2 Chances at a Childhood Dream

Feb. 7, 2012

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — It’s pretty rare when a person gets two chances to live out a childhood dream. Newly hired assistant men’s golf coach Dan Holterhaus is doing just that at the University of Iowa.

Holterhaus, a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native, has always been a Hawkeye fan. In 2002, Holterhaus was a high school senior looking at potential schools to continue his golf career. He only had one in mind.

“My dad graduated from Iowa, and I was definitely born and raised a Hawkeye,” Holterhaus said. “I’ve been a Hawkeye fan all of my life and it was a dream of mine to come here and play.”

Holterhaus was able to make that dream a reality by accepting a walk-on offer to the UI men’s golf team. His hard work and dedication eventually led to a scholarship, academic All-Big Ten honors and team captain status.

“One of the main reasons I wanted to come back was my passion for golf and for the University of Iowa. I want to see this program succeed.”
UI assistant golf coach Dan Holterhaus

Before his senior year, Holterhaus was notified of a coaching change. Holterhaus’ head coach for his final season at Iowa would be Mark Hankins, who was brought in to change the culture of Iowa golf.

“We really improved throughout that first season under coach Hankins and that really set the tone, especially for the younger guys,” Holterhaus said. “He brought a different perspective in terms of preparation, training and workouts. The year after I left, the team finished 17th in the country. It was a big mind shift and the program continues to succeed with that mindset.”

Hankins remembers how Holterhaus excelled, both on and off the course, as a senior team captain.

“He did a very nice job, both as a student and as an athlete,” Hankins said. “He did things the right way.”

After graduation, Holterhaus accepted an internship with the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA). He then left the golf world and worked in the business world for a few years. But his love of golf, and the University of Iowa, still stayed on his mind.

“One of the main reasons I wanted to come back was my passion for golf and for the University of Iowa,” Holterhaus said. “I want to see this program succeed.”

When the assistant golf coach position opened up, Holterhaus contacted Hankins for more information. Hankins was pleased to see his former team captain’s name in the applicant pool.

“Dan is a great fit for this position,” Hankins said. “Having knowledge of the AJGA system when it comes to recruiting is a positive. He was in corporate America for the past couple years, so working long days and getting the job done isn’t new to him. That’s how I run my program. I want to work until the job is done, and Dan is the same way.”

Golf IQ and work ethic are two good traits for an assistant coach, but Hankins also remembers how Holterhaus held himself as a student-athlete during that first season.

“Dan can relate to the student-athletes very well, and he understands my system,” Hankins said. “He was a team captain in my first year, was on our student-athlete advisory committee and was an academic All-Big Ten player, so we formed a good working relationship during his time as a player.”

Holterhaus was able to make a difference in the program as a player, but he wants to make an even bigger impact as a coach.

“One of my biggest goals is to make sure our student-athletes have a positive experience like I had during my time at Iowa,” Holterhaus said. “I want to help them, whether they are turning professional right after college or going into another field. I want to see all these kids have success. Our student-athletes should be better people after going through the Iowa golf program.”

Another big role Holterhaus will have is in the recruiting field. While some might have a difficult time adjusting to the world of recruiting, Hankins believes Holterhaus will settle in just fine. His story of living out a dream, both as a player and coach at Iowa, should be an easy one to tell.

“It’s easy to sell Iowa when you truly have experienced it,” Hankins said. “You’ve been an athlete here and you are talking about your alma mater.”

It’s not just an alma mater to Holterhaus. It’s a place where he was able to make a dream come true. Twice.