Iowa men’s golfer Alex Schaake eyeing professional career

Through the PGA Tour University program, Schaake could earn Korn Ferry Tour status by the end of the 2020-21 collegiate season.



Iowa’s Alex Schaake embraces family members after winning the Hawkeye Invitational at Finkbine Golf Course on Sunday, April 18, 2021. Iowa won the invitational 24 under par.

Chris Werner, Sports Reporter

Last fall, Iowa men’s golfer Alex Schaake was forced to play in collegiate tournaments as an individual because of COVID-19. At the time, the Big Ten Conference didn’t allow team-affiliated golf competitions in an effort to help curb the spread of the virus.

As a result, Schaake had to pay for his own food, transportation, and lodging — expenses that are normally covered for him by Iowa Athletics.

Schaake’s experience was not unlike that of a mini-tour golfer working their way through the lower levels of the sport in an effort to make the PGA or Korn Ferry Tours.

Reflecting back on the Fall 2020 season, Schaake quickly realized the mini-tour lifestyle may not be for him.

“If I can get on the PGA Tour after my first mini-tour event, I’m going to do it,” Schaake told The Daily Iowan after the Golf Club of Georgia Amateur Invitational in October. “Driving 12 hours to Atlanta was not any fun at all. To be able to get some money early on in my career would be nice. Hopefully be full-time on the Korn Ferry [Tour] or PGA [Tour], or whatever it is. Just somewhere where I have a stable paycheck if I keep performing well.”

When the 2020-21 collegiate season concludes at the end of May, Schaake may not have to play

Through PGA Tour University — a new program that rewards NCAA Division I Men’s Golfers that have completed four or more years of college with opportunities for status on PGA Tour-sanctioned circuits — Schaake may not have to live the mini-tour life after all.

The top five players on the PGA Tour University rankings — calculated in partnership with the World Amateur Golf Ranking — at the end of the college season will receive membership on the Korn Ferry Tour from the time the collegiate season ends to the end of the Korn Ferry Tour’s season in August.

Golfers that rank inside the PGA Tour University top five will also be exempt from the final stage of qualifying for the Korn Ferry Tour’s 2022 season.

Players that rank worse than fifth but better than 15th in the PGA Tour University rankings will receive status on the Forme Tour — formerly known as the Mackenzie Tour — PGA Tour Latinoamerica, or PGA Tour Series-China.

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Players ranked sixth through 15th will also automatically advance to the second stage of Korn Ferry Tour qualifying.

As it stands now, Schaake clocks in at 11th in the PGA Tour University rankings.

The 2020-21 Big Ten Player of the Year was thinking about turning pro after he graduated in May 2020. A lack of opportunities because of COVID-19 and the PGA Tour University program, however, brought Schaake back to Iowa City for the 2020-21 season

“It definitely crossed my mind that I wanted to turn pro [after last season],” Schaake said. “The thing that really caught my eye was the PGA Tour University stuff. That was a big reason why I came back, and it was a good decision. Hopefully, I can stay in that top 15 and try to get in that top five.”

Schaake has gotten a small taste of professional golf before. He played in both the 2018 and 2020 editions of the Korn Ferry Tour’s Pinnacle Bank Championship in his hometown — Omaha, Nebraska. In 2018, Schaake missed the event’s cut. He bounced back and made the cut in 2020.

“When I played those final two rounds [at the 2020 event], I felt like I belonged out there,” Schaake said. “I felt like that is what I want to do for a living.”

Before his professional career begins, Schaake still has some college golf left to play. May 17-19 he will lead the sixth-seeded Hawkeyes into the Cle Elum NCAA Regional. The Hawkeyes will play in the 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships May 28-June 2 if they advance out of the Cle Elum regional.