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Golf After Dark: Crooked Stick Invite

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Crooked Stick Invite

U.S. Amateur Championship Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The No. 5 ranked Men’s Golf Team is weaving it’s way through the fall schedule to the Crooked Stick Invitational, October 14-15. [Add scores and link] The Invitationals is a 54 hole stroke play tournament with 36 played on Monday and 18 played today.

The Dores finished second at +4 as a team, led by John Augenstein who shot -4 for a sole third place finish. Auggie went 67, 73, 72 in successive rounds. He’s coming off an incredible run through the summer that started at SEC Championships where he placed T-9, and then T-9 again at NCAA Regionals. At the Finals he placed T-19 in stroke play and won both of his matches before the team was eliminated in the semifinals.

Augenstein then ran roughshod through the US Am, finishing runner up after leading the final 36 hole match for 29 holes. Finally, he was invited to the Walker Cup where he one both of his singles matches en route to a US victory.

Reid Davenport placed 7th with a score of level par. He shot 68, 72, 76 for his three rounds. Davenport is a sophomore out of Texas. Last year, his best score was 69 and his best finish was 22nd.

They accomplished all this after cold weather including frost delays. Today, the temps bounced back into the 60’s but there are gusts up to 25 MPH making conditions difficult.

Crooked Stick Golf Club is a famous Pete and Alice Dye course in Carmel Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis. It has been the home to multiple major championships, the 1991 PGA Championship and the 1993 US Women’s Open. It also hosted the PGATOUR’s BMW Championship in 2012 & 2016.

That’s significant because the ‘12 BMW was won by Rory McIlroy at -20 and the ‘16 by Dustin Johnson at -23. Those are absurd numbers to win tournaments by. Meanwhile, the leaders at the Crooked Stick Invitational are -8 after two rounds.

The course is a behemoth that yields to the long ball of the tee. It’s 7,500 yards from the tips with only one par-4 under 400 yards and one par-3 under 200 yards. Meanwhile, the fifth hole, a par-5 is 621 yards.

Built in 1964, clearly Crooked Stick was designed to challenge players with contemporary equipment, but now with rocket launchers for drivers and unregulated fairway woods, plus low spin high compression golf balls, length isn’t a challenge for the modern player. Especially players who have access to not only the best equipment, but best physiological science maximize their fitness, and in turn their ball striking. Add launch monitors and immediate feedback, a course like Crooked Stick is still very difficult for average golfers, but for the elite amateur and the professional, it is not the challenge it was designed to be.

However, with the weather this weekend, no team finished below par. Tyler Leach of Texas Tech won with a winning score of -6 for three rounds of play. The scoring averages for each round were 75.31, 74.91, and 76.53.

Despite losing Will Gordon, the 2019 SEC Player of the Year, and leader for the Vanderbilt squad, this team is coming into its own. John Augenstein is leader of the pack but Sophomore Reid Davenport and Junior Harrison Ott round out the top three players. William Moll, a freshman, is the four seed for the team.

It’s impressive work what Head Coach Scott Limbaugh has put together and how he continually finds and develops talent even after losing elite golfers to the professional tours.

For what it’s worth, I have reached out to Vanderbilt’s Golf Program for quotes, but email requests were not initially returned, then not followed up on.