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2013-14 spring schedule brings new challenges for Tech women's golf team

By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information

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COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – With the new year just days away, the Tennessee Tech women's golf team has announced its 2013-14 spring schedule, which includes events against familiar opponents, a trip out west, and the Golden Eagles hosting a tournament for the second straight year.

"The women did a great job this fall," said head coach Polk Brown, "both with the girls we brought back and with the additions we brought in. We've laid the groundwork for what I think will be something special in the spring."

Kicking things off for the Golden Eagles is a trip to South Carolina to play in the Kiawah Island Intercollegiate in South Carolina. The event will cover three days, Mar. 2-4, and two courses, Kiawah Island Golf Resort's Cougar Point and Turtle Point courses.

Originally named Marsh Point, Cougar Point was redesigned by Gary Player in 1996 and plays 6,875 yards. It features a great blend of short and long par-4s, great risk/reward par-5s and extremely scenic and challenging par-3s.

Turtle Point is a low-profile golf course that delivers a high caliber golfing experience. Designed by PGA Tour legend Jack Nicklaus, the course experiences a lot of wind, as do all of the courses on Kiawah Island. The wind blows in different directions throughout the day. Trees protect many areas at Turtle Point so players won't always sense how the wind might affect their shots. Local knowledge is very important in dealing with these phantom winds.

"This is our second year in-a-row going to Kiawah Island," explained Brown. "The tournament there last year was outstanding and we have some history there. I look forward for our team to get to go out there again and start off the spring schedule at that event. I'm sure the weather will be great and getting to play at courses of that caliber is always an honor."

In Tech's second even of the spring, the women's team will find itself traveling across the country to Las Vegas for the Bison Invitational hosted by Bucknell. The two-day event, spanning Mar. 10-11, will mark the first time in Brown's head coaching tenure that the squad will travel by air to such a far destination. The tournament will take place at the Paiute Golf Resort.

World Golf Hall of Fame Inductee and Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient, Pete Dye, is the design force behind the three distinctive layouts found at this unique destination just 25 minutes northwest of the world famous Las Vegas Strip. Renowned for his course architecture, as well as comedic commentary about the game and the courses he has designed, Pete Dye proved how "One-of-a-Kind can now come in Threes" in his concept to realization of Snow Mountain, Sun Mountain and Wolf. Never missing a chance to infuse his legendary challenge of the field with his signature elements such as railroad tie bunkers and sweeping slope changes, he ensured each course within this Vegas Trio presents the golfer a different experience from its siblings.

"Going to Vegas during spring break should be a fun trip," explained Brown. "As a coach, you're never quite sure to what to expect in tournaments when you're flying, but I look forward to what this step means to our program and to see what our team can do out west."

On Mar. 10 and 11, the Golden Eagles will compete in their own event, hosting the second annual Bobby Nichols Intercollegiate in Sevierville, Tenn. The women's team took home the inaugural championship trophy, defeating 11 other teams in the mid-March event.

Located at Sevierville Golf Club, the event was named in the memory of legendary Tennessee Tech coach Bobby Nichols and opened with the inaugural tournament last season.

Nichols took over the Tennessee Tech men's golf program in 1979 and was responsible for establishing the Golden Eagle women's team in 1986. A Hall of Famer for both Tennessee Tech and the Ohio Valley Conference, he lost his battle with cancer in 2008 at the age of 66. 

Current head coach Polk Brown played for Nichols from 2001-2006 and was named Tech's head coach in 2011.

"It means a lot to have it named after Coach Nichols," Brown said. "He did so many great things for golf here at Tennessee Tech and for the state as well. When I became the coach here, one of the things I wanted to do was have a tournament in his name. It's an honor to be able to do this for the University and for him for a second time."

The Sevierville Golf Club features two 18-hole championship courses: The Highlands, a par 70 that winds through lush rolling hills and fresh water mountain ponds and The River, a par 72 which plays along and across the Little Pigeon River.

"To go back to our tournament in the spring and defend the championship is going to be great," said Brown. "I'm really excited about that and hopefully this year the weather will cooperate a little better. We're looking at a full field this year. There are a lot of good teams coming to compete."

A two-plus week layoff separates the Golden Eagles from the Bobby Nichols Intercollegiate and their next assignment, the EKU Colonel Classic hosted by Ohio Valley Conference foe Eastern Kentucky. Beginning on Apr. 4, this two-day event takes place at the Arlington Club in Richmond, Ky.

The 18-hole, par 72 championship golf course at Arlington is known as one of the region's finest, draped over rolling hills and embracing wooded areas and water features. Challenging and picturesque, the course promises to surpass expectations for golfers of all levels. Arlington golf tournaments bring the excitement of friendly competition to the home course.

"It's been awhile since our women's team has been to EKU's event," Brown explained, "but I'm looking forward to our return there. The course in Richmond is one that our players typically enjoy a lot and that usually leads to better results."

Tech plays just one more event before the Ohio Valley Conference Championship, a one-day tournament hosted by OVC rival Morehead State. Taking place on Apr. 13 at Kearney Hill Golf Links in Lexington, Ky., the Golden Eagles will get one last tune-up before playing for all the marbles.

Kearney Hill Golf Links, designed by Pete & P.B. Dye, is the premier public golf facility in the Bluegrass Region.  With open, rolling, wind-swept terrain, Kearney Hill offers a touch of Scotland in Kentucky.  This course features bent grass fairways, tees, and greens, 75 sand bunkers, numerous grass bunkers and water that are in play on six holes.

Kearney Hill has hosted the Senior PGA Tour, Celebrity Players Tour, PGA Junior Series, and will be one of only nine courses in the United States to have hosted both the U.S. Men and Women's Public Links Championships.

"We'll have a one-day event with Morehead State, Austin Peay, and Eastern Kentucky as a good little tune-up for the conference tournament," Brown said. "It'll be good for the girls to get some last minute work in, no matter how short the event is, especially with the [OVC] tournament just one week later."

The final stop of the year for the Golden Eagle team is the Ohio Valley Conference Championship Tournament. Running from Apr. 21-23, the event will take place at RTJ Shoals Fighting Joe Course in Muscle Shoals, Ala.

The Fighting Joe course at The Shoals was the first Trail course to break 8,000 yards. Travel + Leisure Golf named Fighting Joe one of the top new courses in 2004.

The Golden Eagles placed in an impressive third place last season and will look to improve that mark in the next go-around, looking to capture an OVC title.

"I'm excited," replied Brown. "I think they really made a lot of positive strides this semester and were very competitive. We have to continue to work hard and improve in our weaker areas, but I think that we have a great chance to make some noise. I'm looking forward to getting to the event and go out there and make a run at it."