STORRS, Conn. - Coming off one of the most successful seasons in the history of the program, UConn men's golf coach Dave Pezzino has announced a challenging, 12-event schedule for the 2017-18 year. The Huskies will compete in five events during the fall semester, including the 9th year of their own Connecticut Cup, and seven tournaments in the spring, including the American Athletic Conference Championship.
"The 2017-18 schedule continues our focus of challenging our team with a highly-competitive experience," said Pezzino, heading into his 11th season as head coach. "Our guys play a demanding summer schedule, so this fits into the culture of our program. I am excited to see them tested against some of the finest college teams on some of the best golf courses in the country."
UConn, which won three tournaments and had eight Top Five finishes last year, opens the new schedule on Sept. 9-10 with the Doc Gimmler Invitational, hosted by St. John's, at Bethpage State Park Red Course in Farmingdale, N.Y. UConn junior co-captain Jimmy Hervol (Hopkinton, Mass.) is the defending medalist in the event, where the Huskies finished fourth last season.
"It's a great test for us right off the bat," Pezzino said. "Bethpage Red is a course you have to go low on, especially against the strong field that will be there."
The Huskies will then move on to the Hartford Hawks Invitational on Sept. 18-19 at Bull's Bridge Golf Club in South Kent, Conn., a tournament they have not missed since its inception.
"The course sets up well for our team," Pezzino said, "and Hartford does a real nice job running the event. We're happy to be able to compete in it every year."
For the third consecutive season, UConn will travel to The Prairie Club in Valentine, Neb., to play in the Jackrabbit Fall Invitational, hosted by South Dakota State, on Oct. 1-3.
""The strength of the field in that tournament and the opportunity to play a links style golf course in the middle of the United States provides a tremendous learning experience for our team," Pezzino said. "We get to see some teams we don't normally see, which gives us a good barometer on where we stand nationally."
On Oct. 9-10, the Huskies will host the Connecticut Cup at Ellington Ridge Country Club for the ninth straight year.
"Certainly, our relationship with Ellington Ridge is extremely important to our program," Pezzino said. "It's going to be exciting to work with Chris Bland, the new golf professional there. The course just hosted the Connecticut Open and the Travelers qualifiers. Obviously, Ellington Ridge is a tremendous test of golf and being able to run a tournament on that golf course is an important part of the culture of our program."
The Huskies wrap up the fall portion of their schedule on Nov. 3-5 with the likely longest trip in the program's history as they compete for the first time in the University of Hawaii's Ka'anapali Classic Collegiate Invitational at the Ka'anapali Royal Course in Maui, Hawaii.
"Trying to take our team to experience other parts of the United States has been a goal that you can see when you look at our schedule," Pezzino said. "We're playing in the Midwest, in Florida, the Southwest, and now in Hawaii. The strength of the field in Hawaii is probably as close to a (NCAA) regional as you can get and the opportunity for us to compete there was so exciting and so important to help grow our program."
UConn begins the spring portion of its schedule on Feb. 24-26, with a return to the Loyola Intercollegiate tourney, hosted by Loyola-Maryland, at the Palm Valley Golf Course in Goodyear, Ariz. The event was one of the three tournaments the Huskies won last year.
Loyola-Maryland will also host the next event for the Huskies, who will compete for the first time in the Fort Lauderdale Intercollegiate at Fort Lauderdale Country Club in Florida on March 5-6.
Another first-time event for the Huskies will be the Lamkin Grips San Diego Classic, set for March 12-13 at the San Diego Country Club in Chula Vista, Calif., jointly hosted by the University of San Diego and San Diego State.
"The opportunity to play in a highly-competitive event, on a great course, and over spring break, which gives our players the chance to practice out there after the tournament, were big factors in selecting that event," Pezzino said.
UConn has competed in Florida Atlantic University's FAU Slomin Autism Championship for many years, but this season it will be held on a different course, the Osprey Point Golf Course in Boca Raton, Fla., on March 23-25.
On April 1-2, the Huskies will defend another tournament title they won last year, at the Coca-Cola Lehigh Valley Collegiate, hosted by Lafayette College, at Silver Creek Country Club in Hellertown, Pa.
UConn's regular season will conclude on April 13-15 with another first-time event for the program in the Clemson Invitational at the Cliffs at Keowee Falls, S.C.
"What a great opportunity for us to compete against some of the finest collegiate golf teams in the country," Pezzino said. "It's the kind of tremendous competitive experience we're looking for."
Postseason play starts with the American Athletic Conference Championship, on April 22-25 at the Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla. The NCAA Tournament will have regional play on May 14-16 at sites to be announced, while the NCAA National Championship is set for May 25-30 in Stillwater, Okla.
"We're doing the same thing in the spring as we do in the fall, trying to test our players in different parts of the U.S.," Pezzino said. "We want to be able to gauge our program against other teams throughout the country, so it's important to take the team to places where we don't normally see certain teams."