As the IHSA State Girls Class 1A and 2A Golf Tournaments converge on Decatur this weekend, surely new faces will come with. Some competitors will have experienced the pair courses featured from past tournaments, but some might not have. So as their practice rounds start today, we went to the professionals at Red Tail Run Golf Club and Hickory Point Golf Course to find out how the courses are doing and what holes might make or break the athletes' shot at a state title.
Hickory Point Golf Course
Yardage - 5,799; Par - 36-36-72
With the area getting little rain in the days leading up to the Class AA Girls State Golf Tournament, Hickory Point Golf Course Pro Chuck Wiegel said the course's conditions when players tee off Friday morning will be excellent, but golfers will have to be wary of just how far the ball is carrying when it hits the fairways.
"The ball is just rolling," Wiegel said. "They're going to have to adjust to how much it's rolling, especially when you start going downhill. It's going to be really hard out."
Wiegel said the course can be really friendly, especially with its wide fairways, but where golfers often run into trouble is if it is a particularly windy day.
Here is a breakdown of two key holes for golfers this weekend, as told by Wiegel:
No. 15 - 455 yards, par 5
Wiegel: It's an interesting par 5 with a creek that runs through the entire hole that starts on the left side of the fairway. You've got to hit your tee shot short in front of the creek and then your second shot over the creek. Your third shot you're going over the same creek again.
This is really the signature hole here. You can make par on it but we see a lot of 8, 9 or 10's out there. There can be some big scores, especially for those who don't play the course a lot. This hole is hard for anybody.
No. 18 - 316 yards, par 4
Wiegel: This will be a good finishing hole for the girls and it's really all about risk/reward. The fairway is pretty wide but if you get into the trees on the left you could be in trouble. There's a creek at the bottom of the hill that you have to hit over and, especially with the way the ball will be rolling, you have to avoid rolling it into the creek.
The green is elevated going back uphill and so a lot of balls end up short because of the green, especially if the wind makes for a longer shot. Club selection will be key. The green has a bunker on both the left and right sides.
Red Tail Run Golf Club
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Yardage - 5,426; Par - 36-36-72
After a hot and dry summer, Red Tail Run Golf Club professional Kurt Rogers said the course is finally good shape as the Class A Girls State Golf Tournament on Friday.
"We went through a terrible summer," Rogers said. "We were struggling in July and August, but it's coming back now. We reseeded a lot of areas - essentially two-thirds of the course - including greens and fairways. But it's in good shape and I think the girls will like it."
Certainly returning competitors will like another change at the links style course from last year: The always very difficult par 3 17th has been shortened. Previously, golfers would play the hole at 145 yards, "usually into the wind and a great big bunker."
This year the hole is playing at 110 yards.
While 17 will still present a challenge for competitors, Rogers said there are two other holes if a mistake is made, "there's no escaping trouble."
No. 14 - 442 yards, par 5
Rogers: It goes down through our Old Wildwood Golf Course. There are trees on both sides, a pond left and a two-level green that has a big slope.
Our greens out here dry out faster than any other place. When they dry out, they become firm and fast. If the wind is blowing that's a problem for the putting and the driver.
No. 15 - 289, par 4
Rogers: Fifteen is adjacent to 14 so obviously there are trees with sreams and lakes everywhere.
Your second shot is always a downhill shot with a downhill lie.
If the wind blows and if they miss the fairway, there will be trouble. There are bunkers and native prairie grass that can cause problems.