A round of golf in the area of Lake Michigan is an entirely different proposition than a round in Tuscaloosa. That’s why Mic Potter, the head coach of the No. 2 ranked University of Alabama women’s golf team, has done everything possible to prepare the Crimson Tide for the NCAA Championships, which begin today at the par-72, 6,343-yard Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill.
Alabama will be paired with Stanford and Florida in today’s opening round. The Crimson Tide is slated to begin play at 12:30 p.m. CT from the 10th tee in definite Chicago conditions. Potter said after Thursday’s practice round that the forecast was for high temperatures in the mid-50’s with wind gusts up to 25 miles per hour.
In order to acclimate itself, Alabama played in a four-way match hosted by Northwestern University at the Lakeshore Club in Chicago last month. The connection with the Northwestern coaching staff led to opportunity for the Crimson Tide to play at one of the nation’s most revered courses, Medinah Country Club, on Tuesday.
“It was a great experience,” Potter said. “It’s a great course and the wind was blowing, which helped us prepare. Some of the members came out and started to watch us. They aren’t used to seeing women play the way our girls can play, so it was a great time.”
Conditions are only part of the challenge of an NCAA Tournament. Stamina is another. The 30 teams will play three days of stroke play before the field is cut in half on Sunday. Another round of stroke play on Monday will reduce the field to eight quarter finalists. Match play will take place on Tuesday and the two surviving teams will meet in match play for the national championship on Wednesday.
Potter, who already has won one NCAA title (2012) at Alabama, says the Crimson Tide is closer to championship form than it was a year ago.
My assistant (Susan Rosenstiel) and I talked about it last night,” Potter said. “Our feeling this year is much different than it was last year. I did not think we were prepared for last year’s championships. This year, I think we are much more mentally prepared. I feel like we can keep the ball in play and battle through low points. I also think this team is invested in what we are trying to do to win, which is not always the case.
“I don’t know if I would say we are playing our best golfing the last few weeks since we shot a 39-under in our season opener. But all of our players are playing well, well enough to win an individual championship, and that is what you want as a team.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0225.