Senior golfers lead by example

BY BEN WOLFSON | APRIL 13, 2011 7:20 AM

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Team leaders are often portrayed as outspoken people that give inspirational speeches and will their way to victory.

These types don’t exist for the Iowa men’s golf team. Seniors Brad Hopfinger and Vince India have a different style.

“I think Vince and I have always known and thought the best way to lead is by our scores,” Hopfinger said. “Golf is such an individual sport, I think the best way we can lead is to take care of our own games.”

The two are also the team’s two best golfers. In the college individual rankings from Golfweek.com, India is currently No. 8 in the nation, and Hopfinger is No. 64. They’ve helped Iowa soar to as high as No. 9 in Golfstat’s team rankings this season.

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After the 2010 season ended, India and Hopfinger realized that to lead the Hawkeyes to the next level, they would have to become even more dedicated in their day-to-day routines.

Besides leading on the field, the duo led off the field — both were named academic All-Americans, the first time since 1995 an Iowa men’s golfer achieved the honor.

“Especially when it comes close to the postseason, we need to set an example behind the scenes as well,” India said. “As it gets nice out, you can be pressured into going out and having some fun with your friends, but we have to remember golf is more important at this time.”

“Until the season is over, we have to practice hard every day, and we can’t show up and give less than 100 percent.”

The two seniors have been a model of consistency. India has top-five finishes in every medal-play tournament this fall, and Hopfinger has top-10 finishes at the Fighting Irish Golf Classic, the Rod Myers Invitational, and the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate.

India said that shooting low scores is a more effective method of leadership.

“I think it’s the best way to communicate leadership to other people, so when they see it, they understand what you’re doing … stuff such as preparation and work ethic,” India said.

Another key factor in golf is trust.

The team’s lineup — India, Hopfinger, and juniors Chris Brant, Barrett Kelpin, and Brad George, who will compete for Iowa on Saturday at the Hawkeye TaylorMade/Adidas Invitational — have been starting together for most of their careers.

“We don’t need anyone leading verbally, and itdoesn’t happen on this team,” head coach Mark Hankins said. “This isn’t a ‘team-team,’ it’s an individual sport played as a team, and it doesn’t help to worry about your teammates. You’ve got to prepare yourself and create trust in your team by making sure everyone knows you’re working as hard as you can be to do your best.

“You don’t get to ninth in the country without guys being individual leaders and working hard to be the best they can be.”

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