High school golfers beat the heat with night practice at the Whisper Lake course
Some of the local high school golf teams got the chance to beat the heat by practicing at night thanks to a kind gesture from Randy Watkins who owns their courses.
Watkins said that although he does not coach any of the teams in the area, he does teach some local high school children, and his golf courses are host to several high schools. The Randy Watkins Golf Club hosts Madison Central girls, Germantown boys and girls, and St. Andrews boys.
One side effect of the heat in recent weeks is that golf teams are not allowed to practice outside. The MHSAA — the state’s Public High School Activities Association — has a rule that once the temperature reaches a certain number using a combination of temperature, humidity, and dew point, outdoor sports are no longer allowed.
“As the host of these schools, I would see these kids sitting in the clubhouse hoping the temperature would drop because they weren’t allowed to go out and practice,” Watkins said.
Watkins has thought of his own course at Whisper Lake in Madison which he just opened in November. It is a six-hole course set on eight or nine acres.
“I thought maybe I could light that space up and let them practice at night when the temperature drops below the limit,” Watkins said. “So I called the coaches and asked them if they would be interested in participating if I did it and funded it and rented the lights and set it up and let them practice from seven to nine at night for two nights. They were happy to do it.”
So, on August 7 and 8, the athletes had the opportunity to go to the course at night and the Madison Central and Germantown teams participated.
“They had a ball,” Watkins said. “It was very hot out there, and golf is one of those sports that there’s no way you can get in or turn on some lights while you’re training. I just decided to try doing it for high school kids and see if it helps and it has.
Watkins said it was a really fun and unique experience that was new to him.
“I’ve been in the golf business for 38 years, and this was the first time I had a facility that could be lit and it worked great,” Watkins said. “We will do it again.”
Watkins said he plans to do it again maybe before September is out or even in October when he can move it to earlier hours.
“You can do it from six to eight or from five to seven once the time changes and you get more practice than you normally can when it’s dark,” Watkins said. “It just so happens that we have the ability to do that because you can’t light up the entire golf course. Now, I know I can do that, and that there’s some value in that for kids. All that walking. There’s no golf carts involved. It’s fenced and gated. It’s really beautiful.” Now we know, and we will definitely do it again.”