The golf world will be paying close attention to Oklahoma in 2018, particularly at the collegiate level.
The Big 12 Championship is April 23-25 at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, followed by an NCAA Regional May 14-16 at Jimmie Austin OU Golf Course in Norman.
The trifecta of championships is capped by having the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Championships at Karsten Creek in Stillwater. The 2018 NCAA Division I Women’s Championship will be played May 18-23, followed by the men from May 25-30.
It’s even more exciting that the defending NCAA champions are located in Norman, while Oklahoma State has probably the nation’s deepest team and will be determined to hold serve at home, something it failed to do in 2011 when Augusta State and Patrick Reed knocked the Cowboys out in the semifinals.
How about a Bedlam matchup in the finals this spring with maybe Brad Dalke and Hayden Wood or Brendon Jelley dueling in the final match with the national title on the line? Too much to ask?
Both the OSU and OU women’s teams are also on the rise and could be factors by tournament time.
Also in 2018, we’ll be following other stories of interest, including the never-ending challenges facing the game and our courses. Play was largely stable or slightly improved in 2017, but the list of courses closing still continues while only a new nine holes at WinStar World Resort opened. A new nine holes at Surrey Hills Golf Club in Yukon is being constructed, another encouraging sign. And the par-3 course at LaFortune Park, where thousands of golfers learned to play the game, will be completely reworked this winter by architect Randy Heckenkemper.
We’ll be reporting on the history of Meadowbrook Country Club in Tulsa and how long it will remain open, as well as following developments at White Hawk Golf Course in Bixby and others that could potentially close or go forward depending on expiring leases and pending ownership deals. The Golf Club of Oklahoma is going forward with improvements while it’s lawsuit against American Golf is scheduled to begin this spring if no settlement is reached.
One course not going anywhere is Southern Hills, but it will be shutting down for a while in late summer to begin a huge renovation that includes new greens, bunkers, some tees, indoor practice facility, short-game area and much more. The $19 million renovation will help the course prepare for the 2021 Senior PGA Championship and eventually a PGA Championship, the date of which will hopefully be firmed up soon.
Superintendents will be a bit nervous this spring until they see the first signs of green. After an exceptionally dry and warm fall, the bitter cold coming this week is the kind that can damage Bermuda grass fairways. Let’s hope no significant winter kill occurs.
On the professional level, we’ll be watching and hoping for big years on the PGA Tour from Oklahomans such as Robert Streb, Kevin Tway, Talor Gooch and Tag Ridings as well as all the former Cowboys and Sooners on both the PGA Tour and Web.com Tour. Who will be the next Oklahoman to join them on the PGA Tour? Max McGreevy is a good bet, but there are a host of others working their way up or even still in college who are going to be great.
We’ll also be there for the Oklahoma Golf Association and Women’s Oklahoma Golf Association championships as well as high school titles and other significant events. It should be an amazing and exciting year for golf in Oklahoma and Golf Oklahoma looks forward to helping you keep up.
Happy New Year to all of our readers, best of luck to all the competitors and we’ll see you on the fairways in 2018!
– Ken MacLeod