The 2016-17 season is on the line next week when the men’s and women’s golf teams travel to Chesterton, Indiana, to compete at the A.I.I. Regional Championships.
Both teams have a chance to clinch a spot at nationals by winning their respective tournament, or by performing well enough to earn a coveted at-large berth.
The men enter the week ranked 18th in the NAIA while the women are ranked 20th.
About the Event
The A.I.I. tournament is one of many regional championships held throughout the spring in the NAIA and helps determine what teams will travel to TPC Deere Run in Illinois for nationals in mid-May.
Last year, the Vikes men were unable to clinch with a win at the tournament, finishing in second behind UBC. The Thunderbirds were dominant, combining to go 19-under-par and win by a 33-stroke margin.
The women also finished in second behind UBC, missing out on top spot by 28 strokes. The Thunderbirds and the Vikes are the two powerhouses at the event as they take on the other independent institutions scattered throughout the U.S.
Scouting the Course
The tournament will be held at The Brassie Golf Course in Chesterton, the same course that hosted last year’s event.
The course, which opened in 1998, is a semi-private, 18-hole championship facility that features gently rolling terrain, strategic bunkering, wide fairways and tall fescue rough areas with few trees.
“We played this course last year but it was pouring rain all three days,” said head coach Justin Clews. “From what I’ve seen and heard the course is relatively open. It’s a links style course—not a lot of trees, pretty wide fairways. Longer fescue if you hit it offline but it’s score-able.”
Justin Clews, head coach
On the importance of the event:
“To say that this event is important to determine if we go to nationals is an understatement. We’re going into the event with the intent to win because if we win conference we’re in nationals automatically. That’s our ultimate goal.”
On preparing for the event:
“It all comes down to being really detailed in our practice runs. When we get there I’m going to be very strict on our practice runs on taking notes about the course and kind of incorporating that into their pre-shot routines. ”
On the men’s team:
“I know for a fact that our guys are still a little sour about last year and getting lapped like that. Beating UBC at the Vikes Golf Shootout last October was a really good confidence booster for our guys so they know any given day that they can beat them but two guys or one guy on our team can’t carry us.”
On the women’s team:
“We have two or three girls who have played consistently well this year for the most part. We’ll be looking at players like Quinn and Rhiannon [to make key contributions]. They’re two pretty key components to our success next week.”