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W&M Golf Takes on Hilton Head for Spring Break
Updated: Sunday 03/07/2012 (ET)
by Jacob Skipper
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Blog #1 - Coach Jay Albaugh, March 7th

While the winter in Williamsburg has seemed more like spring and our team has not really missed any practice days because of bad weather, it is always nice to be able to head south during the spring season to practice and play.  Thanks to an invitation from former Tribe Golfers Chris Christensen '68 and Mike Eberhardt '69, we are fortunate to be spending part of our spring break at Colleton River Plantation in Bluffton, S.C. (just outside Hilton Head).  We had heard many good things about these golf courses and community prior to arrival.  However, words do not do this place justice.

Set along the Port Royal Sound in South Carolina, the facility features a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course along with a Pete Dye design.  Our first two days have been spent practicing and playing at the Pete Dye course.  20-30 mph swirling winds and the undulating greens have made the scoring challenging in our qualifying rounds on the links-style holes.  The greens could be perhaps some of the finest I have ever played on.  Running at an 11 on the stimpmeter, they roll so true that if you start it on the right line, the putt will go in the hole.  Holes 10-15 are along the marsh front and are totally exposed to the winds coming off the ocean.

While we have had full use of the practice facilities, we have been having an internal team competition on the Trackman Combine system.  Each player hits 60 shots from varying distances and with varying clubs to a target.  For each shot, you are awarded a score based upon the distance and direction from the target,  For example, if you happen to hit a 100 yards shot that exact distance and exactly on-line with the target, you would get 100 points for that shot.  Your total score for the combine is the average points from the 60 shots.  This system is used by many PGA Tour players and college golf teams.  Luke Donald is the leading PGA Tour player with 87 points.  We have had half of the team go through so far.  Jeremy Wells scored 79 points, followed by Tanner Taddeo with 76...not too shabby!

Perhaps the most unique and greatest aspect of this trip is that we are staying with host families from within the community at Colleton River.  These people have opened their homes and hearts to the players and coaches.  The opportunity to meet and get to know people from various backgrounds is a great experience for the team.  Everyone we are staying with has had an interesting life and have been very successful in their own way.  I am staying with Tom Patti who at one time was one of the best amateur players in North Carolina.  He was the low amateur in the 1984 U.S. Senior Open, finishing in the Top 10.  He has played in numerous other USGA Amateur events, along with being a 5-time champion of the Pinehurst Invitational, the predecessor of what is now the North/South Championship.  Needless to say, I am glad that he is my partner tomorrow in the team/host golf tournament and I do not have to play against him.

On Wednesday, we move over to the Nicklaus Course for some practice in the morning, followed by the team playing the Par-3 course here.  After a bite to eat, we have the team/host tournament and a banquet to wrap up the day.

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