HIGH GRADES FOR THESE TROON-AFFILIATED UNIVERSITY COURSES
COLLEGE GOLFERS these days are more prepared, calm, and collected than ever before as they embark on professional careers. Witness the stellar win by Collin Morikawa (who graduated from Cal-Berkeley in 2019) at this year’s PGA Championship. His poise and confidence is partly natural talent, certainly, but it was a talent that was nurtured and developed at a strong college program.
When Finkbine Golf Course, the home turf of the University of Iowa’s golf teams, joined the Troon portfolio earlier this year, it became the seventh school-related facility to be managed by Troon®, Troon Privé®, and OB Sports®. “We have developed a model that positions us as a long-term solution to manage the day-to-day golf operations, while better enabling athletic departments to focus on the success of their students and athletes,” said Troon’s Global Development Officer Scott Van Newkirk. “We’re excited about our continued growth, especially as even more athletic departments realize that there is a more innovative approach to club management than the status quo.”
Here’s a look at where top college guns tee it up on (or near) a university campus.
The Course: Architect Tom Doak moved more than a million cubic yards of dirt while creating this highly regarded layout, ranked No. 4 on Golfweek’s 2019 Best Campus Courses. “It feels like a links course even though we’re not a pure links by the sea. We’re definitely playing more of an angle game here,” said Greg Sands, head men’s golf coach at Texas Tech. “In the springtime when we get some wind, there is more difficulty to the course. With our practice facilities being so close and convenient, it’s just a really efficient place for us to call home. The course finishes with back-to-back par 5s, which makes for some interesting twists and turns, especially with water in play on the approach to the 18th green.” Opened in 2003, the course was named for alum Jerry Rawls. The Red Raiders men’s golf team has made 18 straight postseason NCAA appearances while the women’s golf team has reached the NCAA Regional eight of the last nine years. www.TheRawlsCourse.com
The Course: Papago is the municipal course near Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport where Missy Farr-Kaye, women’s golf coach at ASU, first learned to play golf with her sister Heather. “Papago has always been known for being a great track,” she said. “Although the course has lost many of its iconic eucalyptus trees due to storms over the years, it has been wonderful to see Papago come back into its own again as a public jewel.” When the ASU golf teams were planning to move their home base to Papago in 2018, Farr-Kaye and men’s golf team coach Matt Thurmond helped create an extraordinary practice facility known as “The Bird.” It contains a study hall area, fitness room, lounge area, and golf lab with the latest technology. “Our Phil and Amy Mickelson Player Development Facility has six greens, 27 hitting targets, and wedge target greens,” said Farr-Kaye, whose team won the national championship in 2017. “The sky is the limit at our facility and we are very proud to call this home!” www.PapagoGolfCourse.net
The Course: Even though Springdale tips out at just 6,380 yards, Princeton University head men’s golf coach Will Green has seen many talented players come off the course wondering why their scores aren’t lower. “It’s not tricky, but the greens are small and undulating,” he said. “It places a premium on placement. It’s a testament to (course architect) William Flynn that you just can’t overpower it.” The real benefit to his team comes from the layout forcing plenty of work on the wedge game. “If you’re good from 100 yards and in, you will be good anywhere. It also tends to promote thinking your way around the course. A lot of courses built today are just go ahead and wail away, find your ball, and hit it at the flag. You can’t afford to do that at Springdale.” The Princeton men’s golf team has won 30 Ivy League championships, most recently in 2019, while the women’s team has six titles, the last in 2018. www.SpringdaleGC.org
The Courses: Opened in 1992, this 36-hole facility is located 20 minutes south of the Vanderbilt campus. Hall of Famer Tom Kite and course architect Bob Cupp designed The North and South Courses. “We play both of them pretty equally,” said Scott Limbaugh, head men’s golf coach at Vanderbilt since 2012. “The South Course is a little tougher. There are three par 5s on the back nine and you can get in a little more trouble off the tee than on the North Course (which hosted the 2012 NCAA Division I Women’s Golf National Championship). At our Mason Rudolph Championship, held each April, the South Course really holds it own with winning scores usually between even par and 6-under. We’ve had some of the best players in the country come through here,” added Limbaugh. “You’re just trying to get through the first 10 holes at or around even par, and then you can get it going on holes 11 through 18.” PGA Tour pro Brandt Snedeker was the school’s first All-America golfer in 2002. www.VanderbiltLegendsClub.com
The 2019-2020 Iowa Men’s Golf Team Wednesday, September 18, 2019 at the James M. Hoak Family Golf Complex.. (Brian Ray/hawkeyesports.com)
The Course: Named after W.O. Finkbine, who donated the land to The University of Iowa, this Robert Harris and Dick Nugent-designed course opened on the western edge of campus in 1955. “What you see is what you get on this pretty straightforward layout,” said Director of Golf Jeff Moore. “There really aren’t two holes alike, and only one hole has a water feature.” That comes on the downhill par 3 13th, where a carry over a lake is required to reach one of the two island greens that are rotated for use. Superintendent Tim Gravert, who came on board earlier this year, has enhanced course conditions considerably. The Iowa golf teams prepare for competition at the James M. Hoak Family Golf Complex overlooking the sixth hole. The brand new 19,000-square-foot Nagle Family Clubhouse opened this past April, with a restaurant, bar, and outdoor terrace. www.Finkbine.com
The Course: The Pascua Yaqui Tribe hired fellow Native American Notah Begay III and Ty Butler to design this course, located 15 miles west of campus. “It gives you a lot of different tee shots and approach shots,” said Gigi Stoll, a member of the 2018 University of Arizona women’s golf team that won the NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championship. “You can get in trouble off the tee, but if you’re smart and manage your tee shots well, you should have no problem getting around. People loved going there to play our PAC-12 matches.” The U of A men’s and women’s teams, which have called Sewailo home since 2013, share a practice facility just to the left of the 15th hole with three practice greens and a private driving range. “It allowed us to do our thing with no distractions,” said Stoll. The most unusual sight on the course may be the massive double green shared by the first and eighth holes. www.CasinoDelSol.com/sewailo-golf-club
The Course: Located 20 minutes north of Denver and 25 minutes east of Boulder, this 7,676-yard layout features elevation changes, water features, and views of Long’s Peak and Mount Meeker. “We feel very fortunate to have our relationship with Colorado National Golf Club,” said Anne Kelly, University of Colorado head women’s golf coach. “The staff out there is very supportive of our golf programs. The practice facility includes a big range and nice chipping and putting areas that get a lot of use by our team members.” The layout features big, multi-tier greens that are well guarded by bunkers. “The standout hole is 18,” said Kelly. “It is a long par 4 for our women’s team (we usually play it around 420 yards). The landing area for the drive requires a precise tee shot and the second shot is over water. There are several tough hole locations on the green, as well. If the wind is blowing in your face, it is really a challenging hole.” www.ColoradoNationalGolfClub.com