Iowa golf notebook | Hawkeyes head south to open spring season

The Iowa men’s team will compete in the Puerto Rico Classic, while the women begin 2023 in New Orleans at the Tulane Classic.


Hannah Kinson

Iowa’s Mac McClear holds the flag during the men’s golf Hawkeye Invitational on Saturday, April 17, 2021 at Finkbine Golf Course.

Chris Werner, Assistant Sports Editor

Both the Iowa men’s and women’s golf teams are set to begin their spring seasons on Sunday. The men will begin the year at the Puerto Rico Classic, while the women start in New Orleans at the Tulane Classic.

Each respective event will consist of 54 holes of stroke play over three days of action. 

The men’s team will compete against  No. 9 Tennessee, No. 16 Oklahoma, No. 24 Ohio State, No. 28 Purdue, No. 31 Georgia, No. 42 East Tennessee State, No. 44 Ole Miss, No. 45 Marquette, the College of Charleston, Maryland, South Carolina and Wisconsin. 

Iowa has played in the Puerto Rico Classic three times — 2019, 2021, and 2022 — and senior Mac McClear led the Hawkeyes individually last season with a ninth-place finish at the tournament. 

McClear’s 10 birdies in the final round of last season’s event helped Iowa to a 10th-place team finish a season ago. 

McClear will be one of three Iowa players competing this week who played in the 2022 Puerto Rico Classic, alongside fellow senior Ronan Kleu and junior Callum Macfie.

Although Kleu and Macfie both finished outside the top 50 individually at last season’s tournament, head coach Tyler Stith said his players’ familiarity with Grand Reserve Golf Course will benefit Iowa.

“It’s always good when you don’t have to re-learn a golf course,” Stith said. “Lines off tees, things like that which you typically try to get done in the practice round. As a player, it gives you confidence when you already know where you need to hit it. It eliminates a little bit of uncertainty, so I think having a handful of guys who played down there last year definitely helps.”

Freshman Hogan Hansen and sophomore Ian Meyer will round out the Hawkeyes’ lineup.

The winner of the Puerto Rico Classic will receive an exemption into the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open from March 2-5. 

Iowa is scheduled to begin round one at 6:30 a.m. central time and is paired with Wisconsin and the College of Charleston. Live scoring can be found here.

The women’s team will begin the spring season at the Tulane Classic — an event the Hawkeyes competed in last season. 

Unlike the men’s team, however, the women’s lineup includes four freshmen — Kaitlyn Hanna, Shannyn Vogler, Riley Lewis, and Madison Dabagia —  and sophomore Paula Miranda, who is the lone player who competed in the 2022 event. 

“I think it gives us a blank slate,” head coach Megan Menzel said of her young team. “We’ve talked a lot about managing expectations at this golf course. The average score tends to be higher than what you see in a lot of golf tournaments because there is some water, there’s firm greens, and this time of year, you’ll get some bare lies. We just want them to be realistic so that they can keep fighting if something doesn’t go quite as planned. We expect to have some adversity.”

Miranda finished in a tie for 30th at 18-over-par in New Orleans last season with rounds of 81, 76, and 77 on the par-72 layout. 

“I remember last year, we had some tough conditions with wind, it played a little long,” Miranda said. “But I think it’s a great course,  lot of opportunities. I feel like if you play it smart, have a good strategy, you’re able to do very well on this course. It’s a really fun event to play.”

Iowa will compete in an 18-team field that includes  Arkansas State, Boston College, Cal Poly, Central Arkansas, Charleston Southern, Chattanooga, Howard, Incarnate Word, Memphis, Missouri State, Purdue, Rutgers, South Dakota, Southern Mississippi, UTEP, Tulane and Wichita State.

The Hawkeyes are paired with Central Arkansas and UTEP and will begin play at 10:12 a.m. central time. Live scoring can be found here.