Men’s golf stays in shape

BY JESSIE SMITH | MARCH 10, 2010 7:30 AM

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The 35th-ranked Iowa men’s golf team opened practice inside the Bubble March 5 just as one might imagine.

Some players did warm-up stretches, and others popped on their headphones and hit a few easy shots to get loose for the three-hour skill-training session ahead.

But Iowa head coach Mark Hankins’ group starts practice four days a week quite differently.

The team runs stairs and does core exercises in Carver-Hawkeye Arena every Monday and Friday morning with spin classes and swimming workouts in the Field House every Tuesday and Thursday.

The squad also mixes up the routine by doing “hot yoga” on Wednesday afternoons.

Aside from conditioning, the Hawkeye golfers dedicate approximately nine hours a week to putting, chipping, hitting, and general training. And their extensive training schedule is what Hankins hopes will prepare his nine-man roster for its upcoming 36-hole competition days away in Texas, Arizona, and Florida.

“I feel like we can control how good of shape we’re in,” Hankins said. “We can’t control the weather. We can’t control different things on golf the courses. But we can control not getting tired over a three-round tournament.”

This arduous in-season workout provides the golfers with plenty of physical gains. Hankins’ squad also sees the mental benefits of such a rigorous routine.

Sophomore Chris Brant said the tough workouts build a mental edge that will directly help the Hawkeyes’ performances on the links.

“We believe they build mental toughness,” he said. “If you’re going up that last flight of stairs, and you don’t want to, you have to push through it, and that relates a lot to golf.”

The weekly hour-and-15-minute yoga class on Wednesday is the latest addition to the team’s workout schedule. Hankins added the class to improve his group’s mental toughness and also to address the golfers’ inflexibility.

“I think the yoga was an addition we put in there because time and time again our guys have noted their lack of flexibility,” Hankins said. “They’re just very inflexible, which can cause injuries from overuse and bad posture in your golf swing.”

Sophomore Barrett Kelpin said he thinks the addition of the yoga class is something the entire team benefits from.

“I like the yoga a lot. Running stairs just really keep us in shape for the days we have to walk 36-holes,” he said. “But everyone on the team is inflexible in some part of his body, so [yoga] really helps us out a lot.”

The Hawkeyes’ in-season training schedule may seem lengthy, but the Iowa golfers acknowledge it will pay off in the end.

“The more you work, the more you expect to play well, because you put in the time,” junior Brad Hopfinger said. “So I think [the workouts] are really beneficial for us.”

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