• The absolute best thing about campus golf is that anyone can play.
    LGirod | Shutterstock.com

Golf is more than just hooking a drive into a nearby pool, breaking a 9-iron over your knee, and swearing that you’ll never play this sport again. Golf is about taking the time out of your day to enjoy a nice, friendly competition with your closest friends outside in Mother Nature. Playing a round of golf weekly, however, is just not a feasible task, especially for college students. Considering the high price tag on a round of golf in relation to the lack of money in an average college student’s wallet, students need a cheaper and more accessible alternative to practice their golf game.

This is what campus golf was born from. A fun, free, and faster alternative to a normal round of golf, campus golf has been a tradition at Southwestern University for well over 20 years and has given students of all skill levels the opportunity to enjoy a quick round with their friends. With picturesque views of the Southwestern University campus, campus golf is a great way for students to unwind after a challenging week of classes at SU. So grab a tennis ball (the tennis courts always have extras laying around), your favorite golf club (yes, your roommate will be OK with you borrowing one), and some friends (I can’t help you here), and get ready for a truly unforgettable golf experience.

The origins of campus golf

Campus golf at Southwestern University has humble origins in a love for golf and the camaraderie that comes with it. The story that has been passed down is that a charter bus driving through Georgetown to buy some tacos at San Pedro Limon’s broke down in front of Southwestern University’s campus. The people on the bus stepped out to check what was wrong with the bus. These people included a relatively unknown, up-and-coming 19-year-old golfer named Tiger Woods; a long-drive champion who played golf with a hockey stick named Happy Gilmore; and a former basketball player and avid golfer who just returned to Earth after experiencing a traumatic accident (in which he got lassoed down a golf hole into the Looney Tunes world, where he then helped the Looney Tunes characters defeat the Monstars in a basketball game), Michael Jordan. It has been said that their bus was stuck in front of campus for hours, with no sign of the bus being fixed in their near future. So these three decided to grab a golf club out of their bags (or a hockey stick in Gilmore’s case), snatch a tennis ball from the Marvin D. Henderson Tennis Courts, and proceed to play the “first” ever round of campus golf. Legend has it that Woods’s fist pump was born after he knocked a hole in one off of Cullen, Happy’s anger issues were resolved here, and Michael’s desire to return to basketball was realized after he bet all his money on this one round of golf and proceeded to lose it all in the span of one hour. As you can see, campus golf has humble origins in the passion for playing golf and enjoying time with some close friends. 

Tennis balls only

Campus golf is to be played ONLY with tennis balls and NOT real golf balls. This is the most important rule when it comes to campus golf. No student wants to be hit by an actual golf ball as they’re walking to class after you shank a drive, and STEM professors will not appreciate a golf ball flying through one of the windows of the new Fondren–Jones Science Center. Using tennis balls instead of golf balls is more practical and much safer in a much more condensed environment.

A tennis ball also offers a lot more room for error, so even if you’re terrible at golf, your tennis ball won’t change direction in the air too much, which will allow you to keep your sanity for the time being. 

Make it your own

The beauty of campus golf is that there are no set holes throughout campus. Campus golf allows students to utilize their own creativity to make their own holes and design their own golf course. Simply drop your tennis ball down, pick out a target about 100 yards away (tree trunks work perfectly), and start swinging away. You can make the holes as difficult or as easy as you would like. You can hit your ball over the fountains near the Academic Mall and knock your tennis ball off the Texas Historical Landmark near the street, or you can just hit it straight and knock your tennis ball off the base of a tree. That’s the cool thing about campus golf. The course that you play and the stroke limits are all up to you and your friends. 

Closer to golf than you think

A lot of you may be thinking at this point, “But this isn’t real golf. There are no hazards, golf carts, or alligators lurking in a lake ready to eat me because the ball that I just shanked hit them.” I understand your concerns, but please consider this: 

  • There are enough trees, fountains, and students around campus that could act as hazards in and of themselves.
  • If you really need a golf cart to play, then just ask one of the friendly maintenance workers for a quick ride to your ball when they drive by.
  • Hit your tennis ball off of Monstrance, and you’ll wish we had alligators on campus. See what happens to you.

Campus golf is closer to playing a real round of golf than you think. Although you’re using a tennis ball and only carrying one club, you’re still practicing your golf swing, analyzing the types of shots that you could hit, and enjoying some quality time with your friends. Think about it this way: you won’t lose nearly as many balls playing campus golf as you would playing regular golf … and yes, I know you lose a lot of golf balls, too. 

Anyone can play

The absolute best thing about campus golf is that anyone can play. You don’t have to be a collegiate golfer or have numerous years of playing experience to enjoy a quick round. You can be the worst golfer in the world, and you can still have an enjoyable time getting in a round of campus golf with your friends. That is the core of what campus golf is about: a free activity for college students that requires no travel and no previous experience but can still be an enjoyable time with friends.  

Run it back

If you didn’t do as well as you thought, that’s perfectly fine! Campus golf isn’t designed to make you angry, break clubs, or curse to the heavens for making you terrible at golf. Campus golf was made for Southwestern students to take some time off from whatever is bothering them in life, and grab some friends to play a quick (and free) round of golf. So, no matter your skill level, grab your favorite club, a tennis ball, and some friends, and just go out and enjoy some campus golf.