Iowa men’s golf notebook | Hawkeyes head to Big Ten Championships in win-or-go-home situation

Iowa must win its first team crown at the Big Ten Championships since 1992 this weekend in New Jersey to earn an NCAA Regional berth.


Emily Nyberg

Iowa’s Callum Macfie walks to the next hole during the Hawkeye Invitational at Finkbine Golf Course in Iowa City on Friday, April 14, 2023. The Hawkeyes are leading after round one of three at the two-day tournament with Iowa’s Mac McClear leading the team in fifth place.

Chris Werner, Assistant Sports Editor

The Iowa men’s golf team is set to begin the Big Ten Championships on Friday morning at Galloway National Golf Club in New Jersey.

The Hawkeyes will compete against the conference’s other 13 schools, and the action will begin at 8 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and 7 a.m. on Sunday with one round per day.

Despite Iowa’s team victory at the Hawkeye Invitational two weeks ago at Finkbine Golf Course, head coach Tyler Stith’s bunch needs another victory in the Garden State to secure an NCAA Regionals berth.

Senior Ronan Kleu, who could be playing in his final collegiate event this weekend, said the win-and-you’re-in scenario doesn’t ratchet up the pressure. Instead, it does the opposite.

“I don’t think it’s more motivation,” Kleu said. “I think it relieves some of the pressure, honestly. Since for me, it’s my last event, give it everything and try and win the thing, and then also for the team, we’re going to try our hardest regardless. It’s not like we have to finish top four or whatever then we move on, it’s you win, or you go home. Just go out there guns blazing.”

Stith said he believes if his team plays smart golf, the Hawkeyes are talented enough to compete for the title.

Currently ranked 76th in the Golfstat men’s team rankings, the Hawkeyes are the eighth-highest ranked Big Ten team, behind No. 74 Wisconsin, No. 67 Indiana, No. 61 Michigan State, No. 36 Purdue, No. 28 Northwestern, No. 25 Ohio State, and No. 3 Illinois.

“I think we have to not beat ourselves,” Stith said. “Just minimize the unforced errors and try to play clean golf as much as we possibly can and those things are the same regardless of where you play, you know, it’s just making good decisions and hitting the ball and being good around the greens. And if we do that, we’ll have a chance on Sunday.”

Junior Callum Macfie said Iowa’s finish to win the Hawkeye Invitational and fight off a charging Kansas team gives him confidence heading into the conference championships.

Iowa played its final nine holes in a collective seven-under-par to collect the five-shot victory.

“It was great that we finished off the tournament,” Macfie said. “Kansas was coming at us quick but we all collectively came in clutch and made some birdies coming down the stretch and made some big putts when it mattered most, so I think that is something we’re going to take forward, being able to perform when it matters most, and Big Tens will be even more important.”

Iowa won its lone Big Ten Championship title in 1992.

McClear looking for two in a row 

The biggest reason why Iowa was victorious at the Hawkeye Invitational was the play of senior Mac McClear.

He carded a three-round score of 10-under-par 206 to collect his fourth individual victory of his career and claim his third Big Ten Men’s Golfer of the Week honor. The other three wins came at the 2021 Spartan Intercollegiate, 2021 Big Ten Championships, and 2022 Iowa Fall Classic.

In 2021, behind McClear’s victory and then-senior Alex Schaake’s tie for second, the Hawkeyes finished as runners-up to Illinois, falling by a single shot.

After his most recent win, McClear said his game is good enough to add a second Big Ten title to his resume.

“I like my chances,” McClear said. “Looked at the course, it looks like you have to drive it well, looks like you’re going to have to hit it well, which is obviously right up my alley. I made some putts at Hawkeye [Invitational], putter’s finally starting to click. I think if I can keep hitting it good and make some putts, I think I’ll do pretty good.”

Iowa will be paired with Wisconsin on Friday. Kleu, Macfie, and McClear, along with freshman Hogan Hansen and sophomore Ian Meyer, will begin their rounds on the tenth hole. Live scoring can be found at