The best university golfers from across Canada tested out Southwood Golf and Country Club Monday in preparation for the Canadian University/College Championship.
This week will be Manitoba's first time hosting the national golf championship and the University of Manitoba Bisons feel they have the home advantage when it comes to Southwood's wide-open course.
Bison coach Garth Goodbrandson used the term "prairie golf" when talking about the course and his five-man team that hopes to capture the overall team title, where the top four scores from each day are taken from each team.
"Last year we finished fifth, pretty close to third, so we know we can compete with everybody," said Goodbrandson, in his 14th year coaching the program. "The guys know the course well and they feel very comfortable out here. I think they're very confident playing here."
The Bison golf team has called the course home since it opened in 2011, but it's even more like home for fourth-year arts student Charlie Boyechko and fourth-year medicine student Bryce Barr, who are Southwood members. Both contend they know the course better than anyone.
"There's really nothing like it in the prairies. I've played in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and I haven't really seen a golf course like this," said Boyechko, who won an individual title in the fall of 2013. "We all hit the golf ball really well and it's kind of a premium on ball-striking."
Rain and thunder interrupted many of the athletes' practice time, as well as for Bison captain Josh Wytinck, who decided to take the day off to rest.
The rain didn't stop the UBC Thunderbirds golf team from getting familiar with the course. The Thunderbirds are the defending champions and have captured the title three times since 2008.
Veteran player Conner Kozak said his Thunderbirds team comes into the tournament with high expectations. Kozak is considered a "player to watch" by Golf Canada.
"The expectation is always to win for us," said Kozak, a third-year kinesiology student at the University of British Columbia. "I'd like to have a shot at winning the individual title. Coming away with the win would be really nice."
Golf Canada's Canadian University College Championship runs Tuesday through Friday at the Southwood Golf and Country Club.