Most of Canada’s university and college students will have completed their final exams by the end of this month.
But for 156 of the nation’s top collegiate golfers, one very stern test remains.
The 2016 Canadian University Golf Championships will be played May 31-June 3 at Parksville’s Morningstar Golf Club, and the hosts are rolling out a welcome mat that would seem to be booby trapped.
“The kids are gonna have a real challenge here,” said John Shaw, a member of Morningstar’s host committee. “They’re going to enjoy this.”
The tournament is actually being hosted by the University of Victoria. But the school called Morningstar to ask if it could serve as host course for the 72-hole tourney, said Michael Loftus, tournament director.
“One of the reasons they asked us is, this is a real tournament course,” said Loftus, VP of Sales at Morningstar and a veteran tournament organizer. “On a tournament course, only a good golfer is going to come away with a win. There is no ‘bail-out’ hole here.”
The 7,000-yard, par-70 course was designed by noted course architect Les Furber.
One unique twist to its design is a mix of six links-style holes, of the type more commonly found in coastal Europe, with 12 North American-type holes.
The starting and finishing holes are largely open and lined by homes, but the middle portion of the course is set in heavy woods and is marked by sloping fairways; large, undulating greens; numerous water hazards and bunkers; and Morningstar’s signature heather.
Morningstar has hosted three PGA of Canada events, two CN Future Links Pacific Championships, the 2007 BCGA Men’s Amateur, the 2010 Golf Canada Senior Ladies National Championships, and the 2014 Golf Canada Women’s Tour.
Later this year it will welcome back student golfers when it hosts the 2016 Pacwest Conference provincial championships.
The tournament begins with a practice round Monday, May 30, followed by 18-hole rounds over the next four days. Golf Canada will run the tournament and will manage course set-up.
“We basically give them the course for the week,” said Loftus.
Morningstar Golf Club will also provide Golf Canada with plenty of manpower. Organizers have been recruiting volunteers to serve as spotters, scorers, and liaison leaders to each of the 32 teams.
Competition will be held for both teams and individuals, with the top 20 men’s teams and top 12 women’s teams having earned berths in qualifying events throughout the season.
The 156 golfers will be joined by coaches and other team staff, school dignitaries, family and other guests in a weeklong boost to the local economy.
“We estimate 1,000 hotel night stays for the week,” Loftus said.
The course will be closed to public play during the week, but spectators are welcome at no cost, and the pro shop and restaurant will remain open.