Do this year's NCAA Championship courses favor anyone?
As Stanford claimed the men's title last June was played at Golden Horseshoe GC's Gold course, the 6,803-yard par-70 layout that had some rival players complaining that they were forced to leave their drivers in the bag. Such won't be the case when the men visit West Lafayette, Ind., next spring. Purdue's Kampen Course, a Pete Dye design, is a homage to Scottish linksland smack in America's heartland, but with five par-4s that will play more than 475 yards and two par-5s close to the 600-yard mark, it won't have anybody suggesting it plays too short.
"It will definitely give the bombers an advantage," Boilermaker coach Devon Brouse told me recently. "But it tests the complete game. Every club in your bag is going to be used."
The biggest variable the men will face could he weather. When the course held the women's championship there in 2003, wet, breezy weather caused the four-round scoring average to be a stout 78.44. USC's winning team score was 45-over 1,197 while medalist Mikaela Parmlid, a USC senior, shot a nine-over 297. When the wind blows, there's not thing to stop it, making the course a particular challenge.
"I don't think there is anything tricky about it," Clemson coach Larry Penley, who has coached at some summer camps at Purdue, said. "It will be a big tee-ball game that does well there. I can see an excellent driving team succeed. You won't be hitting a lot of 3-woods. You'll be hitting a lot of drivers."
Conversely, the University of New Mexico's Championship Course could be a layout where you'll see red numbers. With Albuquerque's altitude, length shouldn't be an overriding issue on a track that's played to a par 73 in women's events. Each of the last four years when the Lobos have hosted the Dick McGuire Invitational, the winning team has been under par.