The NCAA Golf Championships every May often fly under the radar in Northern Illinois. This year should be different. Both the men’s and women’s tournaments will play out here the next two weeks thanks to NIU and one fabulous golf course.
The NCAA championships are high drama. Teams and individual champions are crowned. That drama will play out starting this Friday at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove near Aurora. It’s a private course that’s rated one of the top 100 courses in the country. It’s also the home course of the NIU men’s and women’s golf teams.
“It’s the toughest course that we’ll ever see in the college game for NIU,” says NIU women’s golf coach Kim Kester.
Rich Harvest Farms has hosted the women’s Solheim Cup and the men’s Arnold Palmer Cup. It opened in 1989 on more than 1800 acres of farmland. Many of the old farm buildings are still there. It’s a par 72 course that is laid out on wooded hillsides, and open fields with streams and wetland.
“Everything here is challenging,” says Kester. “Your first key is getting the ball in play. The rough is super long, and then just pin positions too. They tuck some over the bunkers or put them in the corner.”
There are bunkers every where.
“Around 144 I think,” says Kester. “It puts stress on all parts of your game, but the short game is the biggest key.” “Every hole has a different character to it. One might be tight. One might be more open. My favorite hole is five Silver. Par 3 over water. It’s one of the most beautiful holes on the course.”
“There’s so many great holes. You come out to Rich Harvest and you kind of lose track on what time it is, where you’re at. It’s just such a beautiful place!”
The women’s tournament tees off Friday morning (May 19). It runs through next Wednesday. The men’s tournament will tee off next Friday (May 26).