May 10, 2014
After a successful weekend at Disney, we were looking forward to our next test of the season: NCAA Regionals. Only a day after returning from Florida, the selection show gave us our next location – Oklahoma! The next week was spent training for the high winds and the difficult course we were set to play.
Wednesday finally arrived and was one of the longest days in collegiate golf that I had encountered. Our day began with a 6:30 a.m. flight out of Albany, getting us to Oklahoma City by 11:00 a.m. central time. We still had another hour of driving until we reached Stillwater, Oklahoma, home to Oklahoma State University and Karsten Creek Golf Club, the course where we would spend the week. We made it just in time for our 1:20 p.m. practice round and finally saw the long anticipated view of the first hole at Karsten Creek.
Placed in a rural area about 15 minutes from OSU campus, Karsten Creek is the top collegiate course in the country, hosting two other NCAA Championship events in 2003 and 2011. It was by far one of the most beautiful golf courses I have ever seen. The course challenges players in all aspects of their game and penalizes severely if any piece is sub-par (excuse the golf pun). Despite the challenge, the course is extremely fair and will reward players who can mentality overcome the obstacles it presents.
The course features dramatic elevation changes and thick foliage that are not common for this region of the country. Small streams run along some of the holes, providing a scenic backdrop to the player. With so many picturesque features, it’s hard not to love this course (unless you find yourself in the weeds all day). The 11th hole was my favorite view: the par three features a small stream in front of the tee box that runs along the left side of the green with large clay rocks along the hill to the right of the green. The hole sits in a swale between two hills, with trees overhanging on each side, giving the player one of the most beautiful views of the course from the tee. My word of warning to any newcomers: be sure to watch out for the snakes! I saw two large snakes slithering along cart paths during my first two rounds and they are known to be poisonous.
During the first two rounds, we played with Wichita State and LIU-Brooklyn, the latter a team we have played countless times in the northeast. Some of the top golf programs in the country were also selected to the central regional, including Alabama, California, UCLA and of course OSU, the home team. After most of the team having experienced playing in NCAAs before, we were ready for the challenge.
Despite the turbulent first two rounds, Karsten Creek was the ideal location to finish off this season. We have played at some of the greatest courses in the world this year, starting with Scotland in August, Pinehurst in March, and now finishing in Oklahoma in May. After having had the most exciting senior season that I could ask for, I can certainly say that this year will be one that I will never forget.