NIU alumni golfers beat 63 other college teams in the bracket competition during the Acura College Alumni Team Championship, held last weekend at the renowned Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina.
Jim Arvanetes of Chicago and John Larson of Caledonia both made birdies to win the one-hole playoff in the final match against the University of Nebraska. They also did well in the semifinal playoff against the University of Mississippi, with a birdie from Arvanetes and a par from Larson.
To steal the match against Nebraska, Arvanetes said, he made a 35-footer for birdie and Larson putted 10 feet to make birdie as well.
“We definitely felt like we had one of the better teams there,” said the 39-year-old, who played professionally for eight years. “And I think we all now play to our abilities so that we don’t put pressure on ourselves.”
The college alumni teams played a 36-hole best-ball competition, 18 holes per day, during the two-day event. The two best scores per hole were counted during each nine-hole match and teams were eliminated after each round. Winning teams were selected based on gross score, net score (with handicaps), and the one-hole bracket playoff.
After the last 18 holes on Saturday, NIU, Nebraska, Ole Miss, and Iowa State University were the remaining teams and two members per team were chosen to compete in the one-hole playoff. NIU did not have to face Iowa State since Nebraska beat Iowa in the semifinal playoff.
The gross-score winner was Iowa State, with a total of 262. Virginia Tech shot 239 to win the best net score.
Arvanetes (B.A. ’96), Larson (B.S. ’97), Jason Samuelian of Franklin, Wisconsin (B.A. ’94), and Derek Schoonhoven of Naperville (B.S. ’96) had a total gross score of 270, 134 the first day and 136 the second. All knew each other from their college days on the NIU golf team.
“It was great to see all those guys, to get reconnected with them,” Arvanetes said. “And it felt good to compete again and represent Northern.”
“I don’t play a lot of competitive golf anymore. So it was fun to have a competitive situation,” said Larson, who is 40. “And obviously spending time with the guys from college days was a lot of fun.”
The foursome brought home Putter Boy trophies and the flag from the 18th hole, where they won the one-hole playoff on Pinehurst No. 2. The Putter Boy is the iconic symbol of Pinehurst, which will host the 2014 U.S. Open.
They had the opportunity to play at Pinehurst because they won the 2013 NIU Alumni Association Golf Outing, done in partnership with the NIU Executive Leadership Forum. In its third year, the outing drew 224 golfers and 22 sponsors. This was a first for the team to win the alumni tournament.
“We would like to thank the Alumni Association for including the trip to Pinehurst, for the Acura College Alumni Team Championship as the prize for winning the alumni golf outing this spring,” Larson said. “The event was extremely well-run and the history of Pinehurst was awesome to experience.”
The 2014 alumni golf tournament will be held May 19 and registration will open February 3. Sponsorship opportunities will be available starting December 16.