Men’s golf to compete at Augusta Invitational

By Dan Bernstein

The Masters has been called “a tradition unlike any other” by golfers around the world for years, but no words can describe the beauty of the sport’s most recognized tournament.

“It’s amazing,” sophomore Charlie Danielson said. “The grass is just so green and so perfect. Augusta is a special place and the course has so much history.”

While the Masters will be showcasing the best professional golfers in the world this upcoming week at the Augusta National Golf Club, the No. 8 Illinois men’s golf team will be able to showcase its own talents this weekend as it will also be traveling to Augusta, Ga., to compete in the Augusta Invitational.

The 7,028-yard, par-72 Forest Hills Golf Club will be host to some of the best collegiate talent the sport has to offer. Seven of the top 25 teams in the nation will be competing in the 15-team field, including No. 7 Houston, No. 9 Central Florida and No. 12 Virginia Tech.

The Illini will play 54-holes of stroke play on Saturday, followed by 18-holes on Sunday.

“It’s good to go play against some top competition and some top-rated teams, but in golf you don’t really play against the teams,” head coach Mike Small said. “You go play against the golf course and against yourself, but playing against those teams will gauge where we’re at and our ability to shoot low scores.”

In order to shoot some low scores this weekend, the Illini’s Thomas Detry stressed the importance of playing smart golf. The course is known for some of its tough greens, so missing in the right places will be essential for the Illini. The Illini will need to give themselves opportunities to get up-and-down from around the greens by not short-siding themselves on their approach shots. Saving strokes around the greens will be essential for the Illini in order to give them the best opportunity to compete for the title on Sunday.

“Right now I think we’re pretty good some days and not good others,” Small said. “We can shoot some low numbers on any given day, but we need to be more consistent. As long as we believe we can compete and be competitive, we can go do it.”

While the Illini will be competing against some of the best competition in college golf this weekend, they will also get the opportunity to watch the best players in the world on Monday. Over the last few years, Small has taken his team to one of the Master’s practice rounds, and will do so again this year. 

The Illini will take notes on how the best players in the world prepare, practice and get ready for a major championship.

“It’s a valuable learning experience,” Small said. “I love the golf course. I love the uniqueness of it. It’s one of the most unique golf courses anywhere in the world. It’s a treat to go to.”

The course isn’t the only thing that’s unique about the Master’s experience.

“I really like that the food is really good and it’s really cheap,” Danielson said. “The sandwiches are like one or two bucks, it’s crazy.”

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and @yaboybernie11.