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Iowa golf opens indoor practice facility

BY KEVIN GLUECK | FEBRUARY 14, 2013 5:00 AM

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On a day on which the temperature was unusually high for February, a new indoor practice facility, designed for more normal Iowa winter weather, was opened for the golf program.

The Hoak Family Golf Complex officially debuted Wednesday in front of dozens of former letter winners from both the men’s and women’s teams. The $2 million facility includes two heated indoor-to-outdoor hitting bays, a complete indoor putting and chipping green, and a video analysis booth to review golfers’ swings.

Men’s head coach Mark Hankins got emotional during the ceremony multiple times as he gave his speech.

“This is somewhat overwhelming,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for our programs.”

Hankins came to Iowa with the vision of building a world-class facility for the Hawkeyes.

“Five years it took me to get this thing built,” he said. “It’s something we have to have here; we have an off-season here at Iowa.”

James Hoak, the eponym of the complex, was a three-time letter winner in golf at Iowa from 1938 to 1940.  Hoak lived with another former Iowa athlete who also has an athletics building named after him— Nile Kinnick. Like Kinnick, Hoak was a veteran of Word War II.

“He was a really special person around the Des Moines area and around the country in golf,” Hankins said. “We thought it was very appropriate we named after him.”

UI President Sally Mason was on hand to give her remarks on the opening of the Hoak Family Complex and what it means to the UI.

“We aspire to remain on the cutting edge, and this facility takes us to the cutting edge,” she said.

The golf team previously practiced inside by hitting into a net into the Field House, where it’s hard to judge if the ball was hit without a slice. Now, the team can hit the ball into the driving range, under heaters, and watch the ball’s complete flight.

The new facility has given an edge to Hankins’ recruiting, bringing current players in with the promise the facility would be completed.

Hankins said that the facility will be open to both the men’s and women’s golf teams from around 6 a.m. to 11 p.m, allowing ample time for players to come in whenever they want to practice.

“Even if I don’t schedule them to work on their game, if they’re a hard worker, it allows that hardest worker to really make improvement,” Hankins said.

The team practiced at the facility for the first time on Tuesday, and by all accounts, the players are really excited and couldn’t stay away, even during the ceremony. Sophomore Ian Vandersee made an appearance, clubs in hand.

“It’s incredible. It’s one of the best in the country,” he said. “Excited would be an understatement. We had seen the sketches for a year and a half or so, to see it come to life is nice to see.”


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