late May. That also happens to be the time of year golf meets get crammed into, whether the season starts on time or not.
Fremont said it is unfortunate the high school golf season has to be jammed into such a short window of May and early June, when the fall would be a much better option.
"Ultimately I'd like to see it be a fall sport so we can start practicing in the beginning of August, play all the meets in August and have the state tournament in September or early October," Fremont said. "That way kids aren't missing the end of school. They are missing the beginning of school, though a majority of the meets would be done beforehand, plus they played golf all summer so teams are going to be that much more competitive."