For the Colorado men’s golf team, the opportunity to host the conference tournament doesn’t come around very often.
Now that it’s here, CU head coach Roy Edwards has a simple message to his team: Enjoy it.
“Enjoy playing in front of quite a few fans that will be out here,” Edwards said. “If you enjoy it and let your game do your talking for you, you’ll relax and calm down and do it. They’re all ready to go. They’re supposed to enjoy it. If you take that mindset, that’ll take care of itself.”
Beginning on Friday, CU will host the Pac-12 men’s golf championship at Boulder Country Club. The 72-hole tournament is scheduled to begin with 36 holes on Friday and then 18 holes on Saturday and Sunday.
CU has hosted a conference tournament four other times, but not since 1972. With the Pac-12 rotating the hosting sites among the schools, it may be another 20-plus years before the tournament returns to Boulder.
“I’ve been excited for this particular tournament since we found out it was going to be here two years ago,” CU junior John Souza said. “I’ve been telling all my friends and family and everyone to come out to this because I really think it’s going to be a special thing.”
CU will not have its top player, senior Jeremy Paul (who turned pro last week), but is still confident in its ability to compete for the title. The Pac-12 features three top-10 teams, including No. 1 Southern California, while the Buffs are ranked 25th nationally by Golfweek.
“We’ve got a talented group of guys that really have a chance to win the championship,” Edwards said.
CU is hoping to take advantage of being on its home course. The Buffs routinely play at Boulder Country Club two or three times a week and have been out there nearly every day in preparation for this event.
Souza said that outside of his home course in Phoenix, he knows BCC better than any other course, and that plays into CU’s favor, especially on difficult greens.
“You really don’t know it until you’re on it like we’ve been,” Souza said.
The course isn’t long, but demands accuracy off the tee and a strong short game.
“This golf course, it might be short, but it grits its teeth a little bit if you’re not careful,” CU junior Spencer Painton said. “There’s some things about this golf course that having a little local knowledge helps out quite a bit.”
The altitude could help, as well. While the Buffs are used to “going down the hill,” as Edwards puts it, the rest of the Pac-12 is not used to coming up to this altitude.
“There is a factor for sure,” Stanford coach Conrad Ray said. “Our guys are pretty well experienced and we like to travel a lot throughout the year playing in different elevations and different climates, so I’m sure there will be some adjustment there for us and our guys. It definitely plays into strategy and figuring out what those percentages are.”
Lineup depth will also play a key role. In most tournaments, teams use five players and take the top four scores, but in this event, each team has six players, with five scores counting.
Even without Paul, the Buffs believe their depth can stack up with the rest of the conference.
“Whoever it is, we expect them to play at a really high level,” Edwards said.
In addition to 1972, CU hosted conference tournaments in 1954, 1961 and 1968. … CU has won three conference titles, including in 1954 and 1968 when it hosted. It also shared the title with Oklahoma in 1955. … Attendance for the tournament this weekend is free.
Brian Howell: email@example.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.