ISU men’s golf learns to cope with life on the road


Emily Hecht/Iowa State Daily

Unable to host a home tournament, the Iowa State men’s golf team must travel over 20,000 miles during the fall and spring seasons, both driving and flying, to participate in tournaments and events across the country.

Mike Randleman

At Iowa State, “Hilton Magic” and “Pack the Jack” are phrases that embody the home field advantages the basketball and football team receive.

For the Iowa State men’s golf team, no such advantage exists.

The Cyclones have not hosted a home tournament since 1993 and plans to host an event are not in the team’s immediate future.

“Hosting a tournament is great, it’s something that a lot of schools do, but it does require a lot of resources, a lot of time,” said ISU head coach Andrew Tank. “It’s something I’d like to do in the future, but it’s just something that hasn’t been a priority yet. But I’m not ruling it out.”

A primary reason for Iowa State’s inability to host an event is due to logistical reasons. The team often practices at The Harvester, which is a course players, as well as Tank, believe would be up to standard in terms of course quality.

The Harvester, however, is in Rhodes, Iowa, 40 miles from Ames and the Des Moines airport. In turn, lodging and travel concerns would be hard to solve if an event was hosted there.

“We don’t have a course that can fit that many teams with hotels,” said junior Scott Fernandez. “It’s even hard for us to stay there (at The Harvester) for a weekend and there’s only nine of us. Fitting 70 to 80 players over there, it’s just not possible.”

Ames has two golf courses in Veenker Memorial and Coldwater Golf Links, but the two are not up to par with the quality of courses standard for a college event.

“We would want it to be one of the best events in the country if we did host,” Tank said. “Right now, the resources and energy are being placed in other parts, but you never know. Someday, I think it would be great for our players, for the community to get more of an exposure to college golf and to see these great college players firsthand.”

For the time being, the team has learned to adapt to a travel-heavy schedule in which the team will log over 20,000 miles at season’s end.

Having to explain to friends and family that they cannot watch them play in Ames is a bit more difficult.

“I’ve had some good friends ask, ‘Hey, when do you have a home meet?’ so they can come and watch us, but unfortunately the nearest one is Iowa City,” said freshman Nick Voke.

Along with a lack of being able to have a lot of hometown support away from Ames, playing on the road at new courses provides further challenges.

“They set up the course so that it’d be very tough for us to get used to and they’re practicing in those conditions or those pin locations a few months beforehand,” said freshman Ruben Sondjaja of host teams. “One practice round isn’t enough to know the course, so it’s definitely an advantage for the home team.”

Despite playing outside the confines of Ames, the Cyclone golfers have still found support at tournaments around the country.

“We do have some parents support us at tournaments like in Phoenix, South Carolina, so we always have a little bit of support. It’s not crazy, but the little things make a difference,” Fernandez said. “There are also a lot of Iowa State fans (around the country). Even if they don’t know us, they just come over and watch us.”

Along with the small smattering of fan support, players understand how life on the road and juggling responsibilities can be a positive as some prepare to try their hand as touring professionals.

“Part of playing golf is you have to travel a lot and live out of a suitcase,” Voke said. “Some guys don’t enjoy it; personally I love it. I love going to new places, seeing new things. I don’t think it bothers anyone on the team. I think we’re quite fortunate in what we have.”