The Kepler Intercollegiate returns this spring (April 18-19) after a year’s absence so that Ohio State could host the Northern Intercollegiate during the 1996-97 season.
The Kepler Intercollegiate was first played in 1969. It is named for the late Robert Kepler, who served as Ohio State’s golf coach from 1938 until 1965.
Under Kepler, Ohio State built a great golfing tradition which was enhanced by an NCAA team championship in 1945, and four NCAA individual championships. One of the latter winners was Jack Nicklaus, now universally recognized as the greatest golfer the game has ever known.
Since its inception, the Kepler has been won by just four schools – Ohio State, Indiana, Kent State and Miami (Ohio). The Buckeyes have won the title 19 times, including six straight between 1974 and ’79 and nine consecutive between 1981 and ’89.
At the last Kepler Intercollegiate in 1996, the Buckeyes captured the team title on their home course and Ohio State’s Matt Minister took individual medalist honors, posting a four round total of 224.
The Kepler is played on the Ohio State Scarlet Course. The 7,102-yard, par 72 course hosted the 1995 NCAA Championships as well as the 1997 NCAA women’s Championships.
Established in 1938, the Ohio State University Scarlet Golf Course is rated the best collegiate facility in the country by Golf Digest, and ranked 81st among all golf courses in the United States.
Located two miles northwest of the main campus at the corner of Kenny and Tremont Roads, the Par 72 course carries a rating of 73.9 with a slope of 125. From the championship tees, it stretches out to 7,100 yards of rolling terrain, and contains a 9 1/2-acre lake and stream that creates challenging play on several holes. The large contoured greens are surrounded by strategically placed bunkers, adding to the difficulty of the course.
Besides the Scarlet Course, the University Golf Club boasts a second course, the Gray Course, a pro shop, a tavern, a restaurant, a driving range, numerous practice greens and the OSU Men’s and Women’s Golf coaches’ office.
The Scarlet Course has been host to tournaments such as the USGA Junior Championship, U.S. Open Qualifier, Kepler Intercollegiate, Northern Intercollegiate, Rolex Fall Preview, PING/Golfweek Preview, Big Ten Championship and the NCAA Championship. In 1995, it hosted the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship for a record ninth time, and in 1997, the NCAA Women’s Championship for the third time. The 1995 men’s tournament went down in NCAA history as the first time a playoff was needed to decide the champion. In the playoff, Oklahoma State defeated a Stanford team led by Tiger Woods.
The Ohio State golf facility has been home to numerous Buckeyes who have gone on to the PGA Tour, including such greats as Jack Nicklaus, Joey Sindelar, John Cook, Clark Burroughs, Chris Perry, Ted Tryba and Tom Weiskopf. The course was designed by famed architect Dr. Alister MacKenzie, who also designed Augusta National Golf Club, the nation’s most famous course, and home of The Masters Tournament.
The noncompetitive Scarlet Course record of 64 has been matched three times. Former Ohio State coach Robert Kepler set the record originally, and it has been tied by former Buckeye and current PGA Tour member Joey Sindelar, and also by former OSU golfer Mitch Camp. Three golfers also hold the competitive Scarlet Course record of 66. Former OSU great and PGA Tour member Clark Burroughs shares the honor with former Fresno State golfer Tim Norris and former Oklahoma State golfer Brian Watts.
As is the case on any championship caliber course, the ball must be driven straight off the tee in order to be successful. Though the length of the Scarlet Course, combined with its difficulty can prove extremely frustrating at times, patience and a level head can usually get a good golfer through the rough spots.
Hole # 1, 430 yards, Par 4
A slight dogleg right. Avoid the pine trees on the right and the mounds on the left. A good drive will leave you a 150 to 190 yard shot to one of the deepest greens on the course. A sand trap on the front right protects the front of the green while sand traps to the back left and right protect the back half of the green.
Hole # 2, 437 yards, Par 4
The most difficult hole on the course. A very narrow tee shot must find its way between a group of large trees on the right and a fairway bunker on the left. Even after a well placed drive, an approach shot from about 190 yards remains. A large green, unguarded in front, allows you to bounce your second shot onto the green. Once on the putting surface, the entire green slopes from the back right corner to the front left, making for some testy two putts.
Hole # 3, 412 yards, Par 4
A slight dogleg to the left. This hole is tougher than it looks. The corner of the dogleg is right at the driving area, so you must be careful not to hit your tee shot through the fairway into the trees on the right. Your second shot from 140 to 160 yards can be an aggressive one as long as you avoid ending up too far over the green.
Hole # 4, 530 yards, Par 5
A solid tee shot down the left side of the fairway will catch a down slant and reward you with a little extra roll. Your second shot can either be a lay-up short of the creek or a long iron or wood over the creek up to within 80 yards of the green. A lay-up will leave you approximately 150 yards to a long, thin green protected by a sand trap in front and another one behind the green. An aggressive second shot advancing you somewhere up by the green will leave you with a delicate pitch shot or touchy sand shot to a flag stick that may be positioned at the base of a knoll running along the front of the green.
Hole # 5, 233 yards, Par 3
This long par three usually requires a long iron or wood to a green well guarded by four sand traps. An opening in front of the green allows a low shot to freely bounce onto the putting surface. Any shot that ends up on the green is a successful one.
