Cyclone golf has new coach, new focus

Andrew Tank coaches Nate McCoy during a practice last month.

Andrew Tank coaches Nate McCoy during a practice last month.

Dean Berhow-Goll

This year, Cyclone fans have plenty of reasons to be excited about the upcoming athletics seasons at Iowa State.

The women’s volleyball team is geared up to have a huge year. The football team is coming off a bowl win against Minnesota, and has already won in convincing fashion over Northern Illinois.

Aside from those, fans have one more sport to get excited about — men’s golf.

First-year coach Andrew Tank comes in with an impressive resume to run the show for Iowa State. Tank has demonstrated himself as a coach and as an instructor at the University of Minnesota.

Along with being the team captain as a senior in 2002, he was an assistant for eight years under Brad James while the Gophers became a force in the Big Ten.

They won conference championships in ’03 and ’07, finishing runner-up in ’06, ’08, and ’09. The Gophers also advanced into the NCAA Regionals six times. They moved on to the NCAA championships three of those years, including a third-place finish in ’06 and a ninth-place finish in ’07.

Tank said that his new team’s strength is its experience.

“We’ve got three seniors and three juniors to go on our 10-man roster,” Tank said. “Which gives us good experience and good chemistry as a team.”

The focus for this fall is the team’s short game, with a heavy emphasis on wedge play, and working inside 100 yards.

The other focus is pre-shot routine. Tank said this time of year is not the time to be making swing changes, but mainly for getting the players’ game ready so they can take it from the practice to the course.

“We want to practice how we play,” Tank said. “During the winter we may transition into more technical improvements working with our guys’ bodies, and then going into spring, going into play mode, we want to get our wedges and putters working to the point where we’re ready to win tournaments. We’re working hard to improve each day.”

When asked about how the flooding has affected the team’s practice routine, Tank said that it hasn’t been much of a strain on the team.

Currently Veenker Memorial Golf Course only has half of the course open due to the water damage, but Tank said playing at the Harvester Golf Club outside Rhodes instead is hardly a downgrade.

“We’ve got great facilities, with Veenker being on campus,” Tank said. “And [we] have been fortunate enough to play at the Harvester, which is one of the nicest courses in Iowa.”

Tank has only been able to practice with the team for about eight or nine days so far, and their first team meeting was Aug. 30.

When asked about who the leader of the team is so far, he really didn’t know yet.

“A couple of guys have had some really excellent summers of play, which is very exciting to see,” Tank said. “Nate McCoy from West Des Moines had an excellent summer on the national level, finishing high at a couple major amateur events.”

Also performing at a high level coming into this year’s season was Jacob Aaholm, who won his home country’s [Denmark] national amateur event, and also won a stroke play event before he came back over.

To determine the starting five, the team is having four qualifying rounds. The final three rounds were played Labor Day weekend on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

The first event for the team will be when it travels to Indianapolis Sept. 12-13 to play in the Wolf Run Invitational.

“After our qualifying rounds, we’ll have a better picture as to who will be leading us,” Tank said.

As to how Tank feels about the ISU school spirit, he said that was one of the reasons that he decided to come to Iowa State.

“With all the excitement of the volleyball and football team, I just hope that I can help the golf program become one of the positive stories of improvement,” Tank said. “And that’s our goal, and I think we’ve got some good guys that can help make it happen.”