April 16, 2015
- Read the April issue of Hawk Talk Monthly
- Download your Iowa Hawkeye iPhone app!
- Download your Hawk Talk Monthly iOS app
- Download your Hawk Talk Monthly android app
- Download your Iowa Hawkeye Android app!
- Big Ten Network: Free Hawkeye Video
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
Editor’s note: 24 Hawkeyes to Watch is a feature released Monday, Aug. 4, highlighting one athlete from each of the 24 intercollegiate sports offered by the University of Iowa. More than 700 talented student-athletes are currently busy preparing for the 2014-15 athletics year at the UI. Hawkeyesports.com will introduce you to 24 Hawkeyes who, for one reason or another, are poised to play a prominent role in the intercollegiate athletics program at the UI in the coming year.
By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — In a sport gauged by top 10 finishes, University of Iowa men’s golfer Carson Schaake is all about winning.
“It’s something I take seriously,” said Schaake, a sophomore from Omaha, Nebraska. “I (won) a lot when I was a junior (golfer). People say it’s not about winning, but when you win, you have more fun. You don’t want to lose, you don’t go out there to place; you’re going out there to win.”
It’s that competitive desire that has made Schaake one of the Hawkeyes’ top players in his second season on campus. It is a mindset that UI head coach Tyler Stith would never bet against.
“He is one of the most competitive kids I have ever been around,” said Stith, Iowa’s first-year head coach. “I enjoy coming to practice every day because the energy he brings is contagious.
“That competitiveness is going to make him successful no matter what he does. I know he wants to play professional golf, and I would never doubt the kid. If he puts his mind to it, chances are he is going to accomplish it.”
“It’s something I take seriously. I (won) a lot when I was a junior (golfer). People say it’s not about winning, but when you win, you have more fun. You don’t want to lose, you don’t go out there to place; you’re going out there to win.”
UI sophomore Carson Schaake
Golf is a family affair for Schaake. He grew up watching his father, grandfathers, and uncles compete in the sport. He picked up his first set of plastic golf clubs as a young child and wore out the grass in his back yard in Waterloo, Iowa. He learned to love the game, watching his father and uncles compete at the Waterloo Open each summer.
“It was the coolest thing ever (to watch them play),” he said.
Schaake played baseball and golf after his family moved to Nebraska when he was a child. His dad played collegiate baseball, but when Schaake was forced to pick one (because of the overlap in seasons), he opted for the links.
“My dad and grandfathers inspired and pushed me,” said Schaake. “They told me I could go as far as how much I practiced and how much I wanted it.”
If gym rats are used to describe driven basketball players, then Schaake is a golf rat. He lives at the golf course, getting in his swings and using his imagination during his daily repetitions.
“There are days when I spend 6-7 hours (at the golf course) with headphones in, and I sit on the end of the driving range and hit balls,” said Schaake. “People don’t understand how I can do it, and I really don’t either, but I love it.”
Schaake has endless YouTube videos of Tiger Woods and admires Woods’ mind as much as his game.
“As a golfer I can see the creativity in his game that other people don’t see,” he said. “He has inspired me to play the game differently than others do.”
Stith, then an Iowa assistant coach, first saw Schaake as a ninth-grader at Creighton Prep, and he was impressed by the 15-year-old’s demeanor. Stith began the recruiting process and former UI head coach Mark Hankins completed it when Stith left for a position at Minnesota.
“Coach Hankins kind of hooked me,” said Schaake. “His personality, you can tell he wants to win more than anyone. He got me to come here, and I love that.”
Schaake arrived on the UI campus as the top-rated player in the state of Nebraska and the 24th-best prospect nationally, but he only cracked the top five in the Hawkeye lineup once during his first fall season. He tied for 59th at the Rod Myers Invitational.
Following the fall season, Schaake went home for Christmas to regroup and work with his swing coach. When he returned to the UI in the spring, he was a more confident player, and when he got his shot, he ran with it, tying for fourth at the Hawkeye-Great River Entertainment Invitational with a one-under par 215.
“When I got into the lineup my dad said to take advantage of it, and don’t let go,” said Schaake. “Once I got fourth at Hawkeye, my confidence shot up. I knew I could do it because I can hit shots that other people can’t really hit. Once that started getting going, I went with the flow.”
Schaake earned a spot in Iowa’s lineup the remainder of the spring, finishing 20th at the Big Ten Championships and 37th at the NCAA Regionals. He continued his rise in the summer, winning the Waterloo Open — the same one he grew up watching as a kid.
“It was unbelievable,” said Schaake. “I grew up envying this tournament, going and watching the older guys play, and I finally got to play, and won. It boosted my confidence.”
In his second season, Schaake has been Iowa’s top player, posting a 71.65 scoring average over 20 rounds. He was the team’s top finisher in three of five fall tournaments, posting two top-10 and four top-20 finishes.
“In our first event, Carson qualified as one of the top two rounds and told me he wanted to be a leader, but he didn’t feel as a sophomore it was his time,” said Stith. “He told me he was going to lead through his play, and he has done that.
“He has done it with his work ethic and performances on the golf course. He has shown he is ready to take that next step and be an elite college golfer.”
Schaake picks apart golf courses with creativity and shot-making ability, and it has resulted in his ability to go low. He has finished under par in 12 of 20 rounds this season.
“A lot of people have the ability, but to be able to practice it on the driving range and have the vision, creativity, and confidence to execute during a round of golf makes it a lot of fun to coach him,” said Stith. “He’s not afraid to try something and has the confidence and belief in himself that he can execute those shots under pressure.
“He is a player that is making a lot of birdies and his 70s and 71s right now will eventually turn into more numbers in the 60s when he can eliminate bigger numbers that are out there when you play that aggressive. That comes with time and maturity, in knowing when to be aggressive and when to back off and play smarter.”
Schaake is still looking for his first collegiate victory. Stith believes once he gets one, they’ll come in bunches.
“Carson is going to win multiple tournaments,” said Stith. “Once he wins his first one and understands what it takes to win, he’s going to win multiple. We have two competitions left in the regular season and he has the ability to win one or both of those tournaments.
“He has already proven he is one of the best players in the Big Ten and over the next couple of years, he has the opportunity to be one of the best players in the country.”