New men’s intercollegiate team championship at Öviinbyrd Golf Club will mark the first NCAA Division I golf event held in Canada
Oakville, Ont. – Golf Canada is pleased to announce the creation of the Canadian Collegiate Invitational tournament that will take place at Öviinbyrd Golf Club in MacTier, Ont. from September 15 – 17, 2024.
The tournament will be conducted by Golf Canada and co-hosted by Kent State University and Penn State University who are both led by Canadian head coaches, Jon Mills (Kent State) and Mark Leon (Penn State). The tournament will feature NCAA Division I men’s golf teams with prominent Canadian ties along with the team champions of the 2024 Canadian University/College Championship.
Joining the co-hosts from Kent State and Penn State will be Miami University (Ohio), University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Missouri, University of Notre Dame, Rutgers University, and Washington State University. Also competing will be the 2024 Canadian University/College Men’s Team champions crowned next spring at Idylwylde Golf & Country Club in Sudbury, Ont.
The inaugural Canadian Collegiate Invitational marks the first time that an NCAA Division I men’s golf tournament will be played in Canada.
In addition, the selection camp tournament for the Team Canada – NextGen boys squad will be contested concurrently with the Canadian Collegiate Invitational at Öviinbyrd Golf Club as Canada’s best junior boys look to qualify for the 2025 Team Canada – NextGen squad. Invitation criteria for the selection camp will be made available early in the new year.
“We are excited to add a new tournament to our Amateur Championship schedule and we thank Kent State and Penn State for co-hosting this invitational as we welcome some of the top Division I NCAA collegiate programs to compete in Canada for the first time,” said Mary Beth McKenna, Director, Amateur Championships and Rules, Golf Canada. “We also extend our thanks to Öviinbyrd Golf Club and the partners Paul McLean, Peter Schwartz and Rob Fraser for their gracious support in hosting this inaugural invitational at their golf course. We are also excited to concurrently run our Team Canada – NextGen selection camp tournament, which will provide high-level junior players the opportunity to compare themselves with top-tier NCAA competition.”
Öviinbyrd Golf Club is one of Canada’s premier golf courses, designed by Thomas McBroom and opened in 2004 in Muskoka, Ont. The 7,118-yard layout is set amongst the forests and exposed granite of the Canadian shield in Ontario’s famous cottage country and will create a challenging and memorable experience for the players. Öviinbyrd’s recently renovated practice facility features world class training conditions and state-of-the-art technology and will benefit players participating in both the NCAA event and the Team Canada – NextGen selection camp.
“The Öviinbyrd members and management team look forward to sharing our unique club culture with some of the best NCAA college players and top Canadian junior boys in the fall of 2024,” said Lindsay Franklin, General Manager, Öviinbyrd Golf Club. “With Muskoka as the backdrop to this inaugural event, we are excited to give back to Canadian golf, while creating memorable experiences for the players and helping to advance Canada as a world-class golf country.”
The inaugural championship will be contested over 54 holes in two days, with 36 holes played in the opening round and 18 holes in the final round. The team component will feature five members per team with the top four scores for the day counting to the overall team score. The individual competition will be stroke-play with the winner receiving an exemption into the 2025 RBC Canadian Open and the top-five receiving exemptions into the 2025 Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship, presented by BDO.
Consideration is on-going for the addition of a women’s NCAA Division I tournament in parallel with additional opportunities to expand the women’s competitive golf schedule in Canada. The full 2024 Amateur Championship schedule including the Team Canada – NextGen Girls selection camp tournament will be announced in the new year.
ABOUT THE TEAMS…
Kent State Golden Flashes (Co-Host)
The Golden Flashes earned four top-10 finishes this fall, including a second-place finish at the Gopher Invitational in September. Kent State are led by head coach Jon Mills of Belleville, Ont. and have three Canadians currently on their roster with Team Canada – NextGen member Ben MacLean of Niagara Falls, Ont., Chris Vandette of Beaconsfield, Que. and James Newton of Ottawa. 2023 NextGen Ontario winner Isaiah Ibit of Ottawa will be a freshman in the fall of 2024. Kent State has been a feeder program to the PGA TOUR for Canadians in the past with Corey Conners, Mackenzie Hughes and Taylor Pendrith all having played for the Golden Flashes during their collegiate careers.
“Kent State has long been associated with excellence in Canadian golf, and we are very excited to welcome other college teams to compete in Canada for the first time and experience Muskoka in the fall,” said Jon Mills.
Penn State Nittany Lions (Co-Host)
The Nittany Lions earned four top-10 finishes during the fall season. Penn State are led by head coach Mark Leon of Toronto and have one Canadian on the roster—Zach Smith of Brampton, Ont.—who will be a sophomore in 2024.
“As a proud Canadian and Penn State Nittany Lion, I’m very proud to be hosting some of the best NCAA programs at the Canadian Collegiate Invitational at Oviinbyrd. Canada continues to emerge as a globally significant golfing country and Penn State looks forward to this groundbreaking event,” said Mark Leon.
Miami (Ohio) RedHawks
The RedHawks have earned four top-10 finishes during the fall season including a pair of fourth place finishes at the Island Resort Collegiate and the Virtues Intercollegiate. Miami features two Canadians on the roster—Cameron Pero of Bloomfield, Ont. and Michael Weber of Burlington, Ont.—who will both be entering their junior years in 2024.
The Wolverines have had a successful fall season winning two tournaments in September. Michigan won their season opener, the Island Resort Intercollegiate, finishing at 30-under and followed it up a couple weeks later winning the Virtues Intercollegiate with a score of 34-under. Michigan closed the fall season with a runner-up finish at The Clerico. Michigan’s Director of Sports Performance and Assistant Coach is Matt Hoffman of Thornhill, Ont. The Wolverines also have two Canadians on their roster—Hunter Thomson of Calgary, Alta. and Bavake Sihota of Caledon, Ont.—who will both be seniors in 2024.
Michigan State Spartans
The Spartans finished as runners-up in the Folds of Honor Collegiate tournament in September. 2023 Canadian Men’s Amateur Champion and 2023 World Amateur Team Championships Team Canada member, Ashton McCulloch of Kingston, Ont. will be entering his senior year for the Spartans in 2024.
The Tigers enjoyed a strong fall season with one win and one runner-up finish in six tournaments. The Tigers were co-winners with Wake Forest at the Chicago Highlands Invitational in September after finishing at 31-under. Missouri opened the season with a runner-up finish at the Golfweek Collegiate Kickoff, finishing 13-under.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame are led by head coach John Handrigan of Bracebridge, Ont. and have one Canadian on the roster—Owen Mullen of Truro, N.S.—who will be a senior in 2024. The Fighting Irish won their first tournament of the fall season, the Folds of Honor Collegiate by overcoming a five-shot deficit on the final two holes of the tournament, finishing at 8-over.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
The Scarlet Knights earned five consecutive top-10 finishes during the fall season. Current senior and team captain Xavier Marcoux is a Canadian citizen and represents Canada in competition.
Washington State Cougars
The Cougars have had a strong fall season earning four top-five finishes in five tournaments. The Cougars finished as runners-up at the Golfweek Fall Challenge and the Oregon State Invitational and added a third-place finish at the Visit Stockton Pacific Invitational. 2021 Canadian Men’s Amateur champion and Team Canada member Max Sekulic of Rycroft, Alta. is a recent graduate.