Men's golf halfway done

BY BEN SCHUFF | OCTOBER 13, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa men's golf team has two tournaments remaining this fall, and the golfers know there's work to be done.

On Monday, Ian Vandersee said he doesn't think he and his teammates "will ever get where we want to be."

The redshirt freshman explained by saying the team has the attitude of never settling for anything. It's an attitude Vandersee said head coach Mark Hankins is preaching a lot this year.

"Something we all feel inside is that desire to get better and better and be relentless out there," Vandersee said.

Exactly where the No. 24-ranked Hawkeyes expect to go is still uncertain at this unofficial midpoint of the fall season.

Hankins' squad last played tournament golf on Oct. 2, in the final round of the Rod Myers Invitational. Iowa's next competitive round won't be for another 10 days when the squad plays in Atlanta in the U.S. Collegiate Championship.   

The current three-week stretch of nothing but practice allows each player ample time to work on specific aspects of their games.

Sophomore Steven Ihm said he's been focusing on his putting over the past week and a half, and he will continue to do so until the next tournament.

"Competition putting can save you five or six shots a round," the 19-year-old said. "If you lose that mental willpower to make every putt and you just start slapping at it in practice, then you're probably going to slap at it in the next tournament."

Ihm is one of three Iowa golfers who have recorded a top-10 finish thus far. Joining him are Chris Brant and Barrett Kelpin, who have combined for three top 10s between them.

After finishing second behind Brant in the season's first event, Kelpin tied for sixth at the Rod Myers at Duke.

The pair of seniors both mentioned consistency as an area that needs to be improved over the final two tournaments of the fall season.  

"We've been right in there every tournament with a chance to finish right toward the top," Kelpin said. "We haven't really had our greatest final round yet. Once we can put three good rounds together, I think we'll have a good thing going."

But the three-week competitive break also brings a potentially repetitive schedule of practice day after day for the majority of October.  

Ihm said it's "definitely" a challenge to make sure they get the most out of every practice, since it's all they will be doing for three weeks.           

In order the keep the team mentally sharp, Hankins held practice on Monday at Blue Top Ridge golf course in Riverside and at the Amana Colonies golf course on Oct. 7. The fifth-year head coach said he hopes the change of scenery keeps his golfers thinking while out on the course.

"You get lazy mentally if you play the same golf course — I don't care how good it is," he said.

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