International players bring unique stories to golf team


Photo: Tim Reuter/Iowa State Dai

Sam Daley, of Australia; Duncan Croudis, of New Zealand; Scott Fernandez, of Spain; and Borja Virto, of Spain, practice at Veenker Golf Course on Wednesday, Nov. 9.

Brian Spaen

Imagine heading to a different country and thinking about the different lifestyle that’s there compared to everything you are used to in the United States.

“There’s a lot to get used to and a lot of changes,” said sophomore Duncan Croudis, from New Zealand. “For example, converting meters to yards. Things are just different over here, [but now] I’m pretty much getting used to it.”

There’s many different problems that the four international players will run into rather than the five domestic players on the ISU men’s golf team. Coach Andrew Tank believes that everything is related “from a golf standpoint.”

“There are certain things, [like] playing on golf courses measured in meters instead of yards,” Tank said. “Getting them comfortable with how far they can hit all of their different clubs and playing in yards is certainly important to them.”

What’s interesting to those around the team is that while each hole on every course represents its own unique challenges, there still some differences from country to country.

“[Another part of the transition process is] helping them understand some of the differences the golf course is designed here in the U.S. versus to what they’re used to in their home country,” Tank said. “Ultimately it’s not too different, but making sure [they know] there’s different types of shots, lies or grass.”

That transition, however, doesn’t relate to everybody.

“A golf course is a golf course,” said freshman Sam Daley. “You have to judge each from its own merit. The grass is a bit different. The climate is a bit hotter [in Australia] and the courses are bit longer [in America].”

Daley is the youngest of the group of international players. While he has seen success as being ranked No. 3 among all Australian juniors, he continues to have “a good working relationship” between his previous coach Mark Victorsen and his current coaches at Iowa State.

“We talk about where my game’s progressing and what I’ve been working on with Andrew and Patrick [Datz] and making sure I’m on top of my game,” Daley said. “[We also make sure] everything I’m practicing is real effective.”

Working with a coach back in their home country isn’t uncommon. Croudis also still works with his coach, Alan Rose, from New Zealand.

“I send him videos of my swing and he gives me feedback on it,” Croudis said. “He’ll give me drills to do. Coach Tank and [Rose], they work together to figure out what I’m going to work on during the offseason.”

One thing that Tank likes to do is establish that relationship with their previous coaches. Not only do they “know more about them and their game” than he does, but it helps them get comfortable with their surroundings.

“It’s difficult for their coach from home to monitor their progress from across the world,” Tank said. “I spend quite a bit of time on the phone and using Skype and exchanging emails with their coaches back home to give them updates. I think it’s a huge resource for me to draw upon their knowledge of each of these guys. I think it’s good for the player where they feel like they have a team around them where everyone’s on the same page trying to help them.”

Two other international players, who both have represented the Spanish National Team, have had completely different fall seasons. One has a lot of success right out of the gate, and the other has had previous success who has had to sit on the sidelines.

Freshman Scott Fernandez has seen that success, winning the VCU Shootout and being one of the two ISU players that won an individual title next to senior Nate McCoy. But sophomore Borja Virto has seen similar success.

“From a scoring standpoint [both Nate and him] were our two best players [last spring],” Tank said. “I would certainly put Borja as somebody who is a contributor to our lineup. His game is certainly good enough, but unfortunately he has had a couple struggles with his academics.”

The reason that Virto hasn’t been playing has been his grades. After learning from his struggles, he expects to play this spring and has been finding ways to improve his game.

“[I’m learning] my full vision on the golf course,” Virto said. “Sometimes I get distracted. When I hit a bad shot, I try to forget it and not let it carry to the next hole.”

Fernandez has had completely opposite results this fall, but in the end, it seems as though both of them learned something just as valuable by playing on this team.

“[Tank] followed me a whole round in Michigan at the beginning of this season to see what I have to improve in my game,” Fernandez said. “You see the big difference in the week I went to Michigan and the week that I won. It’s thanks to Tank really, because he told me what to do. The Spanish team didn’t tell me any of that stuff.”

While all these players will go their own different ways, every single one of them are adjusting their game in a different way.

“It is an individual sport,” Tank said. “I need to get to know a player as an individual to play their best and reach their goal. We are out there playing and practicing as a team, but a lot of it is making sure I’m asking them direct questions and getting them to share with me how they are feeling and how they are thinking about different shots and their game or about how they are doing in general.”

In the end, no matter if the player is from a different country or from Iowa, the goal remains the same.

“That’s the interesting part about our team,” Tank said. “Everybody comes from a different background. It’s a give-and-take between them, and at the end of the day it feels like it’s all just one team.”