Charlotte golf begins its 2012-13 season this weekend, competing in a star-studded field at the Gopher Invitational, hosted by the University of Minnesota. A 15-team field, including 11 teams that made the NCAA postseason this spring, will take to Spring Hill Golf Club Wayzata, Minnesota for two rounds Sunday and a final round Monday.
The 49ers have been paired with Iowa and Lamar in the opening 36 holes, with the field teeing off at 8:30 in a shotgun start. Charlotte's groups will start on the course's final three holes in each round, with the afternoon round slated to tee off at 1:30 p.m.
Charlotte will be fielding a younger team this season, taking junior Joe Toland (White River Junction, Vt.), sophomore Raoul Menard (Ange-Gardier, Quebec), junior transfer Franco Castro (Alpharetta, Ga.) and freshmen Riley Davenport (Woodstock, Ga.) and Daniel Hendry (Dubai, United Arab Emirates) to the North Star State.
"We'll be young," said second-year Charlotte head coach Ryan Cabbage. "A couple of freshmen will be playing in their first college event this weekend, but the scorecard doesn't know who is entering in the score."
The par-72 course plays at 7,020 yards, and features a par-fives of 570 and 590 yards in length.
"We're excited to play in this tournament," said Cabbage. "The level of energy these guys bring every day is encouraging as a coach. Our qualifying rounds saw lower and lower scores as we went through it."
Four of the 15 teams won their league's golf title last season, with six teams in the field earning a trip to NCAA National Championships in June.
"This a NCAA Regional-level field," noted Cabbage. "This is the kind of field we need to see to prepare for May and June and we welcome the early challenge. Our guys are not going to shy away from this kind of competition."
Four of the teams in the field have won the Gopher Invitational including the host Gophers in 2005, Lamar in 2007, SMU in 2009 and Arkansas last year.