Mesa hosts rare men’s golf tournament

Nine college golf teams met Tiara Rado Golf Course on Sunday.

Few of the players had ever seen, let alone played, the course nestled at the base of Colorado National Monument.

The Colorado Mesa University men’s team plans to use that to its advantage today and tomorrow in the Maverick Invitational/RMAC #2 tournament.

“They get one practice round. You’re not going to learn what all Tiara Rado has to offer, the things that it hides, if you will,” CMU golf coach Matt Ward said. “Our guys have played it so many times. Trevor’s (McKune) been here four years, he’s played it more than 100 times. You kind of get to know it real well.”

When the Mavericks were invited to host one of the RMAC events in the fall, they jumped at the chance. Colorado Mesa has hosted only two other men’s tournaments, a spring invitational the first year of the program in 2010, and the RMAC #1 in the fall of 2012.

The Mavericks won the 2010 tourney at the Golf Club at Redlands Mesa and were fifth in 2012 at The Bridges in Montrose.

“The last time was probably when I was a junior in high school,” McKune said. “I’m excited, we’re all excited. We all know the course really well, so hopefully we finish first or second up there. We all play well at the course and we’re looking forward to it.”

There are some perks to playing on your home course — Ward and the players had input on how the course professionals set tee boxes and pin placements.

College men’s golf is set up to play three rounds in two days, with today’s first two rounds making for a long, grinding day. Players tee off at 8:30 a.m. each day.

“They want to do well here,” Ward said. “You want to defend your home territory. Psychologically, if you show up earlier than everybody else, it gets in their heads, whether they realize it or not.

“They see this as our home course. It’s not your course, this is where we live. We want to protect our house, not that we can play any kind of defense, but everybody who comes here needs to know this is our office, this is where we work.”

Each team will enter a five-man team, but as the hosts, the Mavs will enter six individuals in addition to the five-man team. Ward was still determining his lineup last week, with a couple of players, junior Alex Trevino and senior Kyler Smith, battling injuries.

McKune, who placed third in the RMAC 1 tournament last month in Denver, said the key to handling the added pressure of playing a rare home tournament is to treat it like any other day on the links.

“Some might feel more pressure, but it’s my job as a senior to kind of help them out with having the same mindset no matter where you go, where you play,” he said. “It’s golf. Golf happens. You make big numbers, small numbers. It doesn’t really matter, you have to keep the same mindset wherever you’re playing.”

One of the visiting players who knows a thing or two about the course is CU-Colorado Springs’ Colin Prater, who played at Mesa as a freshman in 2013-14 before transferring to his hometown school.

The Mavericks know every twist and turn at Tiara Rado, with its tight front nine and open back nine. They know the greens, which holes you need to play it safe off the tee and when you can grip and rip. And they know the role of that big red rock monument.

“As much as we play the course there are certain areas where you know you can hit it and can’t hit it,” McKune said. “There are certain subtleties to the greens, the breaks; the monument is a big factor at Tiara Rado because everything usually breaks away from the monument.

“It kind of helps to know those kinds of things.”


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