Iowa State golfer stands out amongst team

Dean Berhow-Goll

As you examine Nathan Leary, one of the leaders of the ISU men’s golf team, you can see he is a guy who observes a lot.

As he sits on a bench behind the Veenker driving range, you can see a look of surveillance on his face, taking everything in.

As Leary watches a few of his teammates hit shot after shot, he points out who’s who, what type of shot they like to hit and even what kind of golfer they are.

However, one thing Leary has that these golfers do not is a chip on his shoulder.

“I think I’m coming in this year with a lot of confidence, and a bit of a chip on my shoulder,” Leary said. “Because I’m the only player who’s grown up playing on the public courses, where everyone else is used to playing at country clubs with perfectly manicured conditions, so I’ve played in tougher conditions all my life.”

All throughout his golfing life Leary has always wanted to beat the more “preppy” players. That has always been something fueling him in his work ethic to gain experience, and get better with every swing he takes.

“Nobody on this team is a snob, obviously I love my guys,” Leary said, “but it’s always been in the back of my head that some of the guys I compete against get to practice at unbelievable courses, so I need to work that much harder to be better than they are.”

Leary is used to working hard, and with the flood this year he, along with the rest of the team, have had to pick it up even more.

“You love playing courses that are in good shape,” Leary said, “but with the flood this year it’s wiped out all possibilities of playing any courses that are in any kind of playing condition. Even Veenker’s nine holes that are open right now are hardly good enough to play.”

Cyclone golf has dealt with adversity as a whole this year with the flood, and Leary has seen the devastation on a personal level.

“I also work at a golf course, so I see financially how much it’s been hurting this summer. It’s been tough to say the least,” Leary said.

The team is working to move past the adversity the flood has caused. They finished their first meet of the year in 11th place.

Even though Leary didn’t finish the meet how he felt he should, he still showed signs of being one of the nation’s top-tier golfers after firing a 69, which tied him for the lead after one round.

In high school, Leary led his team from the time he was a freshman, and now that he has improved every year at Iowa State, he’s ready to lead his Cyclone teammates.

Nathan grew up going to West Waterloo High. All four years of high school, Leary was a first team all-conference golfer, along with being the conference player of the year and an all-state player his sophomore through senior years.

His junior year, Leary was the state runner-up individually, and then in 2006, he won the 4A state individual title.

Leary has made improvements every year, dropping his round average from 76.15 after his freshman year, to 75.13 at the end of his junior year. Leary has also come on and had an extremely promising summer, to set up what should be an excellent senior season.

Some notable finishes for him during summer were finishing as a semi-finalist at the IGA Match Play, finishing fourth at the Iowa Amateur, third at the Iowa Masters and he was the runner-up at the Waterloo Open.

He wants to get back to the feeling of when he was in high school. At Waterloo, Leary was always the guy to beat, and everyone was always giving him their best.

“I feel confident with the summer I’ve had,” Leary said. “I am just hoping that this can all translate into some solid tournament finishes this year.”

Leary, a junior at Iowa State, also has his own expectations for how he and the team will perform.

“I fully expect us to make it to regionals as a team this year,” Leary said, “but I want to be one of those guys that is 1 of the top 100 or so, where every tournament people are looking for my name and saying, ‘OK, I really want to beat this guy.'”

Leary feels like there have been a lot of improvements this summer, and if he can just peak at the right times, he has the ability to open some eyes.

“I’d like to be ranked right there with the best in the nation,” Leary said. “I’ve always been in the middle of the field, but I feel like I can crack the top 100, and that’s a goal that I’m setting for the year.”