Georgia Southern has long been a destination for great college golf as the Schenkel Invitational has attracted top competition for the better part of four decades.
While the Schenkel is played at Forest Heights Country Club, the Georgia Southern University Golf Course — which opened just over three years ago — is currently hosting the Georgia Southern Individual Collegiate.
A brief fog delay Monday morning couldn’t stop the scheduled 36 holes from being played. And after a full day of competition, it was the Eagles’ own Jake Storey in atop the 44-man leaderboard after firing a matching pair of 5-under rounds of 67.
"We’re very proud and excited to have a second tournament and a second course to host at," GS coach Carter Collins said. "It’s great for us that the two courses we play are so different. Forest Heights is pretty open off the tee, but demands good shots near the green. The Georgia Southern course really challenges you from tee to green.
"In our qualifying (to make each team event’s five-man lineup) we’ve consistently seen scores one or one and-a-half strokes higher at the University course."
A challenging course can be tough to score well at for a variety of reasons - some good and some bad. It’s safe to say that the difficulty of the Georgia Southern course has everything to do with a tricky, yet well-planned and expertly-maintained layout.
In its brief lifespan, the course has earned honors as one of Golf Digest’s ‘Top New Courses’ and has already hosted a variety of high-level competitions at the junior and amatuer levels.
"It takes a lot to put on an event of this magnitude," GS Director of Golf Marten Olsson said. "Our staff has been doing extra for the last few weeks to get ourselves prepared. (Course Superintendent Patrick Reinhardt) and his staff have the course in excellent shape. They’ve put in extra work to have the greens running a bit faster and to present a challenge. The good thing is that the extra work has been minimized that the staff puts into the course all of the time, regardless of what events are being played."
Play will resume today as 18 more holes are on the schedule.
The tournament comes at the perfect time for Georgia Southern, which has spent the last three months preparing for the second half of its 2016-17 schedule after playing its last team event in October.
It appears as if the Eagles are ready to hit the ground running in the spring as Brett Barron (T4th place, 72-70, -2), Cody O’Toole (T8th, 74-70, E), Archer Price (11th, 70-75, +1), Crawford Simmons (T14th, 73-74, +3), Luukas Alakulppi (T14th, 73-74, +3) and Steven Fisk (16th, 73-75, +4) are all in the top-20 of the overall field after one day of play.
"This is exactly what we need," Collins said. "We get back to team competition in a couple of weeks when we go down to Florida. Our qualifying is always competitive, but it really helps us to have an individual event where everyone gets a tough test out on the course."