Takeaways: Consistency is key to spring season

Then-junior golfer Lachlan Barker lines up his putt April 3, 2021, at Coldwater Golf Links. 

Tom Turner

With Iowa State men’s golf fall season in the books, there were both positives and negatives to draw away from it.

The Cyclones will start their season again Jan. 24 in Tucson, Ariz. for the Arizona Intercollegiate. 

A great way to end

The Cyclones ended the fall season on a good note, going 2-3 in Big 12 Match Play and almost knocking off a top-10 Texas squad. Freshman Luke Gutschewski has been one of the biggest surprises for Iowa State, with his play being consistently at the top. He led the team with a 71.33 stroke average in the fall as a freshman. His best match came against Cole Hammer from Texas University. Gutschewski and Hammer halved in the match, which ended up going back and forth for most of the event.

Nate Vance and Josh Hetherington also had quite the performance in Big 12 Match Play. Vance went 3-2 against opponents, and Hetherington went 2-3. This was Hetherington’s first recorded start golfing with the team, and he golfed well on the big stage. Vance’s 3-2 record was the best among Iowa State golfers, including wins over golfers from West Virginia, TCU and Baylor.

The Cyclones golfed quite well as a team, going against very good competition, including eight ranked teams at the time inside the top-50. Their record was 10-16-1 in Big 12 Match Play.

A tough decision moving forward 

Going forward, most of the matches will involve five golfers from each team, unlike Big 12 Match Play with six. The Cyclones and their head coach Andrew Tank will have a tough decision to make before their first match after the break.

Gutschewski, Vance, Lachlan Barker and Frank Lindwall seem to have their roles locked up after their performances during the season. That leaves one spot left for three golfers, Hetherington, Ricky Costello and Jake Slocum.

Both Hetherington and Costello are seniors, while Slocum is a redshirt freshman. Before Big 12 Match Play, Slocum and Costello were in-and-out of the lineup as Tank moved pieces around. Hetherington entered that revolving door as he got the nod to golf over Slocum for the sixth spot.

Costello has a stroke average of 73.44, Hetherington has 74.00 for a stroke average and Slocum’s is 75.11. Each golfer has had bright spots during the season which makes this decision difficult. With the momentum from Big 12 Match Play, the first match continues to be very important to help get on the right foot to start the second half of the season.

Looking for a boost

After the break and once the season begins again, eyes will also be on Barker and Lindwall. Their consistent play has kept the Cyclones from dropping in the standings during matches, but if they golf even a little bit better, that would be big for Iowa State. Each golfer has been golfing in the middle of the pack for most of the season, with sometimes jumping up and finishing inside the top-20.

When both Lindwall and Barker golf well, the team ends up in a better spot. Having three golfers who can finish in the top-25 is huge for the standings and could be very big for the Cyclones.

Lindwall had a 72.55 stroke average to end his fall season. The fifth-year Cyclone even had a top-20 performance in the Badger Invitational. Barker tied for eighth at the Gopher Invitational and has a 72.02 career stroke average, which is second all-time in school history.

If the two seniors can continue to produce at a high level while freshman Gutschewski continues his own dominance, then the Cyclones could be a dangerous team when regionals come around. With the roster mostly made up of seniors, it will be interesting to see how they golf into the end of the season.