By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – There's a sense of familiarity with the 2016 fall slate of the Tennessee Tech men's golf team, as the newest schedule for the Golden Eagles features three return trips to events that saw success from the purple and gold just last season.
"A couple of the tournaments we will be going to are ones we have participated in the past," head coach Polk Brown explained. "The last two we did not attend last season, so there is a little mix of both old and new when it comes to experience at these courses."
Just as was with the women's schedule, the men will also kick off the 2016 campaign with a return trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C. for the GolfWeek Program Challenge at True Blue Plantation from Sept. 11-13.
"Starting off the semester, we're headed back to Myrtle Beach with the women's team and playing at True Blue again," Brown said. "We had some success there last year. Matthew (Giles) obviously did very well and we got some good vibes there. It's a course where the guys are going to have to go low. It's a shootout. In the next few weeks when we get everyone back, we'll be looking for some good scores during qualifying. Having spoken with the guys over the summer, I know they're looking forward to going back there."
Also making a second-straight appearance on the men's fall slate is SIUE's Derek Dolenc Invitational, a two-day event spanning Sept. 26-27 at Gateway National Golf Club in Madison, Ill.
"SIUE's tournament is at another excellent course and gives us early playing experience against a few different teams from the OVC," Brown added. "It's a great track and we really enjoyed going up there last year and we're excited to have the chance to return."
An Oct. 10-11 trek to Bowling Green, Ky. represents the final consecutive appearance for the Golden Eagles in the fall, Western Kentucky's Kenny Perry Invitational at The Club at Olde Stone. And last year's success will make for an excellent kick start for the return trip.
"We came very close to winning at Olde Stone last fall," Brown recalled. "We finished third there and Matthew tied for second, so we got some good mojo at that event going into this year. Olde Stone is just a world-class facility and always plays extremely difficult. I know our guys are up to the challenge and it'll be nice to play a course of that caliber during our fall break."
Tech will stay in state for its fourth tournament of the fall, visiting the home of OVC rival Austin Peay in Clarksville, Tenn. for the F&M Bank Intercollegiate at Clarksville Country Club. The two-day event will span Oct. 17-18, and is sure to feature play against several league rivals of the purple and gold.
"We've played in Austin Peay's event in the past," Brown explained, "but this year we are headed to a different course than usual. It's been over 10 years since their men's team has hosted an event at Clarksville Country Club. It's much different than Novadell, where they normally play. There's a lot of up-and-down or undulation and elevation change throughout the course. Coach [Robbie] Wilson has a good field set for that event and it should be a fun to try out the course in Clarksville."
The Golden Eagles will wrap up the fall with an Oct. 31-Nov. 1 journey to Birmingham, Ala. for the Samford Intercollegiate. Hosted by Tech's former OVC rival, the tournament will commence at the illustrious Greystone Golf & Country Club.
"This past year, that course hosted a PGA Senior Tour major," Brown said, "which is a big deal. I've heard excellent things about that course down in Birmingham and that will be a good one to close the fall out on. That's right at the end of October, so it'll be a little bit cooler and weather should be pretty nice for us.
"I'm just excited to see what the guys can do. We lost four players from last year, so there are several opportunities for some new faces to step up to the plate this year. It'll be fun to see who emerges and I know we're all looking forward to it."
Photo by Tony Marable