ISU men’s golf opens season at Gopher Invitational


Photo: Huiling Wu/ Iowa State Daily

ISU golfer Scott Fernandez practices for the upcoming match on Monday, Sept. 10, at Cold Water Golf Field.

Mike Randleman

An unknown golf course and the No. 2 team in the country are among the challenges that await the ISU men’s golf team at this weekend’s Gopher Invitational.

The event, which will take place Sept. 8-9 in Independence, Minn., features a field of 12 teams. California, the No. 2 team in the preseason Golf World/Nike Golf Coaches poll, will be in the field.

“It’s exciting to get started,” said ISU coach Andrew Tank. “I think it’ll give us an idea of where our games are at. We’re playing against good competition on a great golf course. Just like every year, you’re excited, as a coach, to see where your team’s at.”

The good competition alluded to by Tank includes the Golden Bears, who return as defending champions and advanced to the NCAA semifinals last season.

Also in the field is No. 10 New Mexico, which made it to the NCAA quarterfinals last season.

Kent State, which boasts last year’s Gopher Invitational champion Corey Conners, is also slated to compete.

Although a strong field is stacked up against the Cyclones, the opportunity to compete against some of the best comes as a welcome challenge.

“We’ve got a really good team with experience. We definitely could be up there [on the leaderboard],” said junior Scott Fernandez. “We’re playing against really good teams, and we’re excited to try to catch up with them.”

The tough competition is not the only obstacle in the way for the Cyclones. The Gopher Invitational is a new event on the schedule, with a new course to boot.

Windsong Farm Golf Club is a 7,380-yard track that expects to play firm and fast.

To prepare for these conditions, the team has practiced and held qualifying rounds to determine this weekend’s starters at The Harvester Golf Club in Rhoads, Iowa, a course with similarities to Windsong Farm.

“It can certainly play long, if it’s windy that’s when the course gets really difficult,” Tank said. “It’s a similar course to The Harvester where we’ve been playing at this weekend; it’s the same kind of style. I feel that’s a nice advance for us going in.”

The Gopher Invitational will also serve as a sort of homecoming for Tank, who previously served on Minnesota’s staff.

“I used to run that tournament when I was an assistant coach at Minnesota. So for like 4 or 5 years I did all the behind the scenes stuff,” Tank said. “It’s going to be fun to go up there now to enjoy it and appreciate all the hard work that goes on behind it and see some familiar faces around Minnesota.”