Practice is important for Iowa women’s golfers


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Unlike football, basketball, or wrestling, golf is not an incredibly physically demanding sport.

However, Iowa women’s golf head coach Megan Menzel organizes practice so that her golfers — and their games — will stay in tip-top shape.

“To warm up before practice, the players are looking at doing something dynamic, to get their bodies ready,” Menzel said.

The “dynamic” workouts usually involve some type or jumping — either ropes or jacks — as well as throwing a weighted medicine ball, swinging weighted clubs, and stretching to make sure the players are flexible and ready to go.

This is also helpful for avoiding common golf injuries, like sore backs, elbows, and shoulders. 

“I warm up by stretching and foam rolling,” senior Shelby Phillips said. “Just getting my body loose before I start playing.”

Nicole Rae, who has been struggling with a back pain since March, stressed the importance of warming up before practice.

“I usually stretch and foam roll my back, then do some leg swings against a wall to open up my hips,” the senior said. “It’s really important to warm up now that it’s getting cold so we can keep our muscles loose and prevent injuries.”

After warm-ups, the Hawkeyes go to work. Practice varies by the day, depending on what the team needs to work on as a whole.

Menzel and assistant coach Todd Selders look at statistics from the previous tournament, which often help dictate what practice will look like.

“We build the practice around the areas that we need to work on,” Menzel said. “Each week will have both structured time and then time for the players to work on what they feel like they need to do.”

 For most players, this consists of hitting golf balls on the driving range or working on drills to become more consistent in areas such as club path — or the motion of each golfer’s swing.

“I always start by putting about 20 balls between two sticks at four feet to get a feel for having a straight-through path,” Rae said.

Still, there is always one thing that remains constant. Short game — chipping and putting — is something that Menzel works into practice every day.

“Short game is something that is part of every practice in some way,” she said. “We know that if we continue to work on that part of the game, the scoring averages will continue to come down.”

Because Finkbine Golf Course is more than 7,200 yards long, Menzel and Selders have a lot of ground to cover in making sure that every golfer is taken care of and helped during practice.

This is not a problem, though, golfers say.

“[The coaches] are pretty accessible,” Phillips said. “Normally, they are on the par 3s, which are almost every 4-5 holes. Sometimes, they drive around in a cart which you can wave down to get help.”

Having their offices at Finkbine is also helpful, according to Rae. The Iowa golf facility, which opened in early 2013, allows for the golfers to reach their coaches for help whenever they need it.

“When we need a quick fix, our coaches are always there,” Rae said. “Their offices are at our facility now so it’s been great having them there all the time so we can have them help us whenever we need.”

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

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