The Iowa women’s golf team will start its spring season this week at the Big Ten Match Play Championship at the Island Course at Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor, Florida.
The field for the bracket-style event includes 10 Big Ten teams: Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers, and Wisconsin.
Iowa, the No. 9 seed, will face 10th-seeded Rutgers on Monday and play another match that afternoon. The Hawkeyes will play a final match on Tuesday before returning to Iowa City.
Iowa finished 10th of 12 teams in the 2021 Big Ten Match Play Championships.
Hawkeye head coach Megan Menzel said the match play format — where score is kept by hole rather than by stroke — will be a good way for her team to begin the spring slate.
“Match play is a great format to kind of get some rust off and get to compete and have some fun,” Menzel told The Daily Iowan. “It’s very different than stroke play. I think it’ll be a really great way for us to get started.
“I think [the format] provides a little bit of freedom, you know, as you’re kind of getting comfortable and getting back out to competition,” Menzel added. “You can probably be a little bit more aggressive, at times, than you maybe normally would. It really teaches you to just kind of play hole-by-hole, which is what you should be doing in stroke play, but it’s certainly easier when you’re not writing down your score at the end of each hole.”
Each team will bring five participants to the head-to-head matches. The first team to three match wins gets the overall victory.
Iowa will travel with six players: Freshman Paula Miranda, sophomore Klara Wildhaber, juniors Lea Zeitler and Morgan Goldstein, and seniors Dana Lerner and Manuela Lizarazu.
Miranda, Iowa’s No. 1 player in the fall, said the Hawkeyes have worked with the TrackMan simulators inside of the Hoak Family Golf Complex. The simulator has an option to play the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Golf Resort.
While the Copperhead Course isn’t the same as the Island Course, Miranda said, it is very similar to the track.
“Now that we’re practicing indoors, we have the TrackMan golf simulator and they actually have Innisbrook in there,” Miranda said. “We’ve been playing that course virtually here in Iowa City. So, I think it’s a great advantage for us to see the course and get prepared for it.”
Although the Hawkeyes’ goal is to win as many matches as possible, Menzel said she’s hoping her student athletes will feel better about their golf games after the championship.
“I think that [it’ll be a good week if] we leave there just all feeling more comfortable with our games,” Menzel said. “Obviously, we’d love to pick up a couple of wins and obviously that’s what we’re there to do. So, I think, you know, those two goals would be awesome. We just want to make sure each day we’re feeling a little bit stronger and a little more comfortable where our games are at.”