It’s a difficult golf course, but it might be the best golf course for the University of Alabama men’s golf team.

The Crimson Tide begins play Friday at the NCAA Golf National Championships at the Rich Harvest Farms golf course in Sugar Grove, Ill., just 50 miles outside of Chicago.

Rich Harvest Farms is a monster of a course, stretching 7,300 yards with a reputation for its difficulty. It might be just the course to focus a surging Alabama team.

“I think this is a good golf course for us,” Alabama head coach Jay Seawell said. “We needed a course like this, where every day, every shot, every moment is of high demand.”

Alabama wasn’t supposed to be here, not according to the golf establishment, which might have written the team off earlier in the year due to injury and struggles. But it’s a spot the program has grown accustomed to under the stewardship of Seawell.

It’s Alabama’s ninth appearance at nationals in the last 11 years under Seawell and the 19th overall as a program. The trip was secured with a strong performance at the Washington Regional in Sammamish, Wash., in which the team shot a 2-under during the final round to secure a third-place finish.

That round gave the team a boost, a surge of energy heading into the most important rounds of the season.

“I think it gives us a lot of confidence,” junior Jonathan Hardee said. “We were definitely not expected to be there from the standpoint of the rest of the world looking in. But all of us believed our best was ahead of us and this spring season has been really good for us.

“I definitely think we have some momentum heading into the national championship.”

The three-round stroke play starts today for the 30 teams competing. After 54 holes, a cut will take the teams down to 15. After a fourth round, the teams will be cut to eight. Those eight teams will participate in three rounds of match play to determine a national champion.

Seawell thinks his team is playing its best golf of the season.

“I think this team is better than people think we are, and I think some coaches realize that now.,” Seawell said. “We have some great players. This is a special group.

“That’s what we talked about before the final round of the regional, every time their back has been up against the wall, they’ve responded. There’s character there, there’s something about that. That kind of gives you some energy heading into the national championship.”


Reach Aaron Suttles at or at 205-722-0229.