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Iowa men's golf trains uniquely

BY TOMMY REINKING | SEPTEMBER 20, 2012 6:30 AM

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While most might assume training for golf consists of simply heading out to the links on a daily basis, the truth for the Iowa men’s golf team is far different.

The team has used many different training activities in the past, ranging from running, swimming, and even yoga. This not only makes the swingers better, but makes them better athletes overall.

“People don’t know how much conditioning we actually need,” sophomore Joseph Winslow said. “We carry around our bags that weigh about 25 to 30 pounds for five hours a day at tournaments. An untrained person would be dead tired halfway through the round.”

This season, the team has been too busy qualifying for and playing in tournaments to set up a regular training routine. The squad will begin training soon, however, because its next tournament isn’t until Oct. 13-14, when the club heads to Duke for the Rod Myers Invitational.

As fall approaches, head coach Mark Hankins said the team will begin five-day-a-week conditioning. In years past, the players have done yoga, weightlifting, running stairs, and core strengthening.

Hankins has also experimented with swimming and spinning to train the golfers.

Different training techniques come at different times. For instance, the Hawkeyes don’t lift weights during the busiest times of competition season because too much strength work can disrupt a golfer’s swing. The team will start weight lifting “later in the fall,” Hankins said, once the tournaments start to slow down and the winter off-season approaches.

“We’re trying to shape them into better athletes,” he said. “Without training, the body gets out of whack. We try to create symmetry to avoid injuries. Strength is the last thing we go for. Training raises flexibility, fitness, and teaches proper technique.”

Hankins said there are two other factors that make planning a workout schedule for the players more difficult. That Finkbine Golf Course is public means the team waits until the course is less busy to go out and play.

The players themselves also have night classes that training, both on and off the course, must be scheduled around. Hankins said it’s a continuous balance act to get all the players all the training they need.

Probably the biggest part of the team’s training regimen is what Hankins called “mental game skills.” Once a week, he and assistant coach Dan Holterhaus speak to the players about topics such as positive self-talk and life goal settings.

“The mental aspect of the game is very important,” Hankins said. “All the concepts we teach are continuously present in playing. We teach the players to be their biggest fan and to pump themselves up; give themselves a pat on the back.”

Iowa golfer Ryan Marks said that the “mental game skills” help prepare him for each tournament in a way that physical training doesn’t.

“It really gives us a better perspective,” the junior said. “There’s a lot of talk about taking it one shot at a time and staying in the present. If we made a mistake earlier, it’s best to move on. It’s not the end of the world.”

Hankin’s training programs may be unique, but Steven Ihm said the training gives the Black and Gold the best chance to win in each tournament.

“It’s really helpful to be in shape,” Ihm said. “On our longest days, we wake up at 6 a.m. and don’t get done until 7 p.m. Players have to be pretty physically fit to play day-in and day-out like we do.”


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