The Quail Valley Invitational

“Success in this game depends less on strength of body than strength of mind and character.” – Arnold Palmer

The men of Jacksonville University golf prepare for their next outing at the Quail Valley Invitational in Vero Beach, Fla.

After winning it’s first tournament at the GolfWeek Challenge in South Carolina back on Sept. 11, the team hopes to come out on top again. The Quail Valley Invitational is the fourth tournament men’s golf will be participating in. The first round of play will be on Oct. 24. They have taken first, second, and seventh place in their previous matches and look to keep the winning ways alive.

“We are preparing with practices five times a week, with two practices at our campus facility and three sessions at TPC Sawgrass,” says senior David Wicks.

Hurricane Matthew, the Category 4 hurricane that swept across Jacksonville, made practice on full courses almost impossible. With most local golf courses closed during the storm the men’s golf team made due with what they had.

“The hurricane had some of the courses shut down so we improvised with our on campus facility and are working hard to be sharp for this up coming event,” says head coach Mike Blackburn.

Also attending the tournament will be local rival University of North Florida, a conference foe. Last year in the same tournament North Florida took fourth place with eight under par, four spots above JU.

“Our biggest competition is with UNF,” says Wicks, “They are one of the best teams in our conference along with ourselves. They are common opponents that we play both no and in the spring.”

Last year JU placed seventh after shooting one over par. Sophomore Tanner Thompson can’t wait to show that last year’s result can be built on.

“Last year we were disappointed in our play,” says Thompson, “Some teams just out shot us and we deserved where we fell. This year we think our individual and team preparation will put us in contention.”

Wicks knows the team is important, but in a sport like golf, personal preparation is paramount. Coaches help to break down player’s technique and improve during the week.

“I need to work on my driving before the next tournament,” says Wicks, “The last tournament I played in my coach noticed some technical issues I was having that caused my drives to go to the right. So I have been working double time to correct this,” says Wicks.

Blackburn has taken notice to the kind of team he has this year and says he knows he has something special both on and off the golf course.

“Our strong asset is team spirit,” says Blackburn, “We have nine guys who get along like brothers. They have a special bond that is very hard to break, and they go the extra mile for each other,” says Blackburn.

This upcoming tournament will end the team’s fall schedule making Blackburn even more excited to arrive and do well to lead up for the season in the spring.

“Our team goal is to win conference, then perform at regionals, before making it to the national championship.”