LSU head coach Chuck Winstead remembers walking Dalhousie Golf Club in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, in 2009 while recruiting at the AJGA’s Rolex Tournament of Champions.
“It’s a really good golf course,” said Winstead. “It’s solid tee to green, good layout, I think it’s a really, really good test.”
Winstead brought a team back to Dalhousie this past week for the season-opening Golfweek Collegiate Kickoff. LSU went 20 under for 54 holes, edging Missouri by seven shots. Dalhousie has proven a stout test for a college field and the many other events – from the Missouri Amateur to the AJGA Rolex – it has hosted since coming online in 2002.
Sam Houston State head coach Brandt Kieschnick could picture a postseason event there someday.
“The golf course was a great test and could host an NCAA Regional,” said Kieschnick, whose Bears were sixth at 7 over. “We loved the setup.”
Ball State head coach Mike Fleck arrived at Dalhousie and saw shades of home. The Gary Nicklaus design felt like a combination of Indiana’s Pfau Course and Victoria National, two of Indiana’s most challenging golf courses.
“Dalhousie presented itself as a great venue and challenging setup,” Fleck said. “With tight fairways lined with trouble, it definitely rewarded those that drove the ball in play. The fairways and greens were a bit softer than we anticipated, but you really have to be precise on the big undulating greens.”
Dalhousie is a big layout on undulating, South Missouri terrain. Bentgrass tees and greens and Zoysia fairways offered a new look for Stetson’s men, who are used to Bermudagrass back home in Daytona Beach, Florida.
“It was in incredible condition, everything you could probably say how good it was, it was,” Stetson head coach Danny Forshey said. “For us, coming from Florida, it was different. That was one of the reasons we enjoyed it, I think it’s important for our guys to play different venues.”
After two rounds – a practice round and the first round of competition – Stetson was dialed in. The Hatters’ four counters were under par in Round 2, with John Houchin leading the way at 67. Only LSU fired a better second-round score.
“I knew after the practice round, I was thinking this is different, I wish we had seen this place before,” Forshey said. “As you could kind of tell, after we got through the first round, then after they saw it twice and getting into that second round on Monday, getting to see it for the third time, you could see our guys get a little more comfortable.”
Stetson, a team that traveled to the National Golf Invitational last spring for its first postseason start in program history, ended the second round of the Golfweek Kickoff sandwiched between the two SEC programs in the 12-team field. The Hatters trailed LSU by eight but were five ahead of tournament-host Missouri. They subsequently got an SEC pairing for the final round.
Forshey loved that final-round draw for his players just as much as he loved the test Dalhousie brought. Several of the tee shots took discipline – like the par-4 10th that features a double fairway – and lengthy par 3s that required commitment to good targets.
“It’s such a good test,” said Forshey, whose Hatters ultimately finished third at 5 under, the only team beside LSU and Missouri to finish under par. “You can shoot 65 or 66 out there but you’re going to have to play some really good golf.”
LSU graduate transfer Alex Price fired a 65 to start the 36-hole day Sept. 4, and Missouri sophomore Alfons Bondesson closed with 65 the next day. Despite those low rounds, the amateur course record of 64 shared by LPGA winner Rose Zhang and Dustin Korte, who played college golf at Austin Peay, still stands.
Price won the individual title with an 11-under total, while Missouri’s Jack Lundin came in second at 10 under.
“It’s what I’m familiar with, and it’s where I learned to play,” Price said in describing Dalhousie after 36 holes. “I’m always going to love that, and on top of it, there’s a lot of fun shots and cool holes.”
It adds up to an unforgettable season opener.