By MEGAN ROWLEY
IOWA CITY, Iowa — When it comes to University of Iowa golf, success is often followed by the last name Ihm. However, for UI senior Amy Ihm, it took a push from her brother, Steven, five years ago to lead her to the sport.
“I grew up playing a lot of different sports,” said Ihm. “In high school I was very attached to volleyball, so initially that’s what I really wanted to do in college. When I got the opportunity to play golf, I thought it was a better fit.”
Entering the women’s golf program as a walk on her freshman year, Ihm had big shoes to fill, compliments of her older brother Steven.
“I definitely jumped at the opportunity to play golf at Iowa; especially with my brother playing there at the time,” said Amy. “I entered the program as a walk on, so I knew I had some catching up to do.”
Steven, a three-time PING All-Region honoree, was the first Hawkeye to earn three All-Big Ten honors in his career. In his senior campaign, Ihm won the third and fourth individual tournament titles (Hawkeye-GRE Invitational, Boilermaker Invitational) of his career, tying for the second-most career tournament victories in program history. Steven concluded his Hawkeye career at NCAA Regionals in Columbia, Missouri, posting a 221 (+5) to tie for for 34th overall.
Steven was tabbed as the Big Ten Golfer of the Week five times in his career, and was named Golfweek National Player of the Week on April 21, 2014 following his victory at the Boilermaker Invitational. In his career, Ihm registered two of the top four single-season scoring averages, and three of the top 16, in program history. His 2013-14 average of 71.45 is the second-best mark all-time.
“Steven had such a great career at Iowa it really did inspire me,” said Amy. “He had so many people that got behind him and really bought into him. Seeing that support, I always wanted to work to be in the same position as he was. He was a leader of the team and I think I really grew into that role this year. That was exciting for me.”
This season, Amy led the Hawkeye squad with seven top-10 finishes in 10 tournaments. She became the first Hawkeye since Lauren English (2013) to earn Big Ten Golfer of the Week honors for her performance at the Johnie Imes Invitational on Sept. 28-29, and added another weekly honor following a fourth place finish at the Entrada Classic on March 14-15. Her season-long efforts cumulated to a second team All-Big Ten honor — Iowa’s first all-conference selection since Stacey Bergman (1998) and eighth in program history.
The Peosta, Iowa, native holds the program records for individual 54-hole performance (-5; 211), individual 36-hole performance (-6; 138), and individual 18-hole performance (-4; 68). In her senior campaign, Amy registered a 73.1 stroke average — the lowest season average in program history by 3.2 strokes.
With a laundry list of accomplishments, Steven and Amy Ihm are arguably the most accomplished golfers in Iowa program history. For their father Jim Ihm, their success was the journey of a lifetime.
“It has been an absolutely incredible journey,” said Jim. “They both worked so hard. The University of Iowa has given both of them the coaches and facilities to be successful and to pursue their dreams of playing professional golf. I couldn’t be more proud of them.
“Amy has really exceeded our expectations. She has worked so hard. This year she really bought into the team mantra and took on that leadership role. She has done such a fantastic job and has collected the accomplishments to show it.”
Amy concluded her record-breaking Hawkeye career much like her brother Steven — in NCAA Regional competition. Amy earned a bid to the NCAA Bryan Regional where she became the first UI women’s golfer to compete in NCAA postseason competition since Stacey Arnold in 1990 and the second individual qualifier in program history. Ihm finished the regional with a three-round total of 231 (+15; 79, 75, 77) to tie for 69th overall.
“The scores might not have been what I wanted to finish on but I really enjoyed it and made the most of the opportunity,” said Ihm. “I can’t let this tournament define my career and I think it’s important to focus on all the good that happened this year.
“As tough as it is going out on this note I think it’s important to look at how far I’ve come and really focus on the positives this year. It was an incredible senior campaign and I’m so thankful for everything that this game has given me. It’s taught me so much about myself and has brought some amazing people into my life.”
While her accomplishments speak for themselves, Amy hopes to leave a different kind of legacy with the program.
“I hope people remember me as someone who pushed them to be their best everyday,” said Amy. “Whether it was in practice or on the course, I hope they remember the effort I put forward.”
In 1990, Stacey Arnold qualified for NCAA postseason competition as an individual. In 1991, the Iowa women’s golf team made their first appearance at the NCAA Championships as a team. Ihm hopes that history can repeat itself.
“This team, next year, is going to be so good,” said Amy. “I hope my regional experience really lights a fire under them. I hope they really believe that they can get there next year because they are so talented. Half of making it that far is knowing that you can.”