ISU men’s golf to face risk-reward layout in California

Mike Randleman

At the upcoming Wyoming Desert Intercollegiate, Nick Voke will be sure to have his eyes peeled.

Voke earned a top-20 finish at last year’s event, but a penalty imposed on him and his playing partners in the first round tacked on two strokes to a final score that would have placed him in the top 10 and in the heart of medalist contention.

“We teed off on the wrong tee box,” Voke said with a laugh. “I’ll be sure to be a bit more careful this time.”

While Voke’s blunder is unlikely to repeat itself, mistakes of the more common variety abound on the risk-reward layout No. 46 Iowa State will face at the Classic Club course in Palm Desert, Calif. on Feb. 20.

“It’s a course where you can make a lot of birdies, but it also has a lot of water and out of bounds [area],” said ISU coach Andrew Tank. “In past years, we’ve given away a lot of shots there.”

To avoid a similar fate suffered in years past, the Cyclones have honed in on drills that put a premium on ball placement off the tee and limiting mistakes to areas away from trouble.

“We’ve been putting a lot of emphasis where the best bail out is off the tee,” Voke said. “We’ve got our poles out here [on the driving range], so we’ll say that there’s out of bounds or water right and still try to hit it into the zone, but sort of favoring to one side of the zone a bit.”

If Voke and his teammates’ strategy pays off, dozens of birdies will be ripe for the picking.

In last year’s event, the winning team score was 27-under-par by returning champion, No. 2 Oregon.

Defending medalist winner Julien Brun of Texas Christian will also return to defend his title that he secured with an 11-under-par tally.

“You’ve got to get off to good starts, take advantage of the par 5s,” said senior Sam Daley, who tied for 42nd place last season. “The par 5s there are pretty gettable. The holes with water you just have to play the same shots and if you do that we’re going to go pretty low there.”

If the Cyclones can conquer a course and tournament that has yet to yield them a top-five team finish in the last three tries, they will have one of their better opportunities of the season to contend for a victory.

Though No. 2 Oregon has won or shared a win in four events this year to ascend the rankings, the Ducks will be playing on short rest after completing play at The Prestige tournament Feb. 18.

No. 17 Texas Tech will be the only other top-25 team in a field in which Iowa State is ranked fourth out of 24 teams.

This week will also be as close to a preview of the Big 12 Championship that Iowa State will see.

Texas Tech, No. 38 Texas Christian, No. 60 Kansas and No. 128 Kansas State are all set to compete, though traditional powers like Texas and Oklahoma State will not make the trek out west.

The first of three rounds of the Wyoming Desert Intercollegiate will begin Feb. 20, with the second and third rounds scheduled for Feb. 21 and 22.