Never before had I voluntarily woken up at 5:45 a.m. to do anything until I decided to help out at the Division 1 East Regional Golf Tournament at the Golf Course at Yale this week. The mornings were rough, but it was definitely worth it to see some of the upcoming PGA tour stars on display. Not to mention the fact that all volunteers get to play the course sometime in the near future. Let me take you through some of the highlights of the three day event in New Haven this week.
DAY 1: I arrived at the course at 7 a.m. not really knowing what to expect. I was told I was going to be a scorecard runner but ended up operating the scoreboard by the first hole and the practice greens. As I was setting up shop all the players were practicing putting before their tee times. It was cool to see all the different get ups that players had. Eastern Tennessee State had some sweet pink shirts, UNC-Wilmington rocked some awesome black and white plaid pants, Vanderbilt players all had sick visors, and UVA payed their respects to Yeardley Love with a black patch on their hats. UVA also pulled up in one of the sweetest vans I have ever seen, a euro-looking Mercedes van with golf lockers in the back and a huge Virginia logo on the sides. That's riding in style. At the end of day 1, Texas was atop the leaderboard at -6. The other teams that competed for the right to advance to the finals (top four teams advance) were Kent State, UCLA, Eastern Tennessee State, Southeastern Louisiana University, UVA, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Columbia, Lafayette, UNC-Wilmington, Penn State, UNC-Charlotte, Liberty and Alabama.
DAY 2: On the second day of the tournament, I was assigned to collect the scores from the players as they finished up the 17th hole. This was by far my favorite assignment. I got to see some great golf shots on a tough hole and then interact with the players a little bit afterwards. I razzed a Lafayette player for his 8 and congratulated a South Carolina guy for his chip in birdie, one of the few birdies of the day on 17. In general, the southern players were a lot more polite and thanked me for helping out. The Lafayette players were by far the worst mannered. After collecting the players scores, I would radio them back into the scoring center in the clubhouse. The chick that worked there was smoking hot.
DAY 3: On the final day I was given the menial task of re-stocking the coolers on the tenth hole and the driving range. Pretty lame, but I was done by 11 a.m. so I wasn't too upset. I got to see a little bit more of the course too which was cool. The Course at Yale was voted the #1 college course in the nation and I can definitely see why. The extreme undulation, difficult greens and extreme length (18th hole is a 621 yard par 5, I expect to score in the double digits on that one) make it a challenge for even the best golfers out there. In case you don't believe me, let me just tell you that Lafayette shot +60 over the three day tournament. When all was said and done, Texas and Kent State tied at -5, and UCLA, Penn St. and UVA all moved onto the final as well with scores of -4, -3, and +3 respectively.
It was great to see how golf is supposed to be played, and there are definitely some dudes I would keep my eye on to potentially make the PGA Tour in the future. Rhys Enoch of ETSU shot 7 under during the 3 day tournament, Texas Longhorn Cody Gribble tied the course record with a 64 on Thursday; and his teammate Dylan Frittelli was one of the few to birdie 17 on the day I kept score. TJ Howe and Kevin Foley led a solid Penn State team, and Kevin Miller was huge in Kent State advancing to the finals. If you ever get the chance to watch a golf tournament with very skilled players in it, I recommend that you do so. It is really a treat to see the game played at such a high level. These players would put the Donk's golf game to shame.