Fresh faces, new coach, state-of-art training technology make Pride golfers optimistic about the teams’ prospects this spring season


Brian Esquivel

The Pride golf team has a fresh outlook as it begins the spring season with a new coach and flock of young players.

There’s a lot new with PNW Men’s and Women’s – new coach, new players and new, higher expectations.

Former PNW golfer Jack Nietfeldt, who graduated in 2021, is interim head coach and is counting on his teams improving on past performances. 

So far, it has paid off during the first men’s team event of the spring season 

“We had two guys finish top 15 and [one player] finished tied for fifth,” said Nietfeldt. “We finished fifth overall as a team out of 15. It definitely showed instant results coming out and being able to compete at a high level because of the work they were able to put in over the winter.”

A few days later, the men finished fourth out of 21 at a tournament in Lexington, Kentucky. 

The women’s team has also seen some improvement. Last year’s spring campaign began with a last-place finish at the Saginaw Valley State University Spring Invitational tournament in Georgetown, Kentucky. This year the squad began its season with a 14th-place finish among the 17 teams at the same tournament.

Some of the credit for the performance improvement goes to the teams’ new state-of-the-art golf simulator. 

The simulator, deployed two months ago at the Lalaeff and Fischer Golf Training Center, helps athletes stay on top of their game year-round. Athletes can receive statistical data on any type of shot, playing on numerous courses. 

“It’s been very useful,” said Brody Pass, a freshman Finance major who is new to the team. “It gives you everything you need to know about your game. We always have a chance to practice, and in golf, you never can perfect the game.”

Nietfeldt is an advocate for this new wave of golf technology but wants to balance between indoor and outdoor practices. 

“I am 100% for it,” he said. “When we can go outside, we’ll go outside. You get to see the ball flight and how it’s reacting with the conditions outside. 

“But when it’s 30 degrees outside and snowing, it definitely helps to keep your swing going throughout the winter,” he said.

Nietfeldt is working with young teams. The women’s team features one graduate student and no seniors, while the men’s team brought in eight new freshmen. Both teams got off to relatively poor starts during the fall, finishing near the bottom of the leaderboard in numerous tournaments. 

The golf season is set up a bit differently than other sports. Teams begin tournaments in the fall, starting in September and ending nearly a month later. Then, the season goes on a four-month layoff and teams then devote their time to prepare for the spring season in March. 

This break in play may create a problem for schools and the development of their athletes. Thanks to the area’s historically harsh winters, it was difficult for previous PNW golf teams to practice at an outdoor setting during this time.

But the addition of new technology – and the teams’ chemistry – seems to be working for players. 

“I’ve loved playing for him,” said Pass. “He is really supportive; he is always there for you. Even if you are frustrated about something, he picks you right back up. If you’re cold and you under packed, he’s willing to give up his coat for you to stay warm. He will do anything for us to be successful.” 

Nietfeldt has plans to remove the “Interim” title from his name.

“That would be the plan going forward for me,” he said. “It comes down to making sure we’re all ready to compete.”