One Kent State golf team is playing for the second time in as many weeks. The other team is playing for the first time in nearly a month.
But both teams seem excited to play and are preparing for the season’s stretch run.
The Kent State men’s golf team is playing at the Boilermaker Invitational at Kampen Golf Course at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. The women’s team is playing the Lady Buckeye Spring Invitational at The Scarlet Course in Columbus. Both tournaments are tomorrow and Sunday.
“We can’t wait to get out and start the stretch run,” women’s coach Mike Morrow said. ” … We’re well-rested, and we can’t wait to get going.”
The women’s team, ranked 15th in the country in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin performance index, is playing its first tournament since March 21-23.
Morrow said the Flashes had been “going about our normal routine” in the four weeks between tournaments.
“Some of the players, the areas where they’ve been really good at they’ve stayed in touch with that,” he said. “Other areas where they felt like they needed improvement, we’ve tried to stress (those) areas somewhat and just trying to get their games just a little bit better.”
The Flashes have placed in the top five of every tournament they played in this season, dating back to the fall. In their four tournaments played so far this spring, they have finished third twice, fourth once and fifth once.
So Morrow said he was comfortable with how the team looks heading into the season’s stretch run.
“They’ve had just an outstanding year,” he said. “In one poll, we’re 13th in the country, in the other one we’re 15th in the country. All of our tournaments so far we’ve either come in first, second, third, fourth or fifth. We’re always in the top five – I think that just shows you how we’re just consistently a very good team.”
The Flashes will face a major challenge this week in the form of the course they are playing on. The Scarlet Course is considered one of the more difficult golf courses in the country, but the Flashes do have experience playing it.
“We played there two years ago at the NCAA Championships … four of our six players have played the course,” Morrow said. “It’s a very good golf course, and the greens make it a difficult golf course. So you have to handle the greens.”
Meanwhile, the men’s team, which played on the Scarlet Course last weekend, will look for a third straight top-three finish at its tournament this weekend.
Despite weather conditions last weekend that made The Scarlet Course a difficult place to play, the men’s team finished in third place out of 14 teams with a score of 56-over-par.
This weekend’s tournament includes a strong field, including nationally ranked teams Charlotte (No. 4), Michigan State (No. 23) and Indiana (No. 24).
And this week’s course won’t exactly be easier to play. The Kampen Course was designed by Pete Dye, who men’s coach Herb Page referred to as a “diabolical golf course architect.”
“It is a Pete Dye golf course, and it is very, very difficult,” Page said. “It is a championship, top-shelf, very difficult golf course. This time of the year it’ll play exceptionally long because of the wetness. There’ll be no roll. It’s Ohio State Scarlet all over again. I would expect the scores will not be really, really low based on all three of those things.”
Page said he believes that college golfers play the “toughest set-up golf courses in America,” partly because no adjustments are made because of weather and other factors.
“I go around on the PGA Tour, and some of our (former) players are on the Nationwide Tour,” he said. “Not that those golf courses aren’t tough, but they do make some adjustments to weather.
“Now, that said, the harder the better for Kent State. It’s the same for everybody. It’s not an excuse, it’s just a comment. And what that does – it just makes the scores higher. The average score at Ohio State was 78. That’s pretty bad. These young men are a lot better than that.”
The Flashes played at Kampen Course in early September and finished third out of 16 teams, gaining experience Page said would help this weekend. Because the NCAA Championships will be played at the course May 28-31, Page believes further experience with it is necessary.
“Our goal is to get to the finals,” Page said. “And if and when we get to the finals, we’ll have seen this golf course a couple times. So that’s the method to our madness. … It’s a great opportunity. It’s a really good tournament standalone on its own, but also it’s our hope that we’re back there.”
Contact sports reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected]