It will be an entire year until the Nevada men’s golf team reconnects on the course.
Nevada was in the midst of a successful 2020 season when COVID-19 canceled its remaining six competitions in March—including the Mountain West Championships. The cancellation of all fall sports pushed its season back even further, and Nevada will have to wait until spring of 2021 to play again.
“I was gutted for my athletes,” Nevada men’s head golf coach Jacob Wilner said. “… Our season was basically canceled overnight last year, so we went into this process hopeful that we’re gonna be able to play. But the writing was on the wall for the last month or so that we knew what was going to happen.”
Despite the postponement, a sense of confidence remains that Wolf Pack members can play in the fall. Wilner said the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) will host a tournament in Reno in the fall to help Nevada golfers ease into the upcoming year.
“We’re going to do our best to keep us competitive,” Wilner said. “Events like these give us that opportunity and I couldn’t be more excited.”
Scheduled in-person practices and team-held events are still on hold, forcing Wolf Pack golfers to find other ways of training. Sophomore golfer Mitch Abbott is focused on improving his game under the new safety guidelines.
“It may take some time for me to adjust but I’m trying to avoid that,” he said. “I’m just trying to plan outside events to keep my game up in case anything happens. Preparing for the spring is all that matters now.”
If and when scheduled practices return to Nevada, Wilner is optimistic his team can be ready to play for the spring season. The NCAA granted a waiver for Nevada golfers to compete in the fall, and more events can be held in the future.
“We’re hoping to have some scheduled practices soon if we’re allowed to,” he said. “We’re just staying hopeful that we can have some structure and get together soon. If that happens, I expect us to be ready to play.”
Nevada retains several key pieces for the upcoming year. Senior golfer Sam Harned advanced to the Round of 32 in the U.S. Amateur Championship in August. In his shortened senior season, Harned was an All-Mountain West selection and tallied a team-best 75 birdies.
Along with Harned, junior golfer Trey Davis totaled 187 pars last season, which ranked second on the team. He finished in 11th at the Wolf Pack Shootout and collected two Top-25 finishes on the year.
COVID-19 has turned Nevada’s golf season upside down, but optimism remains for the Wolf Pack to compete and improve in the spring.
“My job is to remain positive and optimistic and communicate with the team and that’s what we’re doing,” Wilner said. “We have a great team this year and we’ll be ready to play when given the opportunity.”