Forecaddie: For NCAAs in 2020, pack plenty of sunscreen and watch out for rattlers

Courtesy of Grayhawk Golf Club/Lonna Tucker

Forecaddie: For NCAAs in 2020, pack plenty of sunscreen and watch out for rattlers

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Forecaddie: For NCAAs in 2020, pack plenty of sunscreen and watch out for rattlers

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Since the NCAA Championships moved to a fortnight of golf, Mother Nature has been the leading lady of one too many rounds. That should change beginning in 2020, when the championships move to Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., for a three-year span.

Goodbye six-hour weather delays and canceled rounds, hello sunshine.  The Forecaddie already has started to hydrate.

“In Arizona, the only big issue we’re going to have is heat exhaustion,” said Arizona coach Laura Ianello. “Dehydration issues. I think the medical staff next year is all about making sure these teams understand what 100- to 105 degree weather, what it will do to the body.”

RELATED: Grayhawk, Scottsdale have strong golf history

The good news is the average high in Scottsdale in May is 92 degrees. It jumps to 101 in June. When The Forecaddie talked to Arizona State coach Missy Farr-Kaye in mid-May, it was a Chamber of Commerce 75 degrees.

She’s not concerned.

But anyone who has been to the women’s championship in recent years knows to prepare for the worst. In this case, that means sun umbrellas, sun sleeves, sunscreen and snakes.

“You hit an errant tee shot, you’re going to be in the middle of cactus or you’re going to have a rattlesnake on your foot,” said Ianello. “You see them every week, especially from April to September.”

Folks, The Man Out Front will be a down-the-middle guy these next three years. Spray it off the tee and you’re on your own.

Since the men and women started to play at the same venue four years ago, course setup has been an area of controversy. Many felt the scores were too high early on. At the Blessings in Fayetteville, Arkansas, half the women’s field failed to break 80 in Round 1.

Ianello says Grayhawk’s biggest line of defense will be length. They’ve already added new tee boxes for the men. It could play more than 6,600 for the women, given the added 20 to 30 yards of roll off the tee.

“I think the scores will be impressive the next three years,” said Ianello. “I think it will be like an LPGA event.”

ASU serves as host at Grayhawk, and Farr-Kaye said they’ll soon roll out a publicity campaign to try to tap into all the alumni bases in the area.

The Sun Devil women practice on 25 courses in the area and usually end up at Grayhawk about once a month. Unlike the Blessings, the vast majority of coaches are quite familiar with the Raptor Course, given the number of times they’ve recruited at the long-standing Thunderbird International Junior.

John Tyson, founder of the Blessings, already has his hand up to host NCAAs again. He’d like to see the championships rotate among six or seven sites.

“I think kids have the right to go play their national championship in the East and West and North and South,” he told TMOF.

He’s not the only one. Gwk


(Note: This story appears in the June 2019 issue of Golfweek.)

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