OWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa men’s golf team will compete in the annual Golfweek Conference Challenge next month at Spirit Hallow Golf Course in Burlington, Iowa. The tournament will consist of three 18-hole rounds, running from Sept. 30-Oct. 2.
“The GolfWeek Conference Challenge is a great opportunity for us to compete close to home and showcase one of the great golf courses in the Midwest,” said UI head coach Tyler Stith. “Spirit Hollow has been a great partner for the Golfweek Conference Challenge. Since 2010, we’ve hosted one of the best tournaments in collegiate golf. We’ve been able to attract some of the best teams from across the country.”
The Golfweek Conference Challenge has turned into one of the elite collegiate tournaments in the country, serving as a showcase event for most teams. In its eighth year of existence, the tournament brings in elite competition from each of the nation’s top conferences. This year’s event features 12 teams from 12 conferences, including eight schools that advanced to NCAA Regional play last season. The field includes: Kansas, Texas A&M, Charleston Southern, Lipscomb, James Madison, Idaho, McNeese State, Miami (Ohio), San Jose State, UMKC, Southern Illinois, and Iowa.
In its short history, the Golfweek Conference Challenge has attracted some of the top teams and players from around the country. Some of the most notable individuals to compete at the Conference Challenge include Brooks Koepka (Florida State), Max Homa (UC Berkley), Harold Varner (ECU), and Albin Choi (N.C. State).
Last year’s event included SMU’s Bryson DeChambeau, one of the most popular up-and-coming names in the game. In 2015, DeChambeau joined Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jack Nicklaus, and Ryan Moore as the only golfers to win the NCAA Individual Championship and the U.S. Amateur in the same year. DeChambeau turned professional in April, making his pro debut at the RBC Heritage in South Carolina, where he finished in a tie for fourth.
This year also marks the seventh consecutive year Spirit Hollow Golf Course will serve as tournament host. Spirit Hollow is ranked the No. 2 golf course in the state of Iowa by both Golf Digest and Golfweek. The 18-hole course stretches over 7,550 yards of bentgrass with a 74.8 rating and 134 slope. Spirit Hollow opened in 2000 and was designed by Richard Jacobson (ASGCA).
“Spirit is a tremendous test for players of all abilities and a truly unique golfing experience,” said Stith. “I anticipate 2016 will be yet another exciting Conference Challenge.”
Iowa has won the event twice, including last year when three Hawkeyes notched top 10 finishes to capture the team title at 842 (-22; 284, 273, 285) — three strokes ahead of tournament runner up North Carolina State. Raymond Knoll claimed co-medalist honors after recording the lowest three-round total in program history (205; -11; 66, 67, 72).
Friday and Saturday’s first and second round tee times are set for 9 a.m. (CT) off holes one and 10. Sunday’s final round begins at 8:30 a.m. (CT) via a shotgun start. Admission is free to the public.
TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONS (Team)
2009 Florida State — 853 (-11)
2010 Iowa — 833 (-31)
2011 Arkansas — 859 (-5)
2012 Missouri — 857 (-7)
2013 Oklahoma — 857 (-7)
2014 LSU — 849 (-15)*
2015 Iowa — 842 (-22)
TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONS (Individual)
2009 Drew Kettleson (Florida State) and Brad Hopfinger (Iowa) — 207 (-9)
2010 Vince India (Iowa) and Chris Brant (Iowa) — 206 (-10)
2011 Stephen Jaeger (Chattanooga) — 209 (-7)
2012 Jace Long (Missouri) — 207 (-9)
2013 Stewart Jolly (LSU) and Scott Vincent (Virginia Tech) — 210 (-6)
2014 Stewart Jolly (LSU) — 207 (-9)
2015 Raymond Knoll (Iowa) and Jeremy Gandon (Kansas State) — 205 (-11)
* – 2015 Division I National Champions