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Wildman’s Walk: Sights from Round 1 in Texas

BRYAN, Texas – This week, Wildman’s Corner will be known as Wildman’s Walk. One of my favorite things to do at tournaments is to do an 18-hole loop of the course. The Traditions Club is 6,250 yards, but this was the longest 6,250-yard walk of my life.

Here are Round 1 observations on Wildman’s Walk:

The men’s and women’s golf teams of Texas A&M have an excellent golf course and practice facility, and I can understand why both programs are doing so well. That said, I am attending the NCAA Championship, and as a host course, it reminds me of LPGA International. The layout of the course makes it very difficult to create areas for golf fans to view multiple holes. Last year, at The Landfall, there were more spectators than I have ever seen at a NCAA Women’s Championship; the local community was very supportive of the championship and the players. Today, there were no roars. Yes, there were lots of birdies, but the sparse crowds were family and friends. My hope is that with a Saturday finish, Friday and Saturday will bring out many more golf fans to watch some of the best women golfers in the world.

It’s a hike to the first hole. It’s a fair statement to say that the walk from the clubhouse to the No. 1 tee is about two par 5s. In fact, when teams make the turn at 9 and finish at 18, the clubhouse is nowhere in sight. There are quite a few hikes from tee to green, and unfortunately it’s impossible to see every shot of the group you are following.

After my hike from No. 2 green to the tee box on 3 (which is next to the clubhouse), I saw what was proving to be a tough tee shot. The wind was blowing left to right and players were teeing off OB in the empty lots right of the hole. If I had my grandfather’s ball retriever, I might have been able to bring in some Pro V1s. It appeared to be a graveyard with the school’s golf balls gone forever.

At 3:30 this afternoon, I was crossing the street after the 15th green and heading to the 16th tee. Before I crossed the road, I saw a ticket stand next to a food stand. The girl in the ticket booth looked lonely and abandoned. The food stand seemed to be a hopping night club selling ice cream, whereas the ticket booth seemed to be an unvisited library. I asked the ticket saleswoman how many badges for the championship she has sold today and she replied, “None!” I then asked her how many ice creams the food stand had sold, and she said loudly, “Tons!”

There were some great hole positions out on the golf course today. No one wants to see an easy golf course in Round 1 of a championship, where every team just aims at the center of the green. Hats off to whomever made the hole locations for today’s round, because there were several risk-reward shots to take. It’s interesting to see players debate with themselves what club to pull, and where exactly to aim on the golf course. That said, I saw several smart shots along with some poor decisions. It will be fun to see where pins will be Thursday, because today players at times had to pay for the consequence of a bad idea.

USC vs. UCLA is not quite the rivalry in women’s golf as it is in other sports. These two teams play and are paired with each other numerous times a year. Coach Andrea Gaston of USC and Carrie Forsyth of UCLA annually have recruiting battles for the top players. As a college sports fan, though, it just doesn’t seem right to see two schools of a major rivalry hugging and chatting it up on the course. When attending football and basketball games in college, rivalry games were intense and heated from start to finish. Watching the top two teams in the country for women’s golf, from one of college’s greatest rivalries schmooze and hug after going to battle at the national championship just doesn’t seem right. They can keep it civil, but they can also keep it intense, as well.

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