Participating in the Carpet Capital Collegiate is strictly by invitation only.
The list of NCAA men's golf teams participating is short in length but deep in talent, as is the group of past medalists -- including PGA Tour event winners Stewart Cink, Lucas Glover, Tim Clark, Bill Haas and Chris Kirk -- since the tournament's inception in 1989 at The Farm Golf Club in Rocky Face, Ga.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga first received an invitation in 2007, won the tournament in 2008 and returns for a fifth straight year with competition beginning today.
"When they started, they went out to get the best teams in the country," UTC coach Mark Guhne said. "They've been successful at doing that, and it's one that coaches want an invitation to. It's nice that it's local, and it's a great place for us to get started every year."
The Mocs were spurred to victory in 2008 when then-freshman Stephan Jaeger scored a hole-in-one on No. 8 in the final round. He remembers the impact of that shot more than the hole location.
"We weren't playing well that day after leading through two days," Jaeger said. "I aced No. 8 and I think that got us back on track. We played a lot better on the second nine. Golf is such a mental event that just hearing about that event helped us."
Jaeger, the Mocs' lone senior, will be joined by junior Steven Fox and sophomores Davis Bunn, Chris Robb and Benni Weilguni this weekend at The Farm.
Last season, Jaeger had most of the captain's duties as the only upperclassman. This year, Fox can help in that role, and the rest of the Mocs -- except for freshman Liam Johnston, who was No. 2 on Scotland's boys' order of merit -- are familiar with UTC routines and practice schedules.
"Last year was Jaeger's year to be in charge of the team, and he did a really good job," Guhne said. "He knows now that everything doesn't fall on his shoulders, which is going to take pressure off of him. And with three sophomores who played every tournament last year ... I'm excited about what's going to happen."
This year's Carpet Capital Collegiate also includes defending champion Alabama plus LSU, Georgia, Auburn, Clemson, Tennessee, Georgia Tech, South Carolina, Wake Forest, Middle Tennessee State and Kennessaw State.
"It's one of those tournaments where you get a good feel of where you're at," Guhne said. "It's one of the best tournaments in college golf, and it will be good to see where we stack up."
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...