Nick Voke rewriting ISU golf history books

Sophomore golfer Nick Voke lines up a putt at practice on April 14. At the 2015 Gopher Invitational, Voke led the ISU men’s golf team by tying for 3rd place out of 81 golfers.

Jack Bluhm

The sound of a golf club hitting a golf ball cuts through the crisp spring air at the Veenker Memorial Golf Course in Ames, Iowa, over and over again.

ISU coach Andrew Tank looks on and just watches, not saying a single word. His player goes through the same motion of swinging his golf club and driving the ball out into the open field of the driving range.

Smack, smack, smack.

Some teammates look on and watch in silence, mentally taking notes on the differences in their swings and looking for little details that could help them elevate their own game.

With each swing of the club, the expression on Nick Voke’s face never changes.

Voke has reached that point during practice where he is absorbed by the game of golf, focused on making solid contact with the ball. He envisions it flying down the middle of the fairway, giving him the perfect set up shot to get it on the green and then into the hole.

He is focused on making school history and having his name etched in the ISU record books.

Voke was not immediately a dedicated golfer. He originally viewed golf as an old man’s game as a young boy.

“I was about 11 when I first started to golf, thanks to one of my mates’ dad dragging me out on the course one afternoon,” he said.

After that first day on the course, Voke’s mother went out and bought him his first set of clubs. That is when his love affair with golf started.

Eight years down the road, Voke played at the World Junior Championship, representing his home country of New Zealand. That’s when he finally believed he could get a scholarship through his golf game, so he started making connections with college coaches. Iowa State, however, was not on his immediate radar.

“I did not know all that much about Iowa State back then and was not contacted right off the bat,” Voke said. “A fellow New Zealander who was at the tournament actually made connections with coach Tank first, which ultimately led him to me.”

Voke feels like he has found a new family while leaving an impression at Iowa State.

Voke’s first career win at Iowa State came during his sophomore year at the VCU shootout in Virginia. This was only the beginning.

“My first one was a pretty big milestone for me because it was my first college tournament coming back from injury,” Voke said.

Voke broke his collarbone in the summer just before returning to school.

After the tournament, his future looked bright and he knew if he wanted another trophy he was going to have to put in many hours of hard work and dedication.

“Nick has a passion and a belief in himself that is quite special,” Tank said. “He sets high goals for himself and then goes out there and backs it up. His scheduling and motivation, along with his calm manner are the reasons why he is the type of player that is easy to work with.”

Voke, now in his junior year, added two more wins to his career total. His latest victory at the National Invitational Tournament in Arizona put him into a tie for the second most wins in ISU history.

He is just one win away from sharing the top spot with Scott Fernandez. He not only moved into second for individual wins but was also able to achieve his first record by becoming the first Cyclone to shoot 7-under par in a round multiple times.

“Nick is a special player to have on the team,” said assistant coach Chad Keohane. “He knows what the records are and is definitely shooting for them. He is such a pure talent that he has the vision of capturing these records and this last one shows that when he is on his game he can do great things.”

With his name now forever inscribed in the history book, Voke wants to add more to his resumé. And he has two other records on his mind. 

“The record that I really have my eyes set on is Scott’s single season scoring record and I want to be an All-American,” he said.

Only three golfers have ever been named All-Americans in ISU men’s golf history. If Voke were to add his name to that list, he compared it to getting his face sculpted on to the proverbial Mount Rushmore of ISU men’s golf.

The single-season scoring title is the one that is going to be Voke’s toughest challenge. Fernandez set the bar high, with an 71.27 stroke average back in the 2012-13 season, but Voke is just ahead of that pace, posting a 71.50 stroke average so far

With all this about focus, determination and breaking records, it looks like golf is the only thing in Voke’s life.

That would be wrong. 

“Nick is a pretty funny guy when he is off the course,” said junior teammate Ruben Sondjaja. “We have a similar sense of humor, and sometimes I even wonder if that kid has his head screwed on all the way tight.”