ND Free Pass: Golf

Author: Carol Schaal '91M.A.

Carol Schaal

If I’ve learned one thing in my spectator sampling of the less-heralded side of Notre Dame competitions, it’s not always to trust advance information posted online. Take golf, if you would, please — and please without telling me the details of your shot on the 14th hole.

To catch the Notre Dame golfers in action at home, my choices for the 2010-11 academic year were severely limited. The women were home only for an October 2010 invitational, which I had missed. For the men, I had two opportunities: a September 2010 Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic, which I’d also missed, or the April 12 Battle at the Warren. So, the Battle at the Warren it was.

According to the online golf schedule, the tournament would be “All Day.” A search for an actual starting time was no help. Although posting that information should be par for the course, I instead had to call the athletic department. The tournament, I learned, would start at 1:30 p.m.

Calling a 1:30 p.m. start an all-day affair sounds like a tired student’s idea of timekeeping, but no matter. It fit with my idea of the way to spend a sunny, 60-degree afternoon in South Bend. And so, handy chair in hand, I set up shop near some blooming daffodils and, for the next 90 minutes, watched golfers from Detroit Mercy, Oakland, Bradley, Jackson State and Notre Dame tee off.

A helpful announcer reeled off the names and colleges of each golfer and, off the mic, sometimes congratulated one on a nice shot. It was all very convivial and even health-conscious, with bottled water and bananas available for the hard-swinging entrants.

Once everyone was on his merry way, sans caddies or carts, it became clear to me that no spectators were walking around the greens, staking out a good viewing spot to catch later action of the 18-hole tournament. Of course, maybe that was because spectators seemed to be as rare as a double eagle.

Again, no matter. Even though I was too fearful of walking in the wrong spot to wander the course alone, I had a plan. The clubhouse, also home of the Warren Grille, a pro shop and restrooms, has a nice outdoor deck, and I figured I could catch some action from that spot.

While the restaurant was closed, the doors to the clubhouse were open. But when I walked onto the deck, I could see only an older golfer, putting on one of the nearby holes. Not, I was sure, one of the tournament golfers.

So much for that approach. On to Plan B, which meant a drive around the course perimeter. Maybe I could see some play at a few holes from the outskirts.

Off Douglas road, south of the course, I did see a poor golfer hacking his way around a sand trap, but parking anywhere close was a hazard. So I drove north on Juniper, west of the links. My attempt to find a viewing spot in a nearby residential neighborhood ended with me on a dead-end road near some weedy out-of-bounds area of the course. And so back on Juniper, where all I saw was what looked to be a student climbing the fence onto the course. Ah, finally, some action.

I went back to work.

The tournament ended with a Notre Dame win, I later learned, because the online site is helpful in that regard. And if you do want to see some collegiate golf, it appears that the ND women’s team will host the 2011 NCAA Women’s Central Regional at the highly ranked Warren course.

That regional tournament will take place May 5-7. But don’t take my word for it.

Check out ND Free Pass for a spectator’s sampling of the less-heralded side of Notre Dame competitions: the rowing and the running, the putting and the spiking. Carol Schaal is managing editor of Notre Dame Magazine. Email her at schaal.2@nd.edu.