Father, son share different experiences but same success on golf course

Brian Spaen

No matter the differences in personalities or expectations of a father and son who find success in the same sport, the most important thing is what you get out of it.

“I wanted to be just like my dad and do what he did,” said senior golfer Nate McCoy. “I practiced what he did and I would be there with him.”

It all started with Nate’s dad, Mike McCoy, who grew up playing the game and became a five-time Iowa Amateur champion.

This carried over to Mike’s son, who got involved in the game and as he put it, Nate “had a club in his hand before he could even stand up.”

“He caddied for me,” Mike said. “So I took him to tournaments. He hung around golfers, me, [and went] to the driving range [to] play. He was really around the game for longer than he can remember.”

Having that experience has carried over into his later career life. While playing for the ISU men’s golf team, coach Andrew Tank has seen how being with his dad has “been really critical to his success.”

“Nate has learned so much from Mike by being around [his dad] as a young kid and caddying for him in all [his] tournaments,” Tank said. “It’s given Nate the opportunity to see the game played by the best players.”

While Nate embraced the moments he had with his dad, he found another form of the game that he started to enjoy.

“As I got older, I felt what it was like to be outside on my own,” Nate said. “I kept getting better and better. It was more fun to play and I like to be out there by myself.”

It wasn’t always perfect, though. Pressure and exhaustion can set in when so much of one activity is done over time.

“There was a time in high school where I played a string of tournaments,” Nate said. “When I got done, I got burned out and I actually tried to wrestle. Then I got back into golf about two weeks later.”

During his freshman year, Nate also took off a month after the season, which was the longest amount of time he’s ever spent away from the game. It was the constant travel along with playing in bad weather.

“They both love the game but treat it a little bit differently,” Tank said. “Mike could play a tournament every day of the year if he could schedule, while Nate likes to have time in between tournaments.”

While Mike started playing the game at an early age, there wasn’t nearly the expectations put on him because he said he didn’t have “any direct family influences.”

“I started playing when I was about 8 or 9 years old,” Mike said. “I had some cousins and uncles that played. There was some family linkage, but my parents didn’t play.”

Having a dad that’s noticed nationally gives you a lot to live up to. Tank said he believed that “adds some pressure and expectations for Nate.”

“He’s handled that so well and [has] really got to the point now where his game really speaks for itself,” Tank said. “The things that he’s done in the last couple years are really quite impressive.”

Nate’s leadership has also greatly shown on the course so far this season. Being the lone senior on the team, his goals are simply “trying to be positive” so the other players continue to be motivated.

“You try to set a good example [by] being positive and [giving] your all in practice,” Nate said. “You don’t want to give up because other guys might see that.”

Nate has his focus on turning pro when he is done at Iowa State. He wants to get his name out there and be known for his own accomplishments.

Mike’s hope will be for him to find the great positives it has on his life to look back on that he did.

“The competitive golf has been great,” Mike said. “I’ve had a lot of success. I’m a competitive person and maybe that’s the reason that gets you out to practice. But the real benefits come from the friendships, travels, experiences, and places you can be.

“There’s so much more to it, and looking back at it that’s the most satisfying and important.”