The Gopher Invitational

Go Gophers!
Go Gophers!

Go Gophers!
The Gopher Invitational:
The Nation's Finest Collegiate Tournament

Spring Hill is a private golf course located in Wayzata, a western suburb of Minneapolis (Map ). It is a Par 72, Tom Fazio design measuring 7,020 yards. This year, Golf Digest ranked Spring Hill the Fourth Best Golf Course in Minnesota. In 2000, it was ranked fifth-best new private course in the country by Golf Digest.

The University of Minnesota won the inaugural Gopher Invitational. Not only did it capture the team title by a tiebreaker over the Washington Huskies, but junior Niall Turner won the individual title by one stroke, firing a 1-under-par 215 for the weekend. The win was Turner's first collegiate tournament victory in his career.

Tournament sponsors and the membership of Spring Hill raised over $55,000 to support the event. Each year, the tournament covers the team's lodging, transportation, and food during the event. In addition, an army of volunteers are used for live scoring and as forecaddies.

In September of 2005, Spring Hill Golf Club played host to the inaugural Gopher Invitational. Twelve of the nation's best collegiate golf programs competed, half of those teams were coming off appearances at the 2005 NCAA Championships. The inaugural field included Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Indiana, Memphis, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Purdue, Southern Methodist, Stanford, UAB, UNC Wilmington and Washington.

2006 saw Stanford and Minnesota battle down to the final holes with the Cardinal coming away with the team title by five shots. Stanford senior Zack Miller and SMU senior Colt Knost tied for medalist honors with a final 54-hole score of 214 (-2).

In 2007, Lamar University ran away with the title by carding a Gopher Invitational record team score of 4-over par 868. The University of Wisconsin and the University of Arkansas tied for second place at 26-over par 890. Lamar's Casey Clendenon and Wisconsin's Danny Zimmerman both recorded 1-under par scores of 215 to tie for the individual title.

The 2008 Gopher Invite saw Texas and LSU tie for the team championship with scores of 872 (+8). The Longhorns were awarded the championship trophy by tiebreaker, which was determined by the cumulative score of the fifth-place finisher of each team. Marquette's Mike Van Sickle fired an even-par 72 in the final round to claim individual medalist honors by two shots over Texas' Charlie Holland, Arkansas' David Lingmerth and Iowa's Cole Peevler.

The 2009 field included 12 teams from 10 different collegiate conferences. The Gophers started the fifth annual invite on fire, as they posted a combined score of 1-over par 577 (292-285) and were tied for second place with the University of Arkansas after 36 holes.  Southern Methodist University, a squad making its fifth consecutive visit to the Gopher Invite, held the lead by two strokes after posting rounds of 285 and 290.

SMU pulled away during the final 18 holes to take the team title with a Gopher Invitational record score of 9-under par 855. The Razorbacks finished second at 1-over par (865) while the Gophers were third with a score of 8-over par (872). SMU's Kelly Kraft used a final round 64, a Spring Hill Golf Club record, to take home medalist honors. Minnesota's Ben Pisani, who broke the course record himself on day one of the event, finished second with a score of 7-under par 209.

LSU captured the 2010 title and in the process became the first multiple-time winner in tournament history. The Tigers overcame a 10-stroke deficit after 18 holes to grab a two-shot lead over Kent State after 36 holes. The margin increased throughout the final day as LSU posted the low round en route to the title.

Kent State's John Hahn took home medalist honors by posting two of the tournaments nine sub-70 rounds - 68 & 67 on the opening day - and a final round 71 to win by six strokes over Sebastian Cappelen of Arkansas. 


The Gopher Invitational History

Team Champions

2005  The University of Minnesota +19 (883) 
2006  Stanford University +25 (889) 
2007  Lamar University +4 (868) 
2008  Louisiana State University +8 (872) 
   University of Texas +8 (872) 
2009 SMU
-9 (885)
2010 Louisiana State University +5 (869)


Individual Champions
2005 Niall Turner, Minnesota -1 (215)
2006 Zach Miller, Stanford -2 (214)
  Colt Knost, SMU -2 (214)
2007 Casey Clendenon, Lamar -1 (215)
  Danny Zimmerman, Wisconsin -1 (215)
2008 Mike Van Sickle, Marquette -3 (213)
2009 Kelly Kraft, SMU -15 (201)
2010 John Hahn, Kent State -10 (206)