Feb. 20, 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 — Most teams in collegiate athletics tone down the physical aspect of their training once they complete the first competition of the season. For head coach Mark Hankins and the University of Iowa men’s golf team, the work is just beginning.
The Hawkeyes started the spring season Feb. 10-11 at the Big Ten Match Play Championships in Florida. Iowa’s next competition is March 18-20 at the Callaway-Collegiate Match Play, held at the same Concession Golf Course in Bradenton. That gives Hankins over a month to continue to train his athletes.
“The Big Ten Match Play Championship was set up so early in the season because another Big Ten school has a big tournament in Puerto Rico every year,” Hankins said. “That tournament has been going on for a long time, so we didn’t want to step on the toes of another Big Ten school. We have a pretty big gap from our first to second tournament, but that allows us to get in more work.”
The casual sports fan might think work for a collegiate golf team entails extra chipping and putting. That’s not the case with Hankins and his Hawkeyes.
During the time between tournaments, the golf team has their own version of “two-a-days.” The team is up early in the morning for intense physical training, followed by afternoon technical sessions that revolve around the student-athletes’ class schedule.
“We can’t play golf outside right now, so we have no excuse not to try and push our team physically,” Hankins said. “We have to do more at Iowa. It’s not easy to be a great team in this location. We pride ourselves on doing more than any other team around.”
Doing more equals plenty of hard work. The golf team begins its workouts at 6:29 a.m. five days a week.
“If you are there at 6:30 a.m., you are late,” Hankins said.
Four of those morning workouts involve intense cardio and strength training at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The fifth day is a yoga session.
“Going early in the morning allows us to practice golf in the afternoons,” Hankins said. “I know at 6:29 a.m., no one has class. In the afternoon, we can focus on our golf skill training and our mental training.”
On the technical side, the student-athletes work on their game in the UI Bubble two days a week. Two more days are spent in the putting and chipping room in the UI Fieldhouse. On the fifth day, Iowa tries to get outside (weather permitting) to practice.
Hankins believes the mix between strenuous early morning workouts and technical afternoon practices helps prepare his golfers for the grind of a college golf tournament.
“There are days when we are out on the golf course for 10 or 11 hours,” Hankins said. “The guys are walking tough golf courses, carrying clubs and battling through a tournament. On top of that, the guys are getting up at 6:30 or 7 a.m. the next day to do it all over again. It’s a mentally and physically demanding sport. This time of year allows us to prepare for that.”
Tough two-a-day workouts also helps Hankins see how much his golfers want to improve and who is willing to put in the work.
“It’s a matter of priority for our team,” Hankins said. “Do you want to be on this golf team, showing up early every morning and getting better? That’s what I want to see. That’s the great part about working the way we do during this time of the year.”