Iowa offensive lineman takes a short break during a Polk County I-Club event at Wakonda in Des Moines.
Instead of pumping iron Monday, a half-dozen Hawkeye football players were hitting them.
Golf is a summer-time escape for some guys in the Iowa program, a chance to take a break from the intense summer conditioning program that began last week.
“A lot of us go out and play once or twice a week,” said starting right tackle Ike Boettger, who was one of dozens of celebrity players at the Polk County I-Club outing at the Wakonda Golf Club. “I don’t think any of us are that good, but we have a lot of fun doing it.”
Among the players who pull out the clubs in the summer months, Boettger said, are quarterback C.J. Beathard and linebacker Josey Jewell.
Who’s the best on the team? That’s up for debate, but fullback Drake Kulick, tight end Peter Pekar and defensive back Brandon Snyder seem to be the front-runners. (Interestingly, all are walk-ons.)
“I grew up three blocks from a golf course,” said Snyder, a multi-sport star at West Lyon High School in northwest Iowa and the Hawkeyes’ starting free safety. “We would ride our bikes out there every day and just golf just for fun. It was kind of the hangout back home.”
The starting free safety for the Hawkeyes might be one of the team's best golfers. Chad Leistikow/HawkCentral.com
Snyder showed he’s got game Monday. With a small group of onlookers, he stuck a 7-iron to within 15 feet — with backspin — of the par-3, 180-yard ninth hole.
“Nice, easy 7,” Snyder grinned.
Then, he walloped a drive down the 10th fairway.
Boettger has length off the tee, too.
“I’ll just say over 300 (yards),” the 305-pound Cedar Falls native said. “If I hit them straight.”
Though Monday’s event was a big-time fund-raiser for Hawkeye sports — it costs $1,600 person per foursome, and the Polk County I-Club in turn writes a big check to the Iowa athletic department — the players see value in finding non-football ways to bond.
In addition to getting their bodies ready for the regular-season grind, finding chemistry this summer is important — as the 2015 showed with a 12-0 regular season and 12-2 final record. Every team is different.
So far, so good.
“It feels like last year. We’re just as hungry. We haven’t fallen off,” Snyder said. “We’ve just got to make sure we realize last year was a great year, but this is something new.”