Rio Verde to Host Top Women’s College Golf Teams at Rio Verde Invitational

rio verde

(RIO VERDE, Ariz.)Rio Verde Community and Country Club – the award-winning residential enclave northeast of Scottsdale – will host the 2016 Rio Verde Invitational February 26-28 on its Tom Lehman-designed courses.

 The 2016 Rio Verde Invitational field boasts 17 top women’s college golf teams, including host Western Michigan University and 2015 tournament champion Seton Hall. Also in the field: Akron, Arkansas State, University of Arkansas-Little Rock, Ball State, Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, Illinois State, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Missouri State, Northern Arizona, Northern Illinois, Ohio, Toledo, Wichita State and Xavier.

 “We are honored to once again be the host venue for the Rio Verde Invitational,” says Ken Kelley, General Manager of Rio Verde Country Club. “The entire community joins together in supporting this annual event and enjoys watching the women compete on our challenging courses. We wish all the women the best of luck.”

 Rio Verde has hosted the tournament since its inception in 2001 on its two 18-hole, par-72 courses – Quail Run and White Wing. Both layouts recently underwent a $6 million renovation by The Lehman Design Group, yet retained their “soft desert” playability and decidedly different design characteristics. Playing to 6,602 yards, Quail Run is traditional and reminiscent of America’s great Midwestern golf venues. White Wing (6,535 yards) sports a slight modern flair, with fairway mounding, open green fronts and deeper bunkering.

 Seton Hall won the 2015 Rio Verde Invitational (in March) by four shots over Toledo and Northern Arizona. Teammates Alison Kruse and Erin McClure of Seton Hall shared medalist honors, both shooting a cumulative 54-hole total of 2-over-par 218. Originally known as the “East/West Rio Verde Invitational,” the tournament moved from a 36-hole to a 54-hole format in 2005.

 “Western Michigan University is once again pleased to host the annual Rio Verde Tournament,” says Stacy Snider, head coach of the Broncos women’s golf team. “This tournament features several top notch collegiate women’s golf programs and is held at one of the premier golf clubs in the Southwest. The staff at the Rio Verde Country Club has done a great job making this an enjoyable experience for all the golfers and fans as well. We are looking forward to another competitive field this season.”

 Visitors of the tournament can stay at Rio Verde through the community’s Discovery Stay Program. Guests can rent private vacation homes and learn about membership opportunities and all the wonderful amenities and exciting activities found at the club.

 For more information on Rio Verde, visit www.rioverdearizona.com.

 About Rio Verde Community and Country Club

 Rio Verde is located in northeastern Maricopa County in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains at the edge of the Tonto National Forest. The award-winning, country club community features 36 holes of parkland-style golf, a par-3 course and world-class practice facilities, tennis, Pickleball, hiking / walking trails, fitness center, Saddle Club and other amenities.

 Comprising 980 custom-built homes, town-homes and villas ranging from less than $200,000 to over $1 million, Rio Verde is a low-density, master-planned enclave with large lots highlighted by golf course, mountain or desert views. Its low taxes, competitive real estate prices and tranquil location appeal to primary and vacation home owners. Rio Verde is just 30 minutes from the world-famous Mayo Clinic (Scottsdale campus) and 35 minutes from both Honor Health facilities at Shea Medical Center and Thompson Peak Medical Center.

 The 27,000-square foot contemporary, southwestern-style clubhouse is the center of Rio Verde social life, offering a wide variety of dining options and activities. Hearth-fired, homemade pizza and other casual fare is available at the Verde Pub, while fine dining in the Copper Room offers members access to professional chefs and world-class service.

 Follow Rio Verde on Twitter: @RioVerdeArizona.

College of Coastal Georgia repeats at NAIA golf national champion

The College of Coastal Georgia men’s golf team is once again the national champion.

Taking a 16-stroke lead to the course Friday in the final round of the 2015 NAIA Men’s Golf National Championship, all that was left for the top-ranked Mariners was to seal the deal, and they did, closing with a 3-over-par 291 score over the final 18 holes on the Hills Course at LPGA International which was good for a convincing 11-shot victory over third-ranked William Woods (Mo.) which finished as the runner-up.

The final-round score gave the Mariners a 7-under 1,145 total for the four-day, 72-hole event in which they led from start to finish on their way to a second straight national championship.

“It’s amazing,” said Coastal Georgia coach Mike Cook. “I never would have thought this when we started the program five years ago. The goal from the beginning was to recruit the best players possible and try to win a national championship. Now, we’ve won two in a row. That’s just special.”

The Mariners are now 2-for-2 at the national tournament. Last year, they won the school’s first-ever national crown in any sport with a come-from-behind victory in the final round, erasing a six-shot deficit to win by four strokes over defending national champion and perennial power Oklahoma City.

The Stars were the last team to repeat as national champions as they won the title in 2012 and 2013 before the Mariners claimed the national crown last season in their first appearance at the national tournament.

Last year’s championship was also played at LPGA International, but was contested on the Jones Course at the same facility.

With this week’s wire-to-wire victory at the national tournament, the Mariners won for the eighth time this season in 10 tournaments. The eight wins is a school-record, surpassing the five the Mariners posted last season while claiming the national championship.

The only two times they didn’t win, the Mariners were second at the Dave Adamonis Sr. Invitational hosted by Johnson & Wales in late October and third at the Southern States Athletic Conference tournament in April.

At the league tournament, the Mariners finished just four shots behind conference champion Dalton State and were two back of runner-up Mobile.

“Eight out of 10, that’s just good golf,” said senior Alastair Tidcombe when asked to put the entire season in perspective. “We’ve joked about being a dynasty, but we just push each other every tournament. As a team, we wanted to have the best round of the day in every tournament we played. When that is your goal every round, you have a chance to come out pretty good in the end.”

In this week’s national championship, the Mariners placed three players in the top 15 in the individual standings which landed all three players on the All-Tournament Team. Tidcombe and fellow senior Hunter Cornelius tied for fourth overall at 5-under 283 for the championship.

Also, senior Alan Bradford finished tied for 13th at 2-over 290 for the tournament. Bradford also made the tournament team last spring when he led the Mariners to their first national crown by finishing fourth in the individual standings.

Also for the Mariners, Coastal Georgia junior Trevor Smith tied for 46th at 8-over 296 and senior Alan Barnhardt tied for 58th at 11-over 299.
At the post-tournament awards ceremony, Cook was named the NAIA Coach of the Year while Tidcombe, Bradford and Cornelius were also named NAIA Ping First-Team All-Americans by the Golf Coaches Association of America.

Cornelius and Bradfordwere all in the lineup last season when the Mariners won the national championship along with Smith.

“The feeling is similar,” said Cornelius, who shot a team-best 68 in the final round, when asked to describe his emotions after winning again. “It’s just a little sweeter this year. Now, I know what (seniors) Dylan (Freeman) and Chase (Miller) felt like last year going out on top. This is just an awesome team.”

And, the Mariners are once again a national championship-winning team.