When the going got tough, Erik Dane and friends got golfing — at the Orange and Blue courses, Ironhorse or wherever else had a free tee time.
“During a Ph.D. program – amidst all the reading of arcane text, all the testing for statistically significant effects, all the painstaking writing and re-writing, the citing and citing and citing – it’s important to make time for golf,” says the Rice associate professor, who earned his Ph.D. in business administration in 2007.
“It says a lot about the state of my golf game since 2005 that my all-time greatest achievement in the sport was winning a one day tournament that year at Ironhorse Golf Club in Tuscola, a straight drive south from Champaign.
“I shot a 78 that day. I still remember a lot of that round. The event was hosted by a university-sponsored club – the UIUC Golf Club – which was definitely not the university’s NCAA golf team. We were a ragtag mix of undergrads and graduate students who showed up at courses in the area — including the university’s Orange and Blue courses — on Saturday mornings in the fall and the spring to swing the sticks.
"Turnout varied linearly and negatively with the intensity of hangovers.
“What I remember most about playing golf in central Illinois is the wind. U of I alums will recall breezes whipping through Campustown frequently and ferociously. Those gusts are one thing when you can duck into Legends for a brew or a bite.
“They’re another when you’re a 9-iron’s distance from the green, negotiating your shot with a 5-iron, knowing that this still might not be enough of a club. No matter. Just as you’re about to swing, the wind whisks the cap off your head and it flies 30 yards behind you.
“Golf on the prairie is not an opportunity to commune with nature. It’s an act of masochism in the face of it.
“Even so, it’s well worth the punishment.”