UBC Men Win NAIA National Championship Tourney

The UBC T'Birds Are 2023 NAIA Champions - Photo Credit Dan O'Connor (UBC T'Birds Communications)

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

For just the second time in program history, the University of B.C. men’s golf team has captured the NAIA national championship. The T-Birds surprised even their coach by winning the 72-hole tournament at Las Sendas Golf Club in Mesa, Ariz.

“To be honest it’s a big surprise and it’s a big upset,” said longtime UBC coach Chris Macdonald. “We were the 12th-ranked team coming in, so a lot of things had to go right.”

UBC won what was a closely contested tournament by three shots over The Masters University of Santa Clarita, Calif. The Thunderbirds posted a team-score of two-under par in Friday’s final round to finish at five-over par. Top-seeded Keiser University of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. finished alone in third place at 14-over par. The University of Victoria tied for fourth place at 16-over.

It was truly a team win for the Thunderbirds. They did not have a player finish inside the top 10, but they got contributions from all five players: Aidan Schumer, Mackenzie Bickell, Hudson Lafayette, J.P. Kahlert and Dylan Macdonald.

Kahlert led the way in the final round, shooting a two-under 70. “This feels great,” Kahlert said. “It’s a nice way to cap off lots of hard work this season. It was a nice way to finish it off.”

Kahlert said the team was not worried about being ranked so low heading into the event. “We went down to Arizona in the fall and played Ottawa University’s event against some of the top teams and we ended up winning that event,” he said. “That gave us a lot of confidence that we could do it against the top teams in the NAIA.”

Macdonald said the T-Birds did a nice job during the week of getting more and more comfortable on a 7,000-yard Las Sendas layout that can be quite penal.

“We had nationals here before and I learned a lot that year that I could share,” Macdonald said. “The guys were really listening and were keen to play well. It is a very strategic golf course. You have to be really careful not to go long of pins and the water is very well placed. . .so your score can inflate pretty quickly. 

“I was just so proud of them. They kind of found their own way around the golf course, they learned what they needed to do. It’s really easy to make bogeys here, but it’s even easier to make others. We managed to avoid that most of the week.”

Click HERE for complete final results. 

CHIP SHOTS: Victoria’s Robin Conlin tied for fifth in the individual competition at three-under par. . .Macdonald now heads to Illinois for the NAIA Women’s Championship tourney, which goes May 23-26 at TPC Deere Run in Silvas.