Iowa to Host Golfweek Conference Challenge

Sept. 13, 2012

Weekly Notes

This Week
The University of Iowa men’s golf team and Spirit Hollow Golf Course will co-host the Golfweek Conference Challenge in Burlington, Iowa, at Spirit Hollow. The tournament will begin on Sept. 16, and conclude on Sept. 18. One round will be played each of the three days. Tee times on Sunday and Monday will run from 9 a.m. to 11:20 a.m. off holes No. 1 and No. 10, while Tuesday’s round is a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. An awards ceremony will be held at 1:30 p.m. (CT) following the tournament. Fans can follow the action live at or

The Field
The Golfweek Conference Challenge is a one-of-a-kind tournament that pits 15 teams from 15 different conferences. This year’s field consists of Iowa (Big Ten), Ball State (MAC), Campbell (Big South), Central Arkansas (Southland), Florida Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun), Jacksonville State (Ohio Valley), Kansas (Big 12), Long Beach State (Big West), Missouri (SEC), San Francisco (West Coast), San Jose State (WAC), Tulsa (CUSA), Wake Forest (ACC) and Xavier (A10).

The field consists of six teams that advanced to NCAA Regionals action last season (Iowa, Jacksonville State, Long Beach State, San Francisco, Tulsa and Wake Forest), and two that advanced to the NCAA Championships (Tulsa and Iowa).The field consists of three teams receiving votes in the GolfWorld/Nike Golf Preseason Coaches Poll in Iowa, San Jose State and Wake Forest. The Hawkeyes are the highest returning finisher of the NCAA Championships in the field (22nd), and closed the season ranked higher than any other team in the field (31st).

All but three teams in the field (Florida Gulf Coast, San Francisco and Tulsa) opened their fall season last weekend, and three teams opened with an invitational team title (Central Arkansas, Missouri). Top Individuals

The Golfweek Conference Challenge will also showcase elite individuals, as five players in the field finished last season ranked within the top-250 last season. The field’s highest ranked returning player is Missouri’s Jace Long, who finished at No. 70.

The Course
The 18-hole “Spirit Hollow” course at the Spirit Hollow Golf Course facility was ranked the No. 1 golf course in the state of Iowa in 2012. With 7,360 yards of golf from the tips, this par 72 has a course rating of 73.1 with a slope rating of 134 on Bent grass. Spirit Hollow opened in 2000 and was designed by Richard Jacobson (ASGCA).

Spirit Hollow has played host to the 2007 U.S. Amateur qualifier, the 2009 Iowa Senior Amateur Championship, the 2010 U.S. Open Qualifier, the 2011 Iowa Match-Play Championship and the 2012 Iowa Amateur Championship. Spirit Hollow has also served as the host of the Golfweek Conference Challenge since 2010.

2011 Golfweek Conference Challenge
Arkansas topped a competitive field in the 2011 Golfweek Conference Challenge, taking the crown with an 859 (-5). Chattanooga’s Stephan Jaeger won the individual title with a three-round total of 209 (-7). The Hawkeyes placed sixth with an 879 (+15), and were led by senior Chris Brant with a two-over par total and a 13th place finish.

Last Time Out
The Hawkeyes made their fall debut at the Golden Gopher Classic at the Spring Hill Golf Club last weekend. Iowa finished 10th with a three-round total of 922 (+58). The Hawkeyes carded 18-hole rounds of 303 (+15), 298 (+10) and 321 (+33).

Junior Steven Ihm led the Hawkeyes, placing 29th with a 229 (+13). Sophomore Ian Vandersee was just one stroke behind, firing a 230 (+14). Junior Ryan Marks and sophomore Brian Bullington tied for 52nd as both finished at +19 (235). Freshman Landon Kowalski carded a 239 (+58) to place tied for 61st.

Ihm’s Consistency Leads Iowa
Junior Steven Ihm, of Peosta, Iowa, played three consistent rounds of golf to be Iowa’s low man in Minnesota. Ihm carded rounds of 78 (+7), 74 (+2) and 77 (+5). After transferring to Iowa from Indian Hills Community College, Ihm became a full-time starter last season and earned PING All-Region and second team All-Big Ten honors.

Kowalski Makes Debut
Freshman Landon Kowalski made his first collegiate round a memorable one. Kowalski, a native of Buffalo Grove, Ill., fired an even-par, 72 in the opening round. Kowalski had five birdies and turned in Iowa’s low opening round.

Hawkeyes Return To NCAAs
Iowa qualified for NCAA postseason play for the fourth consecutive season last year. After qualifying for the NCAA Athens Regional, the Hawkeyes fired a one-over par round on the final day to advance to the NCAA Championships by one stroke. The Hawkeyes finished tied for 22nd at the NCAA Championships at the historic Riviera Country Club.

Winslow Earns All-America Honors
Joseph Winslow became the sixth All-American in program history last season as a freshman. Winslow finished tied for 13th at the NCAA Championships, carding a three-round total of 215 (+2), to earn honorable mention All-America honors.

A Program On The Rise
Under head coach Mark Hankins, the Hawkeyes are a program heading in the right direction. Iowa has advanced to NCAA postseason play for four consecutive seasons. The Hawkeyes have also reached the NCAA Championships three of the past four seasons, and are one of just 22 teams in the nation to do so. Iowa has won eight tournaments since 2008, had six individual medalists since 2009 and has had three All-Americans since 2008.

Hawkeyes win 2010 Golfweek Challenge
Iowa will be looking to recapture the magic from its 2010 Golfweek Conference Challenge, as the Hawkeyes set records en route to the team title. Iowa won by 15 strokes, notching a 54-hole total of 833 (-31), a program record that still stands. Chris Brant and Vince India shared medalist honors for the Hawkeyes.

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Head Coach Mark Hankins
Head coach Mark Hankins enters his sixth season as head coach. Under Hankins’ guidance, Iowa has advanced to NCAA postseason competition the past four seasons. The Hawkeyes have advanced to three NCAA Championships in the past four years, and is one of just 22 teams in the nation to do so. Iowa was ranked 155th when Hankins took over the program in 2008, yet the Hawkeyes have been consistently ranked within the top-30 for the past three years. Hankins is a native of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, and a graduate of Iowa State.