Michigan State head coach Casey Lubahn didn’t want to choose between two quality tournaments that abut each other. His solution? Play them both. That decision means the Spartans will play 108 holes of competitive golf in two states over four consecutive days.
Michigan State is scheduled to play the Wolf Run Intercollegiate Sept. 15-16 at Wolf Run Golf Club in Zionsville, Ind., then make the four-hour drive to Toledo, Ohio, for the Inverness Collegiate on Sept. 17-18.
“We played both of these events for a simple reason: we want to play the best schedule we can and we were invited to both,” said Lubahn, who’s beginning his second season as head coach. “It is certainly something that is outside the norm, but something we have thought out. I think this program needs to take some risks with the experience we have to get back in the NCAA (Championship) and continue to be competitive in the Big Ten.”
Michigan State was No. 87 in last season’s Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, the team’s best since 2008-09. The Spartans won the 2005 and 2007 Big Ten titles under head coach Mark Hankins, who left after the 2007 season to coach at Iowa. The Spartans also won the 2008 conference title in Sam Puryear’s first year as head coach, but struggled in the latter half of his four-year tenure.
Michigan State will drive approximately two hours on Thursday to play a practice round at Inverness, then arrive in Zionsville at approximately 10 p.m., Lubahn said. The team will play a practice round Friday at Wolf Run. That tournament is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. The team will drive to Toledo on Sunday evening, then play at Inverness on Monday and Tuesday.
Both of Michigan State’s upcoming events are 54 holes completed over two days, with 36 holes being played the first day. The practice rounds on Thursday and Friday bring Michigan State’s total to 144 holes (eight rounds) over six days.
“We have a lot of experience, so we will know what to expect,” Lubahn said. “The only concern would be fatigue, but that is why these guys train and work hard.”
Michigan State will take six players on the trip because the team has an individual spot at Inverness, in addition to the five team spots. The sixth player will play the practice round at Wolf Run, then practice at the course during the tournament, Lubahn said.
The team tried a similarly ambitious schedule in 2002 while Lubahn was playing for the Spartans. They tied for first at the Wolverine Invitational Oct. 5-6, then flew to Rhode Island and played a practice round the following day for the Adams Cup, which was played Oct. 8-9. Michigan State won that event, as well. Lubahn finished 12th in both events.
“It worked out well then, so we will try it again!” Lubahn said.