Many times during the summer, Christian Fairbanks, Ian Smith and Michael VanDeventer can be found playing golf with one another.
They’re at the same course this weekend, but the vibe is just a little bit different.
Once teammates at Columbus North, Fairbanks, Smith and VanDeventer were all sporting different colors at Otter Creek Golf Course on Saturday, braving the chilly morning air to compete against one another in the first round of the Hoosier Collegiate.
Though it’s a bit different for the former Bull Dogs not to be on the same side, the idea of one trying to outdo the others isn’t entirely new to any of them.
“We’ve always been really competitive with each other,” Smith said.
VanDeventer is playing in the No. 3 spot for Ball State this weekend, while Smith is at No. 5 for IUPUI. Fairbanks is not in the Indiana lineup this weekend but is competing in the tournament as an individual.
Of the three, it was VanDeventer who enjoyed the most success Saturday. After going double bogey on the 17th and 18th holes, the sophomore settled down with birdies on holes 1, 4 and 5. Though VanDeventer bogeyed the 8th and 11th, he still finished the day at 75 (3 over par), five shots off the individual lead in a tie for 27th.
Ball State enters today’s final round tied for second place as a team at 5 over par, just two shots back of Purdue.
The Cardinal players are all staying at VanDeventer’s house for the weekend.
“It’s fun,” VanDeventer said of the team slumber party. “Mom enjoys it.”
Smith, teeing off at 18, hit a rough stretch after moving to the front nine, playing holes 4 through 7 at 5 over par. He stopped the bleeding with a birdie on the 12th and finished his round at 6-over 78. Fairbanks, who started on the 16th, struggled in a similar spot, going 5 over on holes 3 through 6 en route to a first-round score of 77.
“I felt relaxed for the most part,” Fairbanks said of his round. “A couple of swings got away from me, but overall it feels good to be back.”
Fairbanks, Smith and VanDeventer all played together at North in 2013. A year later, following Smith’s graduation, Fairbanks and VanDeventer shared top individual honors at the state championship while guiding the Bull Dogs to the team crown.
VanDeventer got the better of his hometown playing partners in the first round, but while he acknowledges that he wants to maintain that upper hand today, he adds that “we want to see each other play well, too.”
Regardless of how things play out today, the Columbus trio is enjoying a rare in-season opportunity to return to familiar territory and catch up with one another.
“It’s always fun to play at Otter,” Smith said. “You’d like to do a little bit better — I didn’t do as well as I should have — but it’s always fun to see the guys and get to play with them.”
Local fans looking to keep up with today’s final round can head out to Otter Creek for the 9 a.m. start or follow the action online at golfstat.com.