Make no mistake, we're in the heart of football season. Basketball is around the corner. But the Marquette University men's golf team and Erin Hills have teamed to host some of the nation's best collegiate golfers this weekend at the future U.S. Open site.
The Golden Eagles are the host program at the Erin Hills Intercollegiate, which begins competition Sunday through Tuesday.
This is the first college tournament hosted by Erin Hills, which hosted the 2011 U.S. Amateur and is the site of the 2017 U.S. Open will present an incredible challenge to these players, which includes reigning U.S. Amateur champ Evan Fitzgerald of Northwestern University.
Now, this type of thing might not normally pop up on your sporting radar, or be something you think about going to, but if you love golf (and many of you do) it's worth making the trip.
1. You get to see Erin Hills in a championship setup after it's matured a bit. The course was stressed to the max just to host the U.S. Amateur, whereas now there have been two years of growth leading up to this.
2. Chances are, some of these players will be making names for themselves on the PGA Tour within the next two years, and maybe by the time the U.S. Open comes back in 2017.
3. You get an opportunity to support amateur golf. Now, these guys play a game we're unfamiliar with. They're given access to courses and equipment we aren't. But, they still are amateurs, and most won't be touring professionals. This is a great chance to see guys play for their schools, and for the love of the game.
The other thing I like most about this event is the initiative Erin Hills management is taking in giving up its course and preparing a championship for an amateur event. Also, I give them and Marquette University credit for bringing these warm weather programs to the Midwest. Too often our region is disparaged in terms of quality of golf, and the quality of golfers we produce.
It's just a perception, but often that perception becomes a reality to many.
No one thinks there will be thousands upon thousands out at Erin Hills over the next four days, but it's a great opportunity to get out of the house, see some really, really good golf and walk a beautiful piece of property.
Need to know
Admission: Free all three days of the event, as well as the practice rounds on Saturday.
Format: Teams will play 18 holes daily, with groups starting off of the first tee beginning at 8:30 a.m. Central time on Sunday.
Notable teams: No. 6 Oklahoma, No. 11 Stanford, No. 31 SMU and No. 45 Oregon State. UCLA, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern and DePaul are also in the 14-team field. State competitors include the University of Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
Notable individuals: World No. 1 amateur Matt Fitzpatrick (Northwestern) and world No. 4 Patrick Rodgers (Stanford). Other top players include Cameron Wilson (Stanford), Bryson Dechambeau (SMU), Chris O'Neill (Michigan) and Max McGreevy (Oklahoma).
Follow: Fans can track the scoring live by clicking here.
Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.
A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.
To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.
Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining OnMilwaukee.com.
In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.
Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.