The Vanderbilt Men’s Golf Team was in 4th after the first round at the Valspar Collegiate Invitational. They were led by Harrison Ott and Will Gordon with 70 and 71, respectively (you can find live scoring here).
It’s not the PGATOUR tournament in Palm Harbor that goes by the same sponsor. It’s the Valspar Collegiate at the Floridian Golf Club in Jupiter.
This year’s tournament features 9 Top25 ranked teams. Participating teams in this year’s event are (in order of rank): 1 Oklahoma State, 2 Duke, 3 Vanderbilt, 6 Wake Forest, 8 Texas, 9 Georgia Tech, 11 LSU, 13 Auburn, 20 South Florida, and 23 Baylor. Teams ranked outside the Top25 are 27 Texas A&M, 30 Florida State, 31 South Carolina, 35 Arkansas, and unranked Houston.
It also features 10 of the top 40 individual players in the NCAA. They are Matthew Wolf (No. 1), Viktor Hovland (No. 4), Cole Hammer 11, Eric Bae 13, Luke Schniederjans 16, 28 Zach Bauchou, 29 John Pak, 30 Austin Eckroat, 31 Scott Stevens, 36 Kengo Aoshima, 40 Philip Barbaree.
The Floridian was originally owned by Wayne Huizenga, the founder of Blockbuster video. In 2010, it was sold and then remolded by Tom Fazio. It’s now a premier course in Florida, playing along the St. Lucie River.
It’s a par 71, 7,114 yard course with “perfectly manicured rolling fairways and greens, demanding hazards, breathtaking views of the St. Lucie River, and is surrounded by natural preserve and native wildlife.”
Fazio is known for moving a lot of earth around and creating landscapes that aren’t necessarily commiserate with the natural surroundings. But at the Floridian, Fazio contoured the land to play like a Florida course would. It has rolling hills, few trees, and a lot of sand.
The conditioning is superb, also a Faz staple. He prides himself in creating courses that are immaculately maintained, and it shows here. The fairways and greens are lush but can play firm and fast, too.
The most important element of the Floridian is the wind. As stated, it borders the St. Lucie River with no trees to block the wind. Some may be tempted to say it is a links style course. That would irk many traditionalists because links style courses have specific requirements about location and routing. But for Florida, North America even, The Floridian is a links style course, especially when the course plays firm.
The best example of this is the 18th hole. When the Faz redesigned the course, he built a seawall to prevent erosion, and it allowed the 18th to be moved closed to the river. The design has drawn comparisons to the 18th at Pebble. No, not direct 1:1 comparisons, but in the idea of having a hole close to the coast with little room for error and a whole lot wind.
Recently, I talked with a member at my club who played the course two weeks ago. He said the wind can make a ten shot difference. He also said the course is very playable. He was paired with a 21 handicap player who on the par 3 8th (only 152 yards), thinned his tee shot skipping it across the water to the back of the green. He heeled the chip shot, banked it off a sprinkler head and it rolled to a kick in par.
Sounds like the course is able to be scored on, even for the very average amateur, let alone elite collegiate golfers.
The tournament concludes Tuesday, March 19.