Finkbine ready to host after long winter

BY KEVIN GLUECK | APRIL 12, 2013 5:00 AM

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Golf course superintendent Mike Hoffman has had a lot to do in the past weeks. Winter has seemingly ended — well, sort of — meaning preparation for the 2013 season at Finkbine Golf Course has begun.

There’s one thing, though.

The Iowa men’s golf team will host the Hawkeye-Great River Entertainment this weekend, an event that normally doesn’t happen until about a month into the golf season.

“This has actually been fairly slow spring coming out of winter compared to the last two or three years,” Hoffman said. “We’ve really only mowed most things other than greens once.”

The lack of substantial snow for much of the past winter has left the course a little brown as the spring begins, but wet weather this past week has greened up the grass for the upcoming tournament. However, it may be too much rain, too fast.

“Ideally, I would’ve liked to see a half inch to an inch [of rain] Monday, because that really got things going,” Hoffman said. “Even if we could mow some of the rough areas, it’s just too wet now.”

Hoffman estimated that at this point last year; the course had been mowed about “a dozen” times, which is something that is key to keep the different lengths of grass on the course consistent.

Even as the course is reaching near championship-level conditions, the upcoming weather could come into play, too. With a low of 28 degrees Friday night, leading into Saturday morning, and a low of 38 degrees leading into Sunday morning, the 9 a.m. shotgun starts could face some frost.

“Our biggest concern right now is that [the players] on a pretty tight schedule, because they’re playing 36 holes Saturday,” Hoffman said. “We can’t go out and start doing any of our prep work until the frost is off.”

Sophomore Brian Bullington said he is confident the course will be in pretty good shape.

“It’s a little slower; in the last two or three days, we’ve had rain that has greened it up,” Bullington said. “They’ve been cutting the greens, and they’re getting faster. By Saturday, they’ll be in good condition.”

Iowa head coach Mark Hankins said even though the team is at home, this tournament will be entirely different from competitions to which they’re accustomed.

“We played in front of no one last week. This week, it’ll be the total opposite,” he said. “We have more people following us than they’ll have all year long. They have to manage the ability to have their friends out there, distractions of staying at home and not in a hotel that’s managed. Just a lot of different things.”

Despite the added distractions and the less than ideal weather compared with other places the squad has played, junior Steven Ihm said he is excited at the chance to play in the Hawkeye State.

“Most of us are from the Midwest, so this is just another spring round of golf for us,” Ihm said. “It’s just a good chance to play on our home course and, hopefully, put up some good rounds.”

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