Quality coaching key to Iowa golf’s success

Coaching college golf is sometimes a daunting task, but Iowa men’s and women’s golf head coaches Tyler Stith and Megan Menzel take the challenge in stride.

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The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

Iowa head coach Tyler Stith walks on the green during the Hawkeye Invitational at Finkbine Golf Course on Sunday, April 16, 2017. The Hawkeyes finished second, behind Texas Tech, in the tournament after three rounds scoring 859 (-5; 289, 285, 285).

Austin Hanson, Assistant Sports Editor


Golf is an individual game. Golfers create their own success, but others help them sustain it.

Despite the isolation the game provides both in practice and on the course outside factors can determine golfers’ effectiveness. Coaching is one of the external factors that can help golfers succeed, especially at Iowa.

When [collegiate golfers get to Iowa], they’ve had [swing coaches], some of [them for] their entire lives,” Iowa men’s golf head coach Tyler Stith said. “We don’t try to change their golf swings a whole lot. We try to help them understand what makes them successful and kind of what makes their swing work. Then, we try to build off of that and just help them do what they do as efficient and as well as they can.”

Iowa women’s golf head coach Megan Menzel shared Stith’s views, arguing that minor tweaks are the key to success, rather than major swing changes.

I heard a great quote from a really good golf coach one time: ‘You’re just trying to add a little spice to their soup,’” Menzel said. “Obviously we recruited [our golfers] for a reason, and we know what they can do as players. You’re wanting to continue to develop them, but we try to establish really good relationships with their swing coaches and want [the golfers] to feel comfortable.”

Coaching collegiate golf goes beyond course management, swing mechanics, and putting techniques.

For the Hawkeye coaching staff, keeping golfers healthy over the course of a long season is as important as anything.

RELATED: Iowa surges late in Big Ten Match Play

We talk about our diet, sleep, washing our hands all the time,” Stith said. “It’s not glamorous, but it can make a huge difference. With such a small team, if one guy gets sick, all of us could get sick pretty quick.

So, it’s flu season, I carry around [hand sanitizer] in my bag and every time we get off a plane, I’m just like a mom. I sit there, and I put it in all [the golfers] hands and make them wash their hands. I make sure they’re eating nutritious food and make sure they’re getting sleep.”

Reigning Big Ten Golfer of the Year Alex Schaake quipped about assistant coach Charlie Hoyle’s efforts to keep the team healthy.

Charlie buys all these Emergen-C vitamins,” Schaake said. “No, I’m just kidding, it’s just getting good sleep. You eat healthy; Coach [Stith] makes us eat veggies at dinner and stuff like that. Coach gives us an off day or a light day at practice [following the conclusion of a tournament], which is very helpful for recovering.”

One of the most challenging aspects of this time of the season is constant trips to southern locations.

The travel is relentless. It’s the responsibility of the coaches to make the transition from Iowa to courses all over the country as smooth as possible.

We do what we can to try to simulate [real golf conditions when practicing indoors],” Stith said. “There’s nothing better than actually being on grass. We’ve traveled twice already, and so from that standpoint, I feel like we’re as prepared as we can be.

We took a training trip the week before the [Big Ten Match Play], and we didn’t play outside for three days, and we went down there and we hit the ball great. Sometimes a little bit of time away can be good, as long as when we’re [practicing inside], we’re maximizing our time.”

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