After the Gophers men’s golf team’s trips to Florida, Georgia and Louisiana in previous weeks, its 305-mile drive to Iowa City, Iowa, will feel almost like a home meet.
Eleven teams will compete in the 19th-annual Hawkeye Invite, which will be played at the par-72 Finkbine Golf Course in Iowa City. Two rounds will be played Saturday, and the final round will be played Sunday.
The Big Ten will make up more than half of the field. The Hawkeyes are coming off of a second-place finish at the LSU Invitational on April 1. Three Hawkeyes players finished in the top 10 individually at the invitational.
Minnesota’s Erik Van Rooyen finished third at the same event.
“Iowa’s the highest ranked team,” Minnesota head coach John Carlson said. “They’re coming off a really impressive performance at LSU, so they’re going to be a very formidable opponent there.”
Aside from less travel, Minnesota could benefit from playing a course in the Midwest, which offers different playing conditions in terms of weather and types of grass.
“The ball certainly doesn’t travel as far [in colder environments],” Carlson said. “You’re playing with a little bit more clothing on, but otherwise it’s still golf — every hole has a tee box and a green, and these players still have to compete just like they would in any other tournament.”
That being said, Carlson said playing at Iowa’s course could benefit northern teams because they play on similar courses at home.
“[The greens] react completely differently to a golfer,” Carlson said. “And we’re definitely more accustomed to playing on bent greens. The roll of the golf ball will be very similar to what we see at Les Bolstad [Golf Course].”
Carlson said the players used a weekend off last week to improve elements of their games that they struggled with in past tournaments.
The Gophers also held a four-round qualifying event at Southview Country Club in West St. Paul, Minn., which will shape their lineup at the Hawkeye Invite. Minnesota will roll with Van Rooyen, Robert Bell, David Haley Jr. and Tyler Lowenstein. Alex Gaugert will replace Jon Trasamar.
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