PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – Canada has never been known as a country to produce golfers, but Kent State coach, Herb Page, has been aware of the untapped talent for years.
Page, who was born in Ontario, Canada, played his collegiate golf at Kent State and was named the golf coach in 1978. Thirty years ago getting top Canadian golfers was easier for the long-time coach.
“Being from Canada it was a lot easier,” Page said. “In the early days I was really connected with the Canadian PGA pros and no one really recruited up there.”
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That’s not the case anymore. The secrets out and golfers such as Kent State’s Corey Conners are receiving far more attention then he might have gotten if he was entering college a decade ago. The team has two other Canadian golfers, senior Mackenzie Hughes and sophomore, Taylor Pendrith.
“There are no secrets there anymore,” Page said. “There’s Canadians all over the nation. I was at some obscure junior golf event and there were six NCAA Division I coaches there.”
Conners was impressed with Page and the Kent State program and it was a fairly easy decision, despite the interest he got from other coaches.
“Kent State has a history of recruiting the top Canadian players,” Conners said. “I knew about the school and when I got recruited I went there for a visit and realized what a great place it was and knew why those guys had gone there.”
Conners also leaned on some older players, who had gone through the program, such as David Markle and they were able to extol the virtues of Page and his program.
“I knew some of the guys that had gone there in the past,” Conners said. “One of the guys had graduated before I got there and he told me a lot about the school. I was able to talk to a couple others and that was really helpful.”
The networking definitely helped. Conners played mostly in Canada as a youth, venturing down to the states for Junior Worlds in San Diego, but playing most of his junior career north of the border.
“There is a junior development team in Canada and I played on that,” Conners said. “I got to play in some international events like the world cup in Japan.”
That tournament in particular proved to be invaluable. Conners defeated Bobby Wyatt, who went on to enroll at Alabama. In Friday’s match play, Conners faced Wyatt again and defeated him 4 and 2. It was the only match Kent State won from the No. 1 seeded team. Conners also was flirting with the lead in the individual competition, eventually finishing tied for fourth.
“I was thrilled,” Conners said of his week. “My game was really good. I still have some room for improvement, but I was happy overall.”
Page wasn’t surprised at Conners’ performance and said all three of his Canadian players have been valuable this season.
“I kid people and say the three kids I have on my team from Canada anyone could have gotten them,” Page said. “They just weren’t highly recruited. I think they are the best in the country.”
Unfortunately other coaches have figured it out and Kent State might not have that semi-monopoly anymore.
“Recruiting has gotten so much harder,” Page said. “We have two full-time coaches working at it. That little person that we would find that no one knew about, those days are gone. Everyone knows about them.”