WSU braces for elevation change in New Mexico


Senior Zach Anderson tees of in the Itani Quality Homes Collegiate on Sept. 12.

After placing first in the Itani Quality Homes Collegiate at 10-under-par (842) last week, the WSU men’s golf team heads to Albuquerque, New Mexico, for the William H. Tucker Intercollegiate this weekend.

The tournament will be held at the Championship Golf Course and is hosted by the University of New Mexico.

Of the nine players on the WSU roster, five will travel as the members of the varsity team. The five heading to New Mexico are senior Nick Mandell, juniors Zach Anderson and Derek Bayley, sophomore AJ Armstrong and freshman Nicklaus Chiam.

After winning the individual title at the Itani with a three-round score of 210 (-3) and seeing how well the team did in the tournament, Mandell is excited and looking forward to this weekend.

“I definitely have more confidence going into a course I’ve never seen before after playing so well (last week) than I would maybe not play so well at a different tournament,” Mandell said.

WSU men’s golf Head Coach Dustin White expects the team to adjust quickly to the Championship Golf Course.

“I don’t think anyone on the team has seen it before so we’re going to have to adjust fairly quickly with only one practice round, but I would say that’s the biggest thing,” White said. “Nothing they haven’t done before.”

Another challenge the team might face is the elevation difference. The elevation in Pullman is around 2,500 feet, but in Albuquerque, the elevation is around 6,000 feet — more than 3,000 feet of change.

“When you get into higher elevations, the air is thinner, so the golf ball stays in the air longer,” White said. “The higher you go, the farther the golf ball is going to travel.”

From a player’s perspective, Mandell said it is a challenge adjusting his shot for that kind of altitude.

Mandell said that the shot is adjusted about 10 percent for every 2,000 feet in elevation. He admits it’s going to be challenging to adjust to the longer distance in Albuquerque since the distance the ball will travel will be about 20 percent more for the same drive at the elevation in Pullman.

The tournament will be the team’s second time playing this fall. White wants to fare well but doesn’t want last week’s win to distract the team from the current tournament.

“It’s not about going down there thinking, ‘just because we won last week we can win again this week,’” White said. “Obviously that’s the goal, but in the meantime, we just focus on learning the golf course, hitting one shot at a time, and seeing where that leaves you at the end of three rounds.”

The three-round tournament will play today and tomorrow. Live score updates will be posted on