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Staff and facilities seal fate for Iowa’s out-of-state golfers DePalma, Phillips

BY RYAN RODRIGUEZ | APRIL 11, 2013 5:00 AM

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Usually when one looks at a recruitment map for athletes at the University of Iowa, they get a picture of a cluster of students from in-state and the surrounding Midwest: Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska, and other states.

For the most part, the Iowa women’s golf team is no exception. Of the nine golfers on the roster, two are from Indiana, four are from Illinois, and one is from Iowa. However, that still leaves two unaccounted for: junior Anna DePalma and sophomore Shelby Phillips.

Their exclusion on the previous list is the sole reason they buck the trend of the typical Midwestern recruit at Iowa: DePalma hails from San Clemente, Calif., and Shelby Phillips is originally from Gilbert, Ariz.

Being one of the flattest and most northern states in the Midwest, Iowa is known for having a chilly, windy fall season and freezing, brutal winters that can sometimes accumulate more than 20 inches of snow and stretch well into April. Not exactly ideal golfing weather.

Given the weather conditions of the state, as well as its location away from their hometowns, the question for DePalma and Phillips remains: why Iowa?

DePalma actually played her first two seasons at the University of Hawaii before transferring to Iowa this past fall. For her, she said the reasons to transfer were obvious.

“I came for Coach Menzel, as well as the team and the facility and the excellent program Iowa has to offer,” DePalma said “I love her work ethic and I love the way she treats everyone fairly. I respected how she was running the program here, and it just seemed like a really good fit for me. Im really excited to be here.”

Great coaching may go a long way, as does the brand-new, multi-million-dollar Hoak Family Golf Facility that allows the men’s and women’s teams to chip, putt, and drive inside away from the elements no matter the season. Weather is always a factor to consider when choosing a school for a sport such as golf; however, for Phillips, she actually viewed the conditions as a positive.

“I actually chose Iowa just because I wanted to learn to play in different weather and different climates, and I thought this was a good place to be,” Phillips said. 

She also noted the adjustments that playing in Iowa weather has made to her game.

“Distance-wise with my clubs and wearing more jackets, as well as learning little tricks with rain and stuff has all been an adjustment,” she said.

Menzel also noted to the elements playing a part in recruitment of Iowa golfers.

“I think players that come here realize that if you’re going to play at the next level and be competitive, you’re going to have to be able to play in all weather conditions,” Menzel said. “It’s not always going to be Arizona and California, so I think they feel like they can come here and grow as a player and add value to their game.”

At the very least, that the Hawkeyes were able to recruit two top prospects from so far out of state may speak about the positive direction the program that’s been developed over the years.

“I think we should be very proud of the facilities we have here at Iowa,” Menzel said. “I think it speaks to the fact that players feel like they can come here and really improve their game every day.”


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