How a Spartan alum helped bring a tourney to Bluffton

Michigan State hosting 7th Colleton River Collegiate this week

How a Spartan alum helped bring a tourney to Bluffton
14 teams are taking aim at the 7th annual Colleton River Collegiate title this week in Bluffton. (Source: WTOC)

BLUFFTON, SC (WTOC) - For the seventh time, the Colleton River Collegiate has teed off in Bluffton.

Once again, the host team finds themselves more than 900 miles from campus.

Why Michigan State hosts a golf tournament in Bluffton

“You come up to our weather this time of year, you’ll learn why,” laughs Michigan State associate head coach Dan Ellis.

Georgia Southern is competing in the Colleton River Collegiate for the first time. The Eagles (+8) are tied for 7th after 36 holes.
Georgia Southern is competing in the Colleton River Collegiate for the first time. The Eagles (+8) are tied for 7th after 36 holes. (Source: WTOC)

It’s not just the warmth that has the Michigan State Spartans hosting a tournament in the Low Country, It’s the people,

One person specifically.

“In 20 years being around the game, I never met anyone who loved golf this much,” says Michigan State head coach Casey Lubahn.

Former Spartan golfer Al Thiess helped establish the Colleton River Collegiate in Bluffton.
Former Spartan golfer Al Thiess helped establish the Colleton River Collegiate in Bluffton. (Source: Michigan State Athletics)

Lubahn is talking about Al Thiess, who concluded his playing career as a Spartan in 1968. He later moved to the Colleton River Club and had an idea pretty soon after.

Why not build on the Spartan golf program’s tradition of a spring break trip?

“When he played in the 60’s, they all went to North Carolina. And they’d all talk about it," Lubahn says. "So he wanted to create that tradition here. And as you can tell, it doesn’t get any better than this.”

Michigan State is hosting their annual tournament 900+ miles from campus in East Lansing, MI.
Michigan State is hosting their annual tournament 900+ miles from campus in East Lansing, MI. (Source: WTOC)

Now seven years from the very first tee shot, the tournament welcomes it’s biggest and most competitive field.

Thiess passed away in 2017, but the Spartans say he is never that far away from the tournament he helped establish.

“You still feel him here. He really loved this place," Ellis says. "You can still see his effects around here.”

“This event has grown and I know he’s proud of us wherever he is today," Lubahn says. "Because of that we’ve started something special.”

LEADERBOARD THROUGH 36 HOLES

1. Michigan State 563 -13

2. Iowa State 567 -9

3. Memphis 575 -1

4. Iowa 577 +1

5. Kansas State 580 +4

6. Penn State 583 +7

T7. Georgia Southern 584 +8

T7. Rutgers 584 +8

9. Wisconsin 589 +13

10. Eastern Michigan 590 +14

11. Cincinnati 591 +15

12. Miami (OH) 599 +23

13. Oakland 608 +32

14. Bowling Green 610 +34

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