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College golf recruiting is an interesting landscape

BY COURTNEY BAUMANN | OCTOBER 22, 2014 5:00 AM

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The four freshmen on the Iowa women’s golf team come from different backgrounds, and they took different paths to become Hawkeyes.

Those four are just a fraction of the large talent pool the Hawkeyes choose from when recruiting, and deciding which ones to go after takes a lot of decisions from coaches.

Before traveling to any tournaments or contacting any golfers, the coaches have to narrow their options. Iowa has contacts from all around the world to help thin the field.

However, the recommendations they take are not just limited to those contacts.

“Recruiting is so wide open it’s unbelievable,” assistant coach Todd Selders said. “We could have someone off the streets call us and go, ‘Hey I saw this girl, you might want to check her out,’ and we’ll pay attention to it...Recruiting is just so mysterious.”

Selders does a majority of the recruiting, traveling to Europe, Canada, and all over the United States.

From 2006, prior to Selders taking over as assistant coach in 2013, the Hawkeyes hadn’t had an international player on their roster. They now have two — Elisa Suarez from Spain and Jessica Ip from Canada.

Suarez originally hired a person to help her get noticed. The Spaniard sent her information — golf swings, academic reports, and previous golf results — to Texas in hopes of getting recruited.

Like Suarez, Ip had some help. Her golf pro and coach handled contact with colleges. Anna Kim and Morgan Kukla took a different route.

“I personally had no idea in the recruiting process, because there was no help available around me,” said Kim, whom Selders initially contacted via email. “Because of that, I had to research and build my own résumé.”

Kukla did things on her own. She pursued a possible Hawkeye relationship by emailing Menzel.

With thousands of junior golf tournaments taking place all over the world, it’s tough for Iowa to decide which ones to go to. To Selders, the most important factor is the number of possible recruits playing in that competition.

“We just check the field and say, ‘Hey, we’ve got five players that we’re looking at in this field so we need to be there and be seen,’ ” he said. “Then we go.”

Once the coaches decide whom they would like to pursue, there is a lot of back and forth in a variety of media.

For Suarez and Ip, the process was straightforward.

“I liked to Skype and talk face-to-face with all of the coaches to see how the college worked,” Suarez said. “I had maybe 15 offers from different colleges, and I just chose Iowa after I Skyped with Todd.”

But it isn’t always smooth sailing. Both Kukla and Kim were told “no” before eventually finding a spot on the team.

Kim had been in-and-out of contact with Menzel before the coach told her the spot was filled. She was looking at other schools when Selders emailed her saying a spot opened up.

Kukla had to fight for the opportunity to be a Hawkeye. 

“[The recruiting process] was stressful. It was a lot of emails going back and forth and I got told ‘maybe’ a lot of times, and then ‘no,’ ” Kukla said. “But I was lucky because Iowa ended up giving me a shot.

Each golfer who signs on with a team is seen as a small victory. But they aren't all victories.

“There are always disappointments, but there are so many good players nowadays that if we miss one, we’ll find another one,” Selders said. “You just can’t take it personally, and you have to stay positive and go after the next one.”

That isn’t to say Selders is dissatisfied with the talent the team does bring in.

“All four of the freshmen have been good additions to the team,” he said. “It’s good to get some new players in here to help the older ones. That’s how we get better.”


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