No. 11 Texas A&M men’s golf team is set to host its only home tournament of the season starting Friday, April 9, at Traditions Club.
The Aggie Invitational will be the first time since 2018 the team has hosted at home after canceling last year due to COVID-19 and the previous year due to weather. Expectations are for a much different look and feel than the previous tournaments played at Traditions Club, with players noting the course recently hired Zach Elias as its new superintendent. Elias prefers the course firm compared to a long, soft and wet course the Traditions is most well known for, the golfers said.
Senior Walker Lee said there’s an advantage to getting to play on Traditions everyday but is interested to see how the course plays under tournament conditions.
“It’s going to be completely different than anything we’ve ever played,” Lee said. “It’s only been firm for about a week so we’ve really only had a week and a half worth of practice on it, but we definitely have an advantage on other teams who haven’t seen it like this.”
Lee’s first and only time playing the Aggie Invitational was in 2018 as an individual when he was a co-medalist with former teammate Chandler Phillips. Looking forward to playing in front of the home crowd April 9-11 and defending his individual crown in good weather, Lee said he remembers the tough conditions last time he played in this tournament.
“The weather was about 40 degrees, rainy, windy and nasty,” Lee said. “I shot 6-under the first two rounds and was winning by five. That shows how bad the weather was.”
Junior Sam Bennett said he has not gotten to experience a full Aggie Invitational tournament in his three years at A&M. Playing a college tournament on his home course is a dream come true, Bennett said, and added he is “super pumped.”
“I’ve been looking forward to the Aggie [Invitational] ever since I committed to A&M,” Bennett, a Madisonville native, said “I’ve been playing at Traditions since I was 13.”
Bennett is fresh off playing with PGA tour golfers Roger Sloan and Rhein Gibson for two rounds at last week’s Valero Texas Open in San Antonio. He shot an 80 in the first round and 72 his second round. Although missing the cut was not the outcome he wanted, Bennett said it was still a great experience.
“Being out there with the pros and teeing it up with them and having a great time with my brother on the bag, it was an awesome experience I won’t forget,” Bennett said. “I wish it could’ve turned out a little better, but hopefully it won’t be my last PGA tour start.”
The Aggie Invitational will have another solid field with a majority of Texas schools. Top teams other than Texas A&M include No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 8 Texas and No. 25 Texas Tech.
Winning any tournament is difficult and doesn’t happen often, but A&M coach Brian Kortan said winning on home turf means a lot to this team.
“We’ve got a lot of seniors that have spent a lot of time here and guys like Sammy that have never played in an Aggie,” Kortan said. “It’d mean a lot for these guys to win this tournament and do a lot for their confidence moving forward.”
The Aggie Invitational at Traditions Club in Bryan will be open to the public free of charge. Play will begin at 8:15 a.m. on Friday and 7:30 a.m. for Saturday and Sunday. The Aggies will be paired with Sooners and Longhorns for Friday’s round. Live scoring can be found at golfstat.com.