By Jordan Zuniga
This past weekend, the Iowa golf team had its best performance if the season, finishing second in the Hawkeye Invitational at Finkbine.
The second-place finish came after the Hawkeyes failed to finish in the top eight in any of the other tournament this year.
While the second-place finish might have been one place off of the one they wanted, the Hawkeyes’ finish still means a lot to this team, especially one that is so young. After losing two top of the leaderboard golfers last season in Raymond Knoll and Carson Schaake, this year could be seen as a bit of a rebuilding season.
That shows in the Hawkeyes’ youth. Iowa has two juniors and just one senior to go with seven underclassmen. With a team that full of underclassmen, head coach Tyler Stith has to spend a bit more time coaching each of the golfers.
“I’m a little more hands on when it comes to competition,” he said. “I am a bit more involved with them. But it’s exciting [having] new faces and new challenges. This is a talented group, and what we lack in experience we make up for in other areas.”
A lot of the talent on this young team can be found in the sophomore Alex Schaake, who has started in all tournaments this year for the Hawkeyes and became the on-course leader for the team.
“Alex has been a real leader for us on the golf course this year,” Stith said. “He’s one of the guys who just continues to get better and improve each and every week.”
Schaake leads the Hawkeyes in rounds at or below par with 10, top-10 finishes with four, and 18-hole average of 71.7.
He’s definitely made some major strides as a sophomore, and that is due in large part to how he’s started each hole.
“The main thing that I’ve done differently is driving the ball better,” Schaake said in a release. “The tournaments I’ve played well in, I’ve been putting well. If you can do those two things, you’ll be fine in college golf.”
Superb putting and driving are definitely helpful to a young golfer, but Schaake has something else that has helped his success on the golf course this season.
He has the experience of seeing older brother Carson Schaake be a successful college golfer with the Iowa golf team.
“I think having an older brother who was an extremely accomplished golfer has helped Alex his entire life,” Stith said. “They’re extremely close, but they’re also extremely competitive. They make each other better. Alex has had the benefit of learning from Carson.”
The competition between the two helped Alex Schaake get to Iowa, but sometimes a little brother can be overshadowd by an older brother.
This season, Alex Schaake’s first without his brother on the team, has proved to everyone that he is more than just a little brother.
“Alex is his own player,” Stith said. “I believe he’s grown out of that shadow, and before his Hawkeye career is over, he’ll be a college champion as well.”
Iowa’s next chance to swing the clubs in competition will be Saturday and April 22 at the Kepler Intercollegiate Tournament in Columbus, Ohio.