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Playing as individuals on a team

BY COURTNEY BAUMANN | OCTOBER 14, 2014 5:00 AM

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Golf is not a game that a coach can substitute team members in and out of during a tournament. If a player is on, she’s on. If she’s not, she better figure it out on her own because there is little to no opportunity for outside help.

Golf is a very individual sport — unless it’s played it as a part of a team.

“We talk about playing golf as a team all the time,” Iowa women’s golf head coach Megan Menzel said. “You have to take care of your own game, your own preparation, your own strategy, because that differs from player to player,”

What is it, then, that makes playing for a team different from playing as an individual?

“When competing as a team, your focus is more on, ‘I want to do well for so and so,’ because I know she’s going to be out there doing the same for me,” junior Amy Ihm said.

Menzel worries that extra thoughts about teammates can add unwanted stress for her golfers.

“I think sometimes players can get caught up in worrying what their teammates think or maybe they’re worried about letting someone down instead of focusing on what’s really important,” Menzel said.

What is important then, is playing well as an individual so that in turn, that individual will play well for their team.

At tournaments, coaches number each of their golfers one through five. Those players are assigned to groups consisting of players with the same number from different schools. This means that teammates rarely see each other while they are out on the course.

“The hardest part about playing golf on a team would be not physically being able to connect with teammates on the course,” Ihm said. “In contact sports there are a lot of high fives and words of encouragement, so we really have to fuel off of our own games individually and find something that keeps us going out there.”

Because they are unable to play together in competitions, the teammates grow together through practice.

Before coming to Iowa, freshman golfer Jessica Ip had never played golf on a team because she was the only one to play for her high school, and she played as an individual in the summer.

“Here, there’s really just this team dynamic that makes practice a lot more fun and a lot more interesting,” Ip said. “I think that it kind of really helped me develop just because I’m working with other people who are working toward the same goal instead of it just being me out there by myself.”

Although golf is an individual sport, if the nervous thoughts about putting on a good performance for others are put aside, playing it as a part of a team is something that can be positive.

“If I have a bad hole, I can trust my teammates to have my back and pick me up,” Ihm said.

Follow @cbomb12 on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa women’s golf team.


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