The Reserve Prepares for Fifth Annual Clemson Invitational Women’s Golf Tournament
Crisp mountain air, a gentle breeze off the lake, a chorus of songbirds–and the thwack of a golf ball off the tee. It must be spring at the Reserve at Lake Keowee, host of the Clemson Invitational Women’s Golf Tournament.
The fifth-annual event will tee off on the Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course from March 27-29, with 18 teams competing for the title.
“One of the unique things about the event is that teams stay on-site in private homes and eat all their meals at The Reserve,” said Clemson women’s golf coach Kelley Hester. “It truly is a destination event.”
Notre Dame is one of four teams participating for the first time. The others are the University of Maryland, Old Dominion University and Princeton University.
“I accepted the invite because I heard many great things about the event, ranging from the venue to the amazing private housing that is provided and to the outstanding field that this event attracts each year,” said Fighting Irish coach Susan Holt.
Wonderful experiences led Virginia Tech to return for a third time. “We really enjoy the set-up of this event,” said Virginia Tech coach Carol Robertson. “We have been graciously hosted by a Hokie who lives in The Reserve [Les and Jean Borden]. That makes the entire experience that much better because of his connection to our school. This tournament has a great reputation, which attracts a competitive field year after year.”
The field features five teams ranked in the Top 50, led by No. 17 Michigan State and No. 21 Vanderbilt. The Spartans, Commodores and the University of North Carolina-Wilmington have never missed the event.
“We have been to every Clemson Invitational since the tournament was created a few years ago,” said Vanderbilt coach Greg Allen. “Once we got there, met our host family [Karl and Diane Johnson], met the pro [Tim Boeve], played the course and experienced The Reserve hospitality, I knew it would continue to be on our schedule each spring. You can also count on a Kelley Hester-run tournament to have some fun activities away from the golf course.”
Last year’s event included egg-tossing and ping-pong contests.
Wisconsin coach Todd Oehrlein is another Clemson Invitational alum. “The event is one of the finest in the country,” said Oehrlein. “The golf course is a great test and is always in great condition. The golf course and the staff were outstanding and the membership was so welcoming. It is definitely one of the strongest fields in the country.”
The competitive field is what drew Columbia coach Amy Weeks to return after playing in 2017. “I know The Reserve is a fun, playable course with a wonderful, supportive community that opens their homes and facility to us for the week,” she said. “What a treat. Columbia University is grateful to be able to attend and compete against the best.”
Vanderbilt had the lead last year going into the final round and was crowned champion when rain prevented the final holes from being played. Furman University won the title in 2018.
“We are so blessed to have the support of the golf shop staff as well as the golf committee and membership,” said Hester. “We play events at some great golf courses, but it is uncommon to be welcomed in such an overwhelming way. Teams consistently tell us how comfortable they feel and appreciate the hospitality at The Reserve.’’