Iowa men’s golf’s Alex Schaake and Benton Weinberg have special bond

The two redshirt seniors have formed a great friendship throughout their Hawkeye careers.


Hannah Kinson

Benton Weinberg takes a starting shot during a golf invitational at Finkbine Golf Course on Saturday, April 20, 2019. Iowa came in first with a score of 593 against 12 other teams.

Chris Werner, Sports Reporter

Alex Schaake and Benton Weinberg both came to Iowa back in 2016 with high hopes, as they began their collegiate golf career with the Hawkeyes.

In the fall of that year, Schaake was a highly touted prospect out of Omaha, Nebraska. The top recruit in the state coming out of high school, he competed in three of the five tournaments.

He was very confident coming out of Creighton Prep. In high school, Schaake hit predominantly draws – right-to-left shots – and thought he would just keep playing that shot at Iowa and his game would keep improving. Draws did not elevate his game. They did the opposite.

Schaake averaged nearly 74 shots per round, a number he wasn’t used to as he would routinely shoot under-par in his high school tournaments.

“My freshman year of college I was not very good,” Schaake said. “I hit draws which is not at all how my game is now. I tried to hit it really far, I did some things freshman year that I wasn’t necessarily proud of.”

In the 2017 Big Ten Men’s Championships, Schaake made the decision to go to a fade shot almost exclusively, hitting it left-to-right.

The change paid off as he shot a season-best four-under-par 68 in the final round.

Schaake said he has never gone back to the draw since that day, and his scores show that the fade was the correct decision.

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Schaake averaged 71.88 in 2017-18, 71.00 the next year, earning Big Ten Men’s Golfer of the Year, and 71.55 last year, through the fall and just three spring tournaments before the rest of the spring season was canceled because of COVID-19.

Weinberg’s career at Iowa has followed a similar trend, at least statistically.

The Potomac, Maryland, native played sparingly during his first season with the Hawkeyes, posting a 74.89 average in 2016-17. Then Weinberg improved each of the next two seasons, making more than a 1.5 shot improvement from his sophomore to junior seasons.

Like Schaake, he posted a higher average than the past two seasons during the shortened season last year, but that could be in part because of the weather.

They didn’t have an opportunity to play as many spring rounds as normal in the warmer weather, which allows the ball to fly farther. That typically leads to better scores.

Through the trials and tribulations of their Hawkeye careers, Schaake and Weinberg have become close friends. They practice together and have lived together for the last few years.

“We’re in the same class, obviously we came into Iowa at the same time,” Weinberg said. “We are at the same points in our lives, if that makes sense. We’ve grown a lot in college, so we have a lot of similarities in that regard.”

The two upperclassmen even battled it out earlier this month in a sudden-death playoff at The Harvest tournament in Schaake’s home state. Weinberg came out on top, beating Schaake with a par on the first extra hole.

“I hate Benton,” Schaake said jokingly. “We basically do everything together. We go out to eat together, we go to practice together, we drive everywhere together. It’s not like there’s any rivalry or anything like that. But obviously, we don’t like to lose to each other.”

Schaake and Weinberg will get one more crack at it as Hawkeyes once they begin its season this spring.