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Li making most of time on course, eyes return of competitive golf

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Golf by nature is played among friends, teammates or business partners. It is meant to be sociable.

But golf is also one that can easily adapt. It’s a non-contact sport. Players can maintain separation on the course.

A few Florida State golfers have remained in Tallahassee and play the Seminole Legacy Course, sometimes multiple times each day. While much of the sports world has hit the pause button due to the threat of COVID-19, golf has continued with a few adjustments.

“Not a lot has changed,” senior golfer Jamie Li said. “You have to be in your own cart. No one is touching flagsticks or rakes.”

Li has been able to play the 7,800-yard, par-72 Seminole Legacy Course almost every day since its grand opening in early March. The course has been re-designed over the past few years by Jack and Jackie Nicklaus, turning it into one of the nation’s top college courses.

A native of England, Li has a career average of 71.88 that is the eighth-lowest in FSU history. And his 2019-20 scoring average, even in a shortened season due to COVID-19, was a remarkable 70.39.

“He’s improved a lot since he’s been here,” FSU coach Trey Jones said. “He’s become one of the top collegiate players in the country. It’s a testament to his hard work and determination.”

Li has played varying golf courses in Europe and the U.S., and he says the Seminole Legacy Course proves fun but challenging. 

“Since coming to Florida State, I have adapted to playing a lot of Florida golf,” Li said. “The ground is soft, there is a lot of water. This is not a typical Florida golf course. It’s a lot more fun. The ground is a lot firmer. The grounds are undulating. It’s fairly generous off the tee. In terms of hazards, there aren’t many. You’re always in play, you’ve always got a shot.”

A geography major with an emphasis on business, Li has also gained a deeper appreciation for golf course design after speaking with some of the Nicklaus designers the last few years.

The course has been enjoyable for Li, and he has found No. 12 – a 435-yard, par-4 – to be his favorite. “There’s just so many options from tee to green, so many different ways you can play the hole,” Li said.

Others that Li has enjoyed are No. 5 (a 185-yard par-3) and the closing hole, No. 18 (a 490-yard par-4).

“They’re all different in their own way,” Li said. “I really like how the holes vary throughout the course. There isn’t a part of the course where you feel like you play a similar hole back to back. … There are a lot of holes I haven’t quite figured out yet. Certain shots to certain pins are just so tricky.”

With golf re-starting for professionals in a limited capacity, Li is also hopeful that individual amateur tournaments will re-start in mid-June. He hopes to return to competitive golf this summer and there is optimism that FSU golf will return in September with a fall season.

“There are so many concerns, I think it’s just important to stay patient and stay disciplined,” Li said. “We’ll be competing again soon.”

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