ISU golf club vies for national title

The ISU golf club has a photo taken after it won the first regional tournament at The Wilds Golf Club in Prior Lake, Minn. 

Jack Macdonald

It took 1,554 strokes, but for the second semester in a row, the ISU men’s golf club is headed to the National Collegiate Club Golf Association national championship.

The tournament will start Saturday with the first round and conclude Sunday with the second round. 

After traveling east for the national tournament in the spring, the club will pack its bags and head south to San Antonio, Texas, this time. The team will compete at TPC San Antonio, which has hosted previous PGA Tour events.

Thankful to be heading for warmer weather, the club brings an added advantage that many teams don’t: The experience of playing in poor weather, which is in the forecast for Saturday’s round.

“Someone on the team said in the cold, we learn not to mishit the ball because it will hurt,” said senior Matt Dohse, club president. “That teaches us to just focus on our shots and hit the ball good in poor weather.”

This time last semester, the club had never been to the NCCGA national tournament but will now attend as a veteran group. Six of the eight golfers traveling south competed at the Spring 2015 national tournament.

“Nationals is a different experience with a lot of added pressure,” said senior David Stein. “The bigger atmosphere can be tough to judge if you haven’t been [to nationals] before.”

Stein has also competed at nationals on two other occasions, when he qualified as an individual. Jeremy Mason is the only other ISU golfer on the eight-man roster to qualify for nationals as an individual.

The two national championship veterans will play a key role in helping first-timers Chris Johnson and Carter Rau get acclimated to the atmosphere and stiff competition. Stein and Johnson both played at Minnesota golf powerhouse, Wayzata High School.

Stein’s biggest advice, first-timer or not, is to just stick to the normal game plan. Everyone has their own game, whether it’s the long game or short game. They don’t need to emulate anyone else, they just need to play to their strengths. 

“The experience of the older guys will definitely help,” Johnson said. “I kind of have an idea of what to expect and have gotten tips on how to manage my game.”

To qualify for nationals, the club had to win the Twin Cities Region by having the highest number of points after two regional tournaments. The first tournament was at The Wilds Golf Club in Prior Lake, Minn., and was followed by the second tournament at Finkbine Golf Course in Iowa City.

In Prior Lake, the club was able to swipe the team and individual titles. The club shot a total of 773 over two rounds, and Stein shot a 5-over 149 to snag the individual title. Iowa and Minnesota finished second and third with 788 and 811 totals, respectively.

From the start, Iowa controlled the second regional. In Iowa City, Iowa State shot a team total of 781, while Iowa bested it with a score of 777. Stein finished in second with a 9-over 151, which was one stroke behind the first-place finisher, Zach Skopec of Iowa.

Then it turned interesting. With Iowa State and Iowa each winning a regional, they both sat atop the region leaderboard with nine points, which kicked in the tiebreaker.

Whomever had the lowest amount of strokes after the two tournaments is crowned champion. Iowa State, with an 11-stroke advantage, was crowned regional champions.

With the impressive showing at regionals, Iowa State’s best chance at an individual title lies in the hands of Stein. Last semester, Stein finished 34th overall at nationals and believes he can vie for a top-10 finish.

As a team, the club believes it can sneak into the top 15 after finishing 20th last year.

“Now that we have been here before, we are competing for a national championship,” Stein said.