The Schooner Fall Classic is one of the top tournaments in college golf. It’s also one favorite tournaments for every team who has played in the event in its first five seasons. It’s special because in addition to great golf to event is played for the pediatric cancer patients and their families at the OK Kids Korral – a 30,000 square foot guest lodge funded by country music icon Toby Keith and his superstar wife Tricia Covel.
The OK Kids Korral is on the grounds of Oklahoma University Medical Center, which provides a haven of respite for families of young cancer patients going through treatment. The guest lodge opened in 2012.
“The Schooner Fall Classic is more than a tournament to our program,” said Bond who has taken her team to the event in each of the six years it has been played. “This event allows us to touch the lives of the patients and their families who are staying at the lodge. But in all honesty, it’s the players and coaches playing in the event and interacting with the kids who are the ones that are emotionally affected. The time we spend with the kids over the weekend is incredibly uplifting and shows you what is really important in life.”
Keith is known globally as a singer, songwriter and entertainer while he and his wife are wonderful philanthropists, who have helped raise millions of dollars to provide a no-cost home for children who are battling cancer at the OK Kids Korral. The couples’ generosity helps families stay together during treatments at no cost.
Florida State, which claimed the 2016 team and individual championships at the Schooner Fall Classic, faces many formidable challenges in the 15-team field beginning Friday at 9:30 ET. The 54-hole tournament runs through Sunday on the par 71, 6,063-yard course at Belmar. The field includes No. 2 Alabama, No. 8 Texas, No. 15 Florida State, No. 20 Baylor, No. 22 Clemson, No. 24 Oklahoma, Miami, Mississippi State, New Mexico, Notre Dame, Oregon, Texas A&M, Texas State, UNC Wilmington and Wisconsin.
The first round of the event will be televised Friday on Fox Sports Oklahoma and Fox College Sports Central from 1-4 p.m. (ET) with a live stream on Sunday of hole No. 18 on SoonerSports.TV.
“This is annually one of best fields we face,” said Bond who coached the Seminoles to a fifth place finish at the event in 2017. “This will be the sixth consecutive year we have played in this event; it’s always one of the most competitive tournaments we play in during the fall. Playing against the teams in this event helps us learn a lot about ourselves and gives us a great indication of what we need to work on for the remainder of the fall and into the spring season.”
Florida State travels to the Schooner Fall Classic with its second different lineup in its second event of the fall season. The Seminoles’ lineup consists of one junior (All-American Amanda Doherty), one sophomore (Kathleen Sumner) and three freshmen (Frida Kinhult, Beatrice Wallin and Amelia Williamson) as it did at the season opening Cougar Classic where FSU finished fifth in the team standings. The Cougar Classic was shortened to 36 holes because of the anticipated arrival of Hurricane Florence in the states of North and South Carolina.
“We are really looking forward to getting back on the course after the Cougar Classic was cut short because of the incoming hurricane,” said Bond. “We were excited for the third round of the event because we had played well in the second round. We hope to carry that momentum into the Schooner. The competitiveness of this event is always great. We know there is going to be a lot of great golf this weekend.”
Doherty, who finished in a tie for 16th place in the individual standings at the 2016 Schooner Fall Classic, has had this event circled on the schedule since last season.
“This Schooner Fall Classic is always a favorite for us,” said Doherty. “It is a great event and it is always good to play against a strong field. One of the best parts about this event, though, is going to the OK Kids Korral and getting the opportunity to meet and play with the kids.
For Bond and her squad, playing in the Schooner Classic holds a special place in their hearts.
“For me, the time we spend with the kids at the OK Korral is very special,” said Bond. “This is a great tournament, but the thing that everyone who plays in this event comes away with is way more than scores on a scorecard. It’s the kids you meet and the impact they make on us as young women and adults. The kids are who this event is about and spending time with them is what we are looking most forward to this weekend.”