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Iowa men's golf is fueled by friendly competition

BY KEVIN GLUECK | FEBRUARY 20, 2013 5:00 AM

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The men’s golf team is like most sports teams. The athletes practice together, travel together, eat together — some even live together.

But when it comes to competing, each athlete stands on his own. The players use their own shots, make their own putts, and tally their own scores. This makes golf much different from other team sports.

In a way, said Iowa men’s golf head coach Mark Hankins, this aspect of golf is good. His athletes compete against one another on a daily basis.

“They all would like to be the No. 1 man,” Hankins said. “We said that if you don’t want to be the No. 1 man on the team, you don’t even have to be on this team, because if you’re OK with being the second-best player on your own team, you’re not competitive enough for this team.”

The golfers go through a qualifying contest to decide who travels to each weekend’s tournament.

“All that competition hopefully prepares us better for the tournament,” Hankins said. “We do a lot of competition to get ready for competition.”

The team will go out at the beginning of the fall and play rounds at one of the six area courses that the team plays on. Once the Hawkeyes get into more tournament play, the coaches choose the lineup based on stroke averages the golfers have accumulated through out the year.

Junior Steven Ihm says the friendly competition fuels each player.

“It’s not like we’re at each other’s throats, but we definitely want to qualify and be on the team,” he said and laughed. “Everyone wants to qualify, but you got to be able to stand up for yourself and put in the time and the extra work to try to outdo your teammates.”

Hankins said this year’s team is less-experienced than past teams. There are no seniors on this year’s squad, a big drop from last year, which had five.

The squad is quickly gaining experience, though — the Hawkeyes have played the toughest schedule in the Big Ten this year.

“We’re getting good-quality challenges in these tournaments,” Hankins said. “That’s the only way you can get to be the best is to play against the best.”

Sophomore Joseph Winslow said the team doesn’t have a defined leader but rather a collection of knowledge shared among each.

“It’s bring us together in the fact that we’re all closer in age rather than having a huge age gap between a senior and a freshman,” he said. “From that standpoint, it’s as if the team is led as a team, rather than looking to put the pressure on one or two guys.”

At the end of the day, the golfers play against themselves, which lends itself to doing well as a group in competition.

“It’s definitely unique for a college sport,” Ihm said. “It’s almost like wrestling in a way that you try to win your individual match. In you do well, the team does well.”


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