Who said the big schools have all the resources?
Sure, the Oklahoma State and UNLV men’s programs have avoided the commercial airlines now and then, and certainly there have been others that have experienced that luxury. But Middle Tennessee? The Blue Raiders?
Shortly after the final round of the Golfweek Conference Challenge, Whit Turnbow’s squad was taking its time leaving Spirit Hollow Golf Course because, like some of the big boys in college golf, it, too, has the luxury of having its own plane waiting for the team. This week, the plane was nearby, at Southeast Iowa Regional Airport.
Middle Tennessee uses a King Air 250 for several trips each year.
“We go about an hour and a half on it,” said Turnbow, whose young squad placed ninth in the 15-team field at Spirit Hollow. “Once you go past that, it is not as cost-effective as commercial airlines would be.”
The King Air 250 was purchased about five years ago for nearly $1 million and is owned by the school. The school, in fact, has a fleet of planes.
“We have a big aerospace program,” Turnbow said. “It’s one of the biggest majors at Middle Tennessee.”
The plane holds only nine people and can accommodate the size of a college golf team perfectly – five players, the head and assistant coaches, and, of course, the pilot, Terry Dorris, who happens to be the lead flight instructor at Middle Tennessee.
“When I call a month, a week or even a day’s notice, he is ready to go,” Turnbow said.
The Blue Raiders did leave Spirit Hollow just a bit earlier than they had planned, due to some thunderstorms approaching the area, but on the way out, Turnbow said: “We can just kind of lazy over there and be home by 5 o’clock tonight, while all of the other teams are still scrambling to the airport and we will get the guys to study hall tonight.”