Iowa men’s golf notebook | Hawkeyes set to host Calusa Cup

In one of the strongest fields in college golf this season, Iowa will compete against four of the top five teams in the country at Calusa Pines Golf Club in Naples, Florida.


Hannah Kinson

Iowa’s Mac McClear watches other players on the green during the men’s golf Hawkeye Invitational on Saturday, April 17, 2021 at Finkbine Golf Course.

Chris Werner, Assistant Sports Editor

The Iowa men’s golf team will host the third annual Calusa Cup from April 2-4 at Calusa Pines Golf Club in Naples, Florida. The Hawkeyes will compete in a nine-team field that includes four of the top five teams in the country. 

Iowa is the only unranked squad in the event’s field, as head coach Tyler Stith’s bunch will tee it up against No. 1 Vanderbilt, No. 2 Texas Tech, No. 3 North Carolina, No. 5 Arizona State, No. 26 Ohio State, No. 29 Georgia, No. 35 Wake Forest, and No. 39 Purdue.

“Ultimately, we want to compete we want to be able to have a chance to beat some of those teams that are down there,” Stith said. “That’s kind of our motivation at this point of the season is to just be competitive and beat as many ranked teams as we possibly can along the way.”

Stith said his team is on the bubble for the upcoming NCAA Regionals in mid-May and a good showing in a tournament with all ranked teams would go a long way on its resume.

In the first three events this spring, the Hawkeyes have beaten seven teams ranked inside the top 50 in the country, but Stith said his team has to bounce back from an eighth-place showing at its most recent tournament at the Johnnie-O at Sea Island. 

There, the Hawkeyes only topped one ranked team. 

“Sea Island was kind of our first setback,” Stith said. “It’ll be interesting, you know, I think it’s a big challenge for us to see now how we respond to that if we can maintain the confidence that we had the first two tournaments.

“When everything’s going well, you know, it’s easy to remain confident but when you start when you hit a few poor shots, or if you have a bad round, you start to question yourself and so now, it’s a test for us going to this tournament with so many good teams.”

McClear trending upward

Along with his team’s good play for the most part this spring, Hawkeye senior Mac McClear’s game has been showing good results as of late.

In Iowa’s last two events, the 2021 Big Ten Individual Champion has a tie for second place at the Wake Forest Invitational and a tie for 22nd at the Johnnie-O. 

McClear and Stith both believe that the Hawkeyes’ top player had a chance to win at Johnnie-O before he went 6-over-par during the event’s final seven holes.

“I played pretty good at Sea Island,” McClear said. “Played well for 48 holes and then the last six kind of just went off the rails. For most of that tournament, though, I played really solidly, was in contention for basically most of the tournament … The game is definitely in good shape at the moment.”

McClear, who has three individual wins as a Hawkeye, said he’s excited to test his game against the nation’s best players. He said his competitive nature allows him to play freely in college golf’s biggest events. 

“Always gets me excited to play in a top field,” McClear said. “I think I’m just a competitive guy. I like to play against the best you know, I like to try to beat them. I’m not gonna go to that tournament and play scared. I’m totally confident that I can hang with the best college players in the world and certainly beat them too.”

McClear, who has finished 16th and 26th in the two previous Calusa Cups, respectively,  along with freshman Hogan Hansen, sophomore Ian Meyer, junior Callum Macfie, and senior Ronan Kleu, will represent Iowa this week in Florida. 

Play will begin Sunday at 11 a.m. and live scoring can be found here.