Women’s golf beginning to explore internationally

BY J.T. BUGOS | OCTOBER 01, 2009 7:20 AM

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The Iowa women’s golf team is one of only three programs in the Big Ten that does not have a single international player on its roster. Purdue’s entire roster boasts players from countries not named the United States.

Hawkeye head coach Kelly Crawford and assistant coach John Owens are hoping they will soon be more global with their roster.

Recruiting an international player is almost no different from recruiting a player from Iowa City. Crawford said recruiting is based more on the age of the player, rather than where she is from.

Once NCAA rules permit coaches to make contact with athletes, information is sent out to anybody Iowa is interested in, regardless of location.

Crawford also said a lot of information about golfers comes to her via the Internet and other coaches.

“I don’t know about other sports, but from a golf perspective, there are junior programs and international junior programs,” she said. “Coaches are very diligent about sending information to coaches in the United States to make us aware of an athlete from other countries.”

Not only will information find Iowa’s coaches, but players will, too.

Throughout the summer, tournaments are played nationwide for athletes from all over the world compete in. Athletes from Europe, South Africa, and Canada will often join American Junior Golf Association tournaments, giving American coaches a closer look.

“Obviously, there’s the Canadian Championships, which we’ll probably start going to in the future,” Owens said. “But a lot of kids from Canada and other countries will play in the big tournaments in the United States as well.”

Getting to those tournaments may be an obstacle, though. Like other sports at Iowa, women’s golf is only given a certain amount of money for recruiting travel, and coaches must choose carefully which tournaments to go to once they are given their budget.

“There are a couple big tournaments every year that we’ll try to go to,” Owens said. “Primarily, it’s all of the top junior kids in the country, and throughout the world basically, in that one place at that one time. So we try to go to a couple really big ones, but a lot of local ones too.”

After seeing the golfers, the goal is to get them to Iowa City. NCAA rules only allow prospective recruits to take five official visits, so Crawford encourages athletes to make unofficial visits during their tournament travels over the summer.

Iowa, both the institution and its surrounding city, can often be a powerful tool in recruiting.

“Once they get on campus, they can see what Iowa is all about and what we have to offer, both academically and athletically,” Owens said. “I think we have a good chance at getting them once they see that.”

While seeing the campus and atmosphere can tempt athletes to don the Black and Gold, the best way to reel in an athlete is to have a prestigious program.

“What’s going to be the most beneficial to us is making our program better,” Crawford said. “As we continue to improve, and our program gets better and our ranking gets higher, that will speak volumes internationally and nationally.”

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