Hole # 6, 570 yards, Par 5
A slight dogleg right. A well placed drive will put you between a fairway bunker on the left and a row of trees which line the entire right side of the hole. Your second shot will be played with the most accurate long iron or fairway wood in your bag. This shot must remain in the fairway, avoiding the trees on the right and left. After two solid shots you’ll be left with a wedge or nine iron to a slightly elevated green which makes your approach shot play a little longer than the yardage indicates.
Hole # 7, 389 yards, Par 4
A fairway bunker across most of the fairway forces you to either lay-up short with a fairway wood or attempt to carry bunker with your driver. Carrying the bunker requires a drive of at least 240 yards in the air. A lay-up will leave you with a shot of about 160 yards to a green with sand traps on both the left and right. If you successfully carry the bunker with your tee shot, you’ll be left with a wedge to the green and a good chance for a birdie.
Hole # 8, 187 yards, Par 3
The ball must travel over water to a green that is well guarded by three sand traps. The green on this hole slopes from back to front, so you should avoid hitting your approach shot long into the back sand trap or left into the heavy rough.
Hole #9, 417 yards, Par 4
The tee shot will be directed down the fairway between a bunker in the left rough and a large tree in the right rough. A solid tee shot will put you near the 150 yard marker. Your second shot will be played to the deepest green on the course, with a steep slope from back to front. The pin placement will alter your strategy. With a back pin placement you may be better off just over the green and chipping for birdie, rather than being on the front part of the green, facing a 60 or 70 foot putt. With a front pin placement, the same theory applies, you’d rather be short of the green than on the back part of the green facing a difficult two putt.
Hole # 10, 416 yards, Par 4
A pretty straight forward hole. A good drive on this hole will find its way up to a plateau between a group of trees in the right rough, and several fairway bunkers in the left rough. After a well played tee shot, you’ll be faced with a second shot of about 160 yards down a slight hill to a fairly large green. Greenside bunkers to the left, right and behind the green catch most shots which fail to find this slightly sloped, back to front green. Hole # 11, 423 yards, Par 4
One of the most difficult and also the most picturesque hole on the course. Your tee shot over a valley of wildflowers should favor the right side of the hole. This will help you avoid the left rough which drops down into either the trees and heavy rough, or a fairway bunker. A second shot from around 180 yards is to a very wide green which is also the flattest green on the course. The flatness of this green makes it difficult to determine the depth of the pin, increasing the difficulty of hitting an iron close.
Hole # 12, 546 yards, Par 5
A drive down the right side will cut off a little bit of the slight dogleg right and shorten the hole. A long hitter may be able to carry the creek in front of the green in two, getting a second shot up to the elevated green. A lay-up on your second shot is down the hill to a flat spot short of the creek. From the bottom of the hill, you’ll be faced with a sand wedge from about 80 yards to a highly elevated green. On this quick, firm green which slopes from back to front, you will want to putt from below the hole.
Hole # 13, 202 yards, Par 3
From an elevated tee, this downhill par three usually plays a little shorter than the yardage indicates. A creek 25 yards short of the green does not come into play, however sand traps short left and short right of the green seem to catch most shots that fail to find the putting surface.
Hole # 14, 489 yards, Par 5
From the back tee, this hole plays as a slight dogleg to the right. A well hit tee shot between the mounds on the right and the fairway bunker on the left could leave you with a decision to make. A second shot from around 240 yards can either be played for the green or safely laid up short of a sand trap in front of the green, clear of a group of large pine trees in the right rough. This narrow green is 36 yards deep, which giving you have plenty of room to hit a long iron or fairway wood. If you decide to lay-up, you’ll be left with just a wedge or a sand wedge, and a good birdie opportunity.
Hole # 15, 428 yards, Par 4
The famous “O” bunker out in the right rough can be avoided by playing a right to left tee shot on this hole. A well placed drive will leave about 150 yards to the green. This middle to short iron shot will be hit to a slightly elevated green, guarded on both sides by sand traps. A tee shot hit through this slight dogleg left into the right rough, will be faced with a difficult shot over a sand trap to a firm green that doesn’t hold rough shots very well. It also drops off behind the green leaving a shot long of the green with tough up and down.
Hole # 16, 379 yards, Par 4
Appears to be just another short par 4 until you stand up on the tee and stare down the fairway which is lined with trees on the right and a hazard on the left. A tee shot that finds it’s way into the fairway will be left a second shot of about 120 yards. This shot will be played to a severely sloped green with several little shelves, making for some interesting pin placements and difficult putts.
Hole # 17, 207 yards, Par 3
The hole is played from an elevated tee, down and back up to an elevated green. A successful tee shot must carry all 207 yards of this hole up to the middle of the green. Shots that miss to the right or to the left will find their way into the two sand traps guarding this rather large green. Shots that come up short must be careful of the back to front slope of this green which leads right off the front edge and down the hill.
Hole # 18, 414 yards, Par 4
A great finishing hole. A tee shot towards two tall trees through the fairway, avoiding the fairway bunker in the right rough, will put you in good position right at the corner of this sharp dogleg left. Your second shot needs to find its way onto the large green. Sand traps guard the front right and left portions of the green.