We had the pleasure of watching the ISU men’s golf team play a qualifying round at The Harvester on Saturday afternoon. They are a great bunch of young guys and their golf swings are amazing. It was magical to watch. The conditions were perfect – blue skies and no wind.
There are eight guys in the team – 2 from Spain, 2 from Australia, 3 Americans and our very own Kiwi. They are a mix of sophomores (second years), juniors (third years) and a couple of seniors (last year). They are coached by Andrew Tank (referred to as Coach Tank) who is from Minnesota. He has been the head coach since 2010. They also have an assistant coach – Chad Keohane (referred to as Coach Chad). We walked a few holes with Coach Chad – he had just joined the team in August and was enjoying being in Iowa with the guys. He had tried his hand on the tour but it was tough going.
After golf on Saturday Nick and his two Australian teammates Reuben and Sam came for a BBQ. They are great guys and we had a great night. Nick stayed the night with us as they had another qualifying round on Sunday morning at The Harvester. They also played on Friday and will have another 54 holes the next weekend – this is to determine the top 5 who will travel to the first tournament in West Virginia in a couple of weeks. After this weekend’s 54 holes Nick is in 4th position – not bad given he is making a comeback after breaking his collar bone skateboarding – say no more! He is now banned from skateboarding!
After golf on Sunday we went into Ames and had lunch with most of the team at Hickory Park Restaurant. This place is a large diner and a bit of a tradition for the boys after playing The Harvester. I think they all got the Hickory Special – chicken, ribs, mashed potatoes and fries – great carbo loading for USD9.95!
Next stop was the ping pong table at the Lied – Steve needed to redeem himself after the tennis. Again Nick has improved and managed to take one game off Steve but Steve won all the other games. Reuben and Sam also came to have a game – Reuben was pretty good too. Steve certainly got a good workout.
We then went to check out The Golf Performance Center, home for the Iowa State men’s and women’s golf programs, which debuted in the fall of 2013.
Located just 3 miles from campus, the facility ranks as one of the finest of its kind nationally. The 16-acre home for Cyclone golf was built at a cost of $2 million and is used solely by the Iowa State golf teams, providing ISU student-athletes with all the amenities they need for individual development.
World-renowned architect Keith Foster designed the complex. Foster and his team have provided renovations to Augusta National, Southern Hills Country Club and Colonial Country Club. Some of Foster’s original designs include: The Quarry (San Antonio, Texas), ranked as the top public golf course in Texas by Golf Digest in 1996 and The Harvester (Rhodes, Iowa), ranked as the best golf course in Iowa multiple times.
It is WOW!
They have four covered bays that open out onto this amazing looking driving range. In the winter it snows for about three months but they can still use the driving range as the bays are heated! They also have nine holes around the range where they can practice all manner of shots – five of the nine greens have been inspired by a different architect. They also have bunkers and water hazards. They have a computer room set up with trackman so they can hit balls and analyse their swings. To top it off they have an indoor putting green that is also heated so they can use it in the winter. They also have this large common area with a kitchen, lounge, ping pong table and dining room. Apparently the Golf Channel is constantly on the TV in the lounge area.
These practice facilities are very impressive and one of the best in the country. I think Nick is still pinching himself. To get a great education and to train in these facilities on a daily basis is amazing. It is all laid on for them – they even had the Taylor Made club fitting trailer and rep visit them on Saturday and a lot of them got brand new clubs fitted just for them at no cost.
They work hard with gym workout sessions three mornings a week at 6am. They then practice every afternoon from 2pm to 6pm and travel to tournaments in the weekends. In between the golf commitments they have to do their studies and maintain good grades. In saying that they really are living the dream – good on them! Steve wants to go back to school : )