Men’s golf begins the season at Colonial Collegiate Invitational

Part of the men’s golf team talks and prepares to tee off on the first hole on April 5, 2019, at Coldwater Golf Links.

Adarsh Tamma

After the 2020 spring season got cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Iowa State men’s golf team is ready to compete again this fall.

The Cyclones were on par once again to advance to the NCAA Regionals before their season came to a halt, which would’ve extended their streak of qualifying for this round in six of the last seven seasons.

Iowa State will commence the new season Monday by traveling to Fort Worth, Texas, to compete in the Colonial Collegiate Invitational, a course Head Coach Andrew Tank is eager to play on to start the year off.

“It’s a unique opportunity to play against everyone from the conference, historically one of the strongest golf conferences [in the country],” Tank said. “Normally, we only play in April at the Big 12 Championship, so it will be fun to go out there.”

Tank has been with the Cyclones since 2011 after serving as an assistant coach at his alma mater, the University of Minnesota, from 2003-2010. In his time in Ames, Iowa State has seen a revival in its men’s golf program, with the Cyclones progressing to the NCAA Championships in 2014, 2017 and 2018, with their most previous appearance at the national stage coming in 1953.

Iowa State has also produced four top-50 individual finishes at the national championship under Tank, including current players Tripp Kinney and Lachlan Barker.

Barker, a junior from Willunga, Australia, is currently on pace to break the Iowa State school record for career stroke average with a mark of 71.72, and is also eager to compete at the Colonial Invite.

“It’s a place that we’ve never been to; there’s a lot of history there and we’re really looking forward to going there this season,” Barker said.

In his time with the men’s team, Barker has had multiple successful outings in 31 tournaments played, including ten top ten performances for the Cyclones. For this upcoming season, Barker hopes to continue his strong performances for Iowa State.

“Ultimately, I’d love to win an event,” Barker said on his goals for the season. “I would love to put up what I’ve been working on during this past offseason. Individually, I’d like to have two top tens in the stroke events, and overall I would love to see our team do well this season.”

Kinney echoes his teammate’s optimism for the initial tournament. Kinney has also had immense success for the Cyclones, being named an All-American in 2019 after tying for 47th place at the NCAA Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Waukee, Iowa, native also debuted at No. 15 in the inaugural PGA Tour University Rankings.

“I want to keep improving my form from last season,” Kinney said. “I thought we were making some good strides before everything got cut short. For this season, I think our goals [as a team] would be that we want to be a top 25, top 20 team in the country.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench in the works for other collegiate sports, golfers have enjoyed being able to continue their practice on the course during the summer offseason, including the Cyclone squad.

“I think that we’ve been super lucky being an outdoor sport,” Tank said. “Practice so far hasn’t been an issue. The guys competed on their own during the summer since golf courses were the first to open up, so it’s been good in terms of that.”

Kinney and Barker spent their offseason as a tune-up for the fall outing, with the pair competing in both the Western Amateur and U.S. Amateur tournaments this past summer. Both tournaments included some of the top collegiate golfers from across the country.

With seven players on Tank’s squad returning from last spring, he points out the team’s unity as a positive for the upcoming season.

“I think what separates us from other teams is that we have a really close group of guys,” Tank said. “We try to develop them as both golf players and people.”

The Colonial Collegiate Invitational will take place Sept. 28 and 29. Iowa State will face off against squads from Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech and West Virginia.