Iowa Travels to Big Four Match-Play Challenge

Jan. 31, 2012

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The University of Iowa men’s golf team begins its spring season with The Big Four Match-play Challenge on Feb. 4. The annual exhibition pits the state’s four major programs in a 6-on-6 medal-match competition. Iowa, ranked 30th in the nation by, will compete against Iowa State, Northern Iowa and Drake at the Lone Tree Golf Club in Phoenix, Ariz.

Lone Tree Golf Club, designed by architect Darryl Wilson of the CMX Group, opened in January of 2001. This semi-private, traditional-style course features five holes with water and one with an island green. The par 71 course plays to 6,984 and features a signature, 572-yard par five 18th hole.

The 30th-ranked Hawkeyes earned four team finishes of sixth place or better last fall and boasted individuals inside the top-20 eight times in six events. Iowa closed its season with a T9th finish at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate, posting a season best team mark of 863 (+11). Senior Barrett Kelpin paced the Hawkeyes with a season scoring average of 71.93.

Iowa State finished the fall season ranked 42nd by The Cylcones closed their fall schedule with three consecutive top-three team finishes, including a win at the Bridgestone Golf Collegiate. They were led by senior Nate McCoy who finished the fall with season scoring average of 71.36.

Northern Iowa finished in the top-10 four times in five outings in the fall. The Panther’s highest finish came at the John Dallio Invitational where they placed fifth in the 15-team field.

Under first-year coach Matt Lewis, Drake posted a season-best finish of sixth place at the John Dallio Memorial. Freshman Devin Leland led the Bulldogs with a season scoring average of 76.1.

Similar to match-play competition, medal match offers a head-to-head match-up between two teams’ top-six golfers. Each competitor will compete in a round of stroke play against his opponent. A win earns your team one point with a maximum of six team points possible in each round. Iowa will be the first seed and take on fourth-seeded Drake while Iowa State and Northern Iowa, second and third seeds, respectively, will face each other in the first round.

Former University of Iowa men’s golfer Dan Holterhaus has been hired as an assistant coach. Holterhaus was a member of the Hawkeye men’s golf team from 2003-08. He was a two-time team captain and three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. Holterhaus served on the Iowa Student Athlete Advisory Committee from 2005-08 and was the Iowa men’s golf team’s Big Ten Sportsmanship Honoree twice. Holterhaus was a senior at Iowa during Hankins’ first year as head coach.

HEAD COACH Mark Hankins
Hankins is in his fifth year as Iowa’s head men’s golf coach after spending seven years as the head coach at Michigan State University. Under Hankins, the Hawkeyes finished last season ranked ninth among all NCAA Division I teams. Hankins’ 2010-11 squad is coming off a 10th place finish at the 2011 NCAA Championships, Iowa’s best finish since 1960. After a second place finish at the 2010 Big Ten Championships, its best finish since 1992, Iowa placed third at the 2011 Big Tens. Hankins and company will look to make their fourth-consecutive NCAA postseason appearance this season.

The Hawkeyes will begin their competitive spring schedule at the Big Ten Match-Play Feb. 10-11. Competition will be held on the par-72 Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla.