ESCANABA - There are many ways to categorize golfers.
On a cold windy, rainy day, there are golfers who would rather sit on the couch and watch golf on ESPN than play in those unfavorable conditions. Then there are the Escanaba Eskymos.
There are many ways to categorize golfers, but second-year coach Brian Robinette used this one to define his team.
"We feel playing in bad weather is one of the biggest advantages for us coming off a U.P. title. We embrace bad weather because we have the knowledge on how to handle it," he said.
There has been no surplus of nice days in the month of April, yet the Eskymos have not relented to the elements and have made their home on the green.
"I can't kick them off the golf course. If they have time, they're out there trying to improve," said Robinette.
April 23 - at Gladstone Invitational; April 30 - at Gladstone Quad.
May 1 - at Marinette, Wis.; May 3 - Escanaba Quad; May 8 - at Neguanee Kiwanis Invitational; May 10 - NMB&T Escanaba Invitational; May 14 - at Menominee Golf Invitational; May 15 - at Negaunee Range Invitational; May 18 - at Munising Invitational; May 24 - GNC's at Menominee; May 31 - U.P. Golf Finals at Negaunee.
The Eskymos are young this year and like most teams, are top heavy. However, depth at the 4-5 spots could prove to be an advantage as they prepare to open the season Monday.
"You always expect your top three to play well, but having the right depth is key. Your most important players are your 4-5 guys. You need them to be consistent and I think we'll have that with our boys group," said Robinette.
Leading the returnees for the boys is reigning Division I champion Kevin Gendron. The unshakable senior has a scholarship to play golf at Northern Michigan University and will try to lead his team to a Great Northern Conference title repeat.
"Kevin is our leader, and he leads by example. Everyone looks around and sees his accolades. In a way, he does my dirty work in that kids aspire to play like him," said Robinette. "The attitude he takes when asked to do something, he does it. It's how it works and it's no secret. There are no shortcuts."
Rounding out the Eskymos top five are junior Jack Pouliot and sophomore Dane Casperson at the two and three spot. Sophomores Nick Laviolette and Nick Lemire tentatively hold the four and five slots.
Tentatively, because Robinette wants season long competition for playing time in tournaments.
"Neither Laviolette or Lemire played last year, but they got stronger, bigger and have more golf under their belts," said Robinette.
"In a lot of ways though, I feel we're a stronger team than last year because of our depth. We have good internal competition and a lot can happen in a month's time. You'll see this team shuffling some as time goes by."
Players that could challenge to be on the travel team are Austin Neveau, Jared Bizeau, Phil LaMarch and Derek Chaillier.
"They're all deep kids that can shoot scores that will work at the varsity level," said Robinette.
"What I look for is kids that can keep a level head, keep their cool. None of us hit well all the time. It's understanding the power of making bogeys and learning from mistakes and the kids do that."
Hard work will need to be a staple on a team where Robinette says no spot is permanently secure.
"I don't want kids to feel their spots are secure. It's a mental discipline. We look at the scorecards and ask kids to think it over. We know they'll make mistakes, but do they learn from it? You might get a double-bogey but it takes a good mental decision to recover from that," said Robinette. "80 is par, that's our model and it's turned in a lot of wins for us. It puts pressure on kids to make pars on every hole, but it's a calming influence to know that you can make some mistakes."
With the introduction of Manistique into Division I, Robinette said the Emeralds may be a team to look out for.
"We're anticipating Manistique will be good with (University of Tennessee recruit) Mike Nagy playing and shooting the scores that he does. Gladstone as well. They have kids that play all summer at Gladstone Golf Club and they're pretty good as a result of playing out there.
The Eskymos play at the Gladstone Invitational Monday before hosting their first medal play tournament in the Gladstone Quad April 30.