Three-week west coast swing awaits ISU men’s golf to begin season


Nick Voke, seen here at the Iowa State practice facility in October 2013, will return to the VCU Shootout on Sept. 21-22 to defend his individual title in 2014

Mike Randleman

Nearly five months have passed since the Iowa State men’s golf team last teed up competitively, but the Cyclones will try to pick up where they left off from their fall campaign that earned them a top-50 ranking.

Starting with the Alumni Match on Feb. 16 in Scottsdale, Ariz., an exhibition event that pairs current Cyclones with alumni, the team will begin a three-week west coast trip to begin the spring season.

“It’s a pretty casual event, but we do keep score. We’ll pair one Cyclone with three alumni and it’s the alumni’s best ball versus the Cyclone’s best ball,” said ISU coach Andrew Tank of the Scottsdale event. “What it really allows us to do, though, is get three good days of practice down in Arizona.”

Those three days of practice will be crucial, as it will provide an opportunity for the team to practice outdoors before its first two back-to-back tournaments, the Wyoming Desert Intercollegiate in Palm Springs, Calif. and the Big Four Match in Phoenix.

“We’ve got one of the greatest practice facilities, but we are limited in the fact that we can’t actually play a round of golf,” said freshman Nick Voke. “There are ways to go around it, but having the ability to have a round together and walk out and find your golf ball will be really nice.”

The Cyclones are looking forward to connecting with alumni and readjusting to playing in warm weather in Scottsdale, but the trip could also help solidify the fifth starting position entering the spring season.

In five fall tournaments, redshirt sophomore Collin Foster, redshirt junior Blake Waller and senior Zach Steffen split starts at the fifth spot, with Foster recording the best finish, a tie for 25th place at the VCU Shootout.

“Blake Waller and Duncan Croudis are going to be heading down to the alumni event [along with the four starters],” Tank said. “Over break and through our training camp, they’ve kind of come out as the two frontrunners for that fifth position. We’ll see how they do in Arizona and kind of keep evaluating it.”

Unlike Waller, Croudis has yet to make a start in the 2013-14 campaign, but has played in 49 rounds in his sophomore and junior seasons.

Despite the uncertainty that has persisted in the fifth spot, Tank is pleased with the work the team put in during the offseason, particularly at the new practice facility.

“We’re able to do more short game because of the indoor green. The technology with Trackman and video, that was a definite bonus from what we’ve had in the past,” Tank said. “From an overall team-building perspective, just having our own facility, I think, has helped the team bond.”

In the offseason, Tank also made it a point of emphasis to have the team prepared from a strength and conditioning standpoint, putting in an hour each day in the gym, six days per week.

“We’ve been working really hard,” said junior Sam Daley. “It’s probably the hardest I’ve seen the team and myself work since we’ve been here. The offseason’s been very productive.”

Tank even jumped in on occasion to work out with the team.

“He did alright, he was talking the talk,” Daley said of Tank. “He said he was going to come, but didn’t come right away because he was sick, but he jumped in for a couple [sessions]. It was always good to have him there, [and] he helped us with our posture drills.”

The hard work put in by the team, including Tank himself, has been a source of optimism as the Cyclones are striving to make it back to NCAA regionals after missing out in 2012-13.

“I feel like we’ve done a lot of great work, I’m really happy with everybody’s attitude and effort so far since we’ve been back after break,” Tank said. “I think the offseason’s been really beneficial for us, so I’m expecting great things.”