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Technology adds new twist to college golf

BY JESSIE SMITH | APRIL 20, 2010 7:30 AM

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The Iowa men’s golf team has competed in 16 different states and one other country during the last four years.

While the Hawkeye golfers may view the time away as a break from the notoriously unfriendly Iowa weather, the itinerary has the potential to leave Iowa golf fans out of the loop.

Technological advances, such as the NCAA’s decision in 1992 to use “Golfstat,” have solved the problem, making updates readily available to those who travel with the Hawkeyes and to anyone with Internet access. A banner on the site,, calls it the “official source for college golf scores and statistics.”

Laura Kelpin, the mother of sophomore Barrett Kelpin, uses the site for its live scoring. The amenity helps her stay involved with her son’s golf career even when he competes halfway across the country.

“[The technology] makes you feel like you’re a part of it,” Laura Kelpin said. “Not just for your son but for the team, too. It helps you get to know all the players and get a much better sense of what other teams are out there.”

The website is the official home of all men’s and women’s collegiate golf rankings, statistics, and schedules. Fans can camp out in front of their computers and see how certain players, or teams, are doing.

“When Ryan [Marks] was at the U.S. Amateur, half the town of Warrensburg [Missouri] was watching it online,” father Craig Marks joked. “It brought the productivity of the whole community down quite a bit, because they’re all watching it at home and seeing what was going on.”

This accessibility proves to be useful to more than just dedicated fans — it also aids in recruiting and golfers’ ability to attain recognition.

Iowa head coach Mark Hankins said the technological benefits applied over the weekend during the team’s first home tournament since September 2006 — the Hawkeye Invitational at Finkbine — when Missouri-Kansas City senior Alex Hogben took the individual crown.

“If you are a great player, you need to be recognized,” Hankins said. “You play Missouri-Kansas City, and this kids wins. Before, you would have never known him because he always plays against smaller schools … so it’s nice that no matter what you win now, it’s on live scoring, so you get you’re recognition and anyone in the country can see it.”

The technology also eliminates the past sense of wonder that used to lurk on the golf courses.

Golfers now have the ability to know stoke-by-stroke where they stand in the leader board.

Hankins said this extra knowledge has the potential to tweak the strategies of both the coaches and players.

“I don’t want my players to be reactive,” he said. “If I look down and see some guy hits a triple bogey, I don’t run out there and say, ‘Hey what are you doing.’ I don’t want to be reactive just because I can be now.”

Barrett Kelpin’s father, Virgil Kelpin, was quick to praise the convenience of the technology, but he also joked about its addictive quality.

“It’s very stressful,” he said. “I wish it updated every hole rather than every three holes — waiting in between the updates is painful. I’ve broken more computers in the past couple of years by hitting refresh so much.”

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