DECATUR — The girls golfing in the Class 2A State Golf Tournament Friday and Saturday at Hickory Point Golf Course will face new rules and stiff competition, but they will enjoy nearly perfect course conditions.
The greens will be green and the rough will be rough — something that isn't always the case after Central Illinois' typically hot summers.
"Right now our conditions are pretty good. Our course superintendent Greg Foley has done a fantastic job with our golf course," Hickory Point's head golf professional Andy Potts said. "We avoided most of the rain on Wednesday and we are relatively dry and the bunkers are in good shape. They are not holding any water and the greens are in good shape."
The condition of the rough — the areas outside of the fairways that generally feature higher, thicker grass — are unusually good for this time of year.
"The rough is rough and it is very thick right now. We never really lost any rough this year," Potts said. "It sort of browned out in May because we went through a period where we didn’t have any rains for three weeks and it was warm."
But the cooler summer offered the grounds a chance to recover.
"We got more rain in June and we had some hot and cool spells and it was damp enough all year that nothing ever burned out. Normally it gets to this time of year your rough gets thinned out. We don’t water the rough so it shows the most stress from the heat. It stayed green all year," Potts said.
At the same time Hickory Point hosts the 2A tournament, the girls Class 1A state tournament will take place at Red Tail Run on Friday and Saturday.
Saturday's play will also be limited for the first time after the IHSA announced some rules changes in July.
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Only the top eight teams and the top 24 individuals will compete in the second day of the 1A and 2A tournaments. Previously all players and teams would shoot 36 holes over the two days of tournament.
While the Hickory Point grounds are looking good for the competitors, the holes will offer quite a few challenges.
Hickory Point's hole No. 15 sits at the top of the course's difficult hole list. The 551-yard hole is a par 5 with two chances to end up in the water.
"Fifteen is always a challenge for these girls because they have to cross the creek twice," Potts said. "We have had times in the past where that hole is flooded out and that hole plays at a par 3, which everybody loves but that’s not the case most of the time. That hole is very challenging."
Also on the Hickory Point back-nine, hole No. 12 can be an uphill struggle.
"Hole No. 12 is a par 4 (444 yards) and that hole is one of the longest par 4s on the golf course and it is also all uphill. That hole always poses some hurdles for them, too," Potts said.
Golfers will also have to hit over water on par 3 holes No. 13 (184 yards) and No. 8 (148 yards).
The weather forecast for the Decatur area calls for the possibility of rain showers Friday afternoon, which could hamper the rounds of the later starting groups.
The first tee times at both courses begin at 8:30 a.m. Friday and the final group begins play at 10:27 a.m.