Because so much of the game of golf is about routine, every little detail counts. From the way a golfer starts his or her morning to the way he or she sets his or her stance in the tee box, even the slightest variable could have an impact on his or her performance. This routine is amplified when the golfer is unfamiliar with the golf course.
Sophomore golfer Brandon McIver will have many of those variables taken out of the equation when he takes to the course for the U.S. Open Sectional Qualifier on Monday at the local Emerald Valley Golf Club. The familiar turf will give him a major leg up on the rest of the field — Emerald Valley is Oregon’s practice facility.
When McIver shot a four-under 68 to finish in a tie for second in the local qualifying round last month, he knew what would come next.
“I was just happy that I was able to make it to the second round,” McIver said. “Because I knew it was at Emerald Valley where we play so often.”
Those looking for evidence of the effects of home-course advantage don’t need to look further than Oregon’s performance at the NCAA West Regional held at the Eugene Country Club last month. The Ducks were the surprise of the tournament as they finished second, just one stroke behind No. 2 Stanford. McIver shot a five-over 215 to finish in a tie for eighth overall at the event.
“Seeing that I get to sleep in my own bed and go through my own routine without having to overcome any variables are huge advantages,” McIver said.
Back in 2012, Oregon head coach Casey Martin qualified for the Open at the same course and cited home-cooking as a big part of his success.
“A couple of years ago I hadn’t really been playing much and I had a wing-it kind of feeling,” Martin said. “There wasn’t a lot of pressure and fortunately I played really well. The advantage I had, and Brandon has as well, is that we’re playing a golf course we know really well.”
McIver learned to play alongside his grandfather.
“His normal foursome on a Saturday morning was three World War II veterans and a 10 year-old boy,” Bob McIver, Brandon’s father said. “I think that’s how he learned how to respect the game, and every four-letter word you don’t want a 10 year-old kid to know.”
When McIver takes the course Monday he’ll be golfing, once again, with veterans of the game of golf as the field features both amateurs and professionals alike. Despite the challenging competition, Martin thinks McIver has more than an outside shot at advancing.
“He hit the ball beautifully back at the national championship and if he hits it like that on a golf course that he knows like the back of his hand, I wouldn’t put it past him to qualify,” Martin said. “It’s going to be difficult, but he can do it.”
Follow Josh Schlichter on Twitter @joshschlichter