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India has gone from good to elite

BY BEN WOLFSON | FEBRUARY 10, 2011 7:10 AM

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Being a skilled golfer is nothing new for Vince India.

In high school he was a four-year MVP of the Deerfield (Ill.) High School team and either owns or shares every golf record there.

In college, he has been a fixture in the Hawkeyes’ starting lineup since his freshman season.

But now with a new approach to the game, he has gone from good to elite. He is ranked No. 8 in Golfweek’s men’s collegiate individual rankings.

“This summer I had to assess where I was on my game, and I figured out my mental attitude was just terrible,” India said. “I would try too hard and get worked up if I wasn’t hitting everything perfectly.”

In Iowa’s five tournaments this past fall, India said he tried not to dwell on a bad shot or let his emotions get to him. He credits head coach Mark Hankins with helping him control his emotions and stick to the plan during competition.



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He finished in the top 10 in all five of those tournaments and took medalist honors as the top finisher in both the Golfweek Conference Challenge — a title he shared with teammate Chris Brant — and the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate.

The Hawkeyes meet every Wednesday with Hankins for a “mental golf” session in which the team touches on subjects such as relaxation, positive self-talk, and having positive attitudes.

“These guys tend to be very hard on themselves; they’re their own worst critics,” Hankins said. “Trying to be positive as a team has been a really good step for us.”

Assistant coach Tyler Stith also has seen India’s game improve as a result of his mental approach.

“Vince is the type of player who expects a lot out of his game and at times he can be too hard on himself,” Stith said. “To focus on the positive self- talk has allowed his game to take the next step.
“He definitely is [looked at as a team leader]; he sets an example in the way he prepares and plays in tournaments.”

Besides focusing on the mental aspect of the game, India has worked hard to develop his wedge game and his short game to be on a level where he feels confident.

Last summer, India switched putters from a belly putter to a flat-stick center shafted model similar to the putter he used in high school.

“I think the big thing is the wedges, I’m hitting my short irons closer,” India said. “On top of that I’m putting better, so I’m going to make more putts inside 10 feet.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence on these greens this fall.”

The results from these improved parts of India’s game have shown up on his scorecard.

In a 14 rounds of golf during the fall season, India accumulated 53 birdies and only 32 bogeys.

“[Vince] enjoys working on video and seeing his golf swing and work on improvements there,”

Hankins said. “I’d say he was one of the better players on the team as a freshman, and he’s improved from that point [in his] stroke averages and some of his inconsistencies to managing his mental golf approach and his overall training.”

Another important part to India’s success, Hankins said, are his time-management skills. He not only knows when he needs to spend more time practicing on his golf game but also how to complete his schoolwork. The business major was named an academic All-American last spring.

As a senior, India is reaping the benefits of his dedication.

“I did a lot of practicing over the summer, and it’s nice to see all my hard work pay off,” he said.


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