Crabapple course will 'test your patience'
Kent State coach Herb Page called it “a big-boy golf course.”
Texas coach John Fields termed it as a “strategic” course and one that will “definitely test your patience.”
Washington coach Matt Thurmond called it “the ultimate just-keep-plugging-along” course.
It’s the Tom Fazio-designed Capital City Club Crabapple course in Woodstock, Ga., which hosted the Ping/Golfweek Preview on Sept. 23-25, and is the site of the 2013 NCAA Men’s Division I Championship.
Members play the course at par 72, and from the back (gold) tees, the scorecard shows a length of 7,114.
At the Ping/Golfweek Preview, the course played to a par-70 and stretched to 7,248 yards. For the tournament, the par-5, 518-yard ninth hole was made into a par 4 and played about 500 yards. The 16th hole also went from a par 5 to a par 4, at 498 yards.
“Basically it will be the same course (for the NCAA Championship), although we have some new and interesting pin placements in mind,” said Bob Covington, general chairman for the 2013 NCAA.
“I’m pleased with the way the course held up this week (at Preview),” he said. “You don’t like to have players just tear it up and go super low, but on the other hand you don’t want to make it so hard that people get disgusted and discouraged. I think we’ll have a good mix and feel it will be a good test for the NCAA Championship.”
That seemed to be the consensus from the coaches at the Ping/Golfweek Preview.
“This is not the type of course where you’re going to see teams separate themselves with a lot of birdies,” Texas A&M coach J.T. Higgins said. “I think the separation will come from teams not playing well and going the other way.”
Alabama coach Jay Seawell felt much the same way.
“It’s a very good modern golf course and one that should keep things close,” he said. “Par is a good score out here, and it (NCAA) should be a pretty exciting championship.”
At the Preview, Georgia Tech and California tied for first at 5-over 845 for 54 holes. Both also shot the week’s best team score, with 4-under 276s in the final round.
Tom Berry, a San Diego State senior from England, was the low individual at 2-under 208. Eight players tied for second at even-par 210. No player posted even par or better in each of the three rounds.
The average score for three rounds was 72.66 – playing 72.89 the first day, 72.40 the second, and 72.69 the last.
The tournament’s low round was a closing 4-under 66 from Georgia Tech junior Seth Reeves. Of the 225 total rounds, only 31 were below 70.
That’s pretty much the way Covington wanted it: tough, demanding but not overly intimidating. The best way to put it is fair. Keeping your ball in the fairway and avoiding the gnarly Bermudagrass rough is key. Hit good shots, and you’re rewarded. Hit bad shots, and you pay the price.
“This is one tough course,” UCLA coach Derek Freeman said. “You have to be patient and know where to place your ball on the greens. It definitely tests you mentally. It’s a monster and challenges every part of your game.”
Added UNLV coach Dwaine Knight: “This is one big golf course. You’ve really got to hit the shots. It’s in great shape, and the greens are perfect. If you drive it well, you’re rewarded, but if you get into the rough, even around the greens, you’re going to have a tough time.”
No doubt, the Crabapple course, which has played host to the PGA Tour’s 2003 American Express Championship, 2010 NCAA South Regional, 2012 AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions and 2005 AJGA Canon Cup, should make for an interesting NCAA Championship next spring.