Nick played in the Sunnehanna Amateur from the 14th to the 17th June – this was his first post college tournament. 

The Sunnehanna Amateur, officially the Sunnehanna Amateur Tournament for Champions, is a men’s amateur golf tournament.  Founded in 1954, it is hosted annually at the Sunnehanna Country Club in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, United States. It is considered to be one of the top amateur golf tournaments held in the United States and is classified as a Category A event by the World Amateur Golf Rankings.

The Sunnehanna Amateur is played in stroke play format; 72 holes (four rounds) held over four days. Many current and former PGA Tour, Champions Tour, Walker Cup and Ryder Cup players have competed in the tournament. Tiger Woods played in the tournament twice, finishing 5th in 1992 and tied for 12th in 1993.

Nick finished in a tie for 3rd at 12 under – 1 behind the eventual tournament winner Braden Thornberry who won in a playoff against Colin Morikawa.  He had rounds of 65, 70, 65 and 68.  He had a disappointing three putt on the last which cost him the tournament.

In Nick’s own words…..

I hit the ball really well this week and had good control over my emotions.  I devised a really good pre tournament goal I will keep with me for a long time – I have been struggling with my mindset heading into a tournament – outsome versus process and didn’t really know what to focus on.  I now understand that I should be heading into each round with the goal of simply finding my best, whatever that is for the day.  It takes away the outcome measurements and pressures and puts all the emphasis on staying gritty and shooting the best score I can for the day.

My putting wasn’t the greatest this past week – not bad at all but not good enough.  Five out of my eleven bogey’s were from three putts which needs to improve.  My chipping wasn’t bad either but I didn’t give myself many opportunities – on average I missed three greens in regulation per round and most of them were into bunkers.  Short game sharpening up is on the horizon this coming week : )

Sunnehanna Amateur Foundation Incorporated
Sunnehanna Amateur Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2015. The primary purpose of the Sunnehanna Amateur Foundation, Inc. is the promotion of a national and international amateur golf competition, Sunnehanna Amateur Tournament, held annually in Johnstown, PA. The tournament invites players who have participated in the Walker Cup, NCAA, USGA Amateur Events, and players who rank in the top 150 of the Golfweek/Sagarin Amateur Rankings. Also invited are top rank juniors and champions of other major amateur tournaments. In addition, the Sunnehanna Amateur conducts a 18 hole qualifier, which the top four players earn a spot in the Sunnehanna Amateur. The tournament is a 72 hole event played over four days. The Sunnehanna Amateur is a designated point tournament and players can earn points which count toward the Golfweek/Sagarin Amateur Ranking.

Second, the Sunnehanna Amateur will sponsor youth educational activities, such as an instructional golf clinic for children in the Greater Johnstown area. The players who are participating in the Sunnehanna Amateur will conduct basic instructions on the golf swing. Each child will receive a hat for participating at the clinic. In addition, children who have played in junior events or on high school golf teams will play with one of the participants in the Junior-Amateur tournament.

This year’s contributions will aid the Johnstown Backpack Project, an effort of nine local organizations working together to ensure that children do not go hungry over the weekend. Volunteers pack bags full of ready-to-eat meals that reach more than 350 children in the Johnstown area every weekend during the school year. 

The Course at Sunnehanna Country Club

The golf course at Sunnehanna is a terrific example of an Albert W. Tillinghast design. Perched on a hilltop, the course meanders 360 degrees around the clubhouse. The greens are basically small in size, well bunkered, requiring accurate iron play. The ball needs to be placed below the pin to produce the best chance for a birdie. Fairway bunkers generally are only on one side of the fairway, which is a typical Tillinghast characteristic.

Like many of its brethren designed in the early 1920’s, the course has evolved over time. Built prior to the advent of central watering systems, Sunnehanna was designed to play bump and run shots. The course when playing as designed, plays hard and fast with shots meant to be played short of the greens. This accounts for the open entrance to the greens. The course was relatively free of trees. 

In 1956, in response to the success of the Sunnehanna Amateur and the growing influence of parkland golf, Sunnehanna would also change. New trees were added throughout the course, specifically mentioned in tournament notes were 50 trees on the right of number 6 and  number 11, to name a few. 

Sunnehanna is truly a great golf course that has withstood the test of time. The club has recently begun the reconstruction of the fairway and greenside bunkers to return them to their originally intended design. Greens, which had also shrunk, have been brought back to their original size. These subtle changes have resulted in a more aesthetically interesting and demanding course. It is a layout that members and the best players in amateur golf recognize as a terrific test of golf, which is fair and challenging at the same time. 

With these relatively minor changes performed on the course, the scoring average for the Amateur field has changed very little in the 47-year history of the Sunnehanna Amateur. 

The average score over all the years has been 74.09 for 18 holes. A round of golf played on the beautiful course can rarely be described as a “good walk spoiled”.

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Nick Voke Golf moving forward……..

The last four years at Iowa State University have simply been incredible.  The improvement in my golf game throughout my time in college has been surpassed only by the development of my character – the life lessons, experiences and memories will be with me forever. Having just recently graduated though, I now look forward to the next phase of my life where I will pursue my dream as a touring professional.

The next four to twelve months are going to be very exciting!  Although the options and possibilites are endless, there is a substantial amount of uncertainty when considering which professional tour to join and where to base myself.  Bearing in mind some of the restrictions I will soon encounter – I will try and lay out a simplifed version of my plan here.

 I believe that from a development perspective, Iowa State is the best place for me to base myself in the short-term. The coaches, facilities and competition combine to provide an environment I can’t immediately replicate by myself anywhere else.  Therefore, I will be staying on campus until December 2017.  In order for me to maintain a student visa and some financial aid, I am competing an Internship at a local Chiropractor that the athletic department utilises.  This great opportunity to work alongside Dr. Feil allows me the freedom I need to compete and train at a world-class level while also furthering my academic interests in the ‘real-world’.

 In terms of my upcoming golf – I will be playing a full summer schedule of amateur golf here in the USA while also completing some hours for my Chiropractoric internship. The events are below…

1. Sunnehanna Amateur​ – ​Pennyslvania​ – 14th to 17th June ​

2. North-East Amatuer​​ – Rhode Island​​ – 21st to 24th June 

3. Trans-Miss Amateur​​ – Kansas​ – 10th to 13th July ​​

4. Western Amateur​​ – Illinios​​​ – 31st July to 5th August 

5. US Amatuer​​​ – California​ – 14th to 21st August​

My first attempt at securing status on a professional circuit will be in October 2017 on the US tour (stepping stone to the US PGA Tour).  I will be competing in the QualifyingSschool as an amateur.  The details are below:

Pre-qualifying​ ​Exempt Status

1st Stage ​​- Arbor Links – Nebraska​​​ – 3rd to 6th October 

2nd Stage – TPC Craig Ranch – Texas​ – 7th to 11th November 

Final Stage​ – Whirlwind Golf Club – Arizona​​ – 7th to 11th December

I will also be competing in the 2017 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in late October at Royal Wellington Golf Club in New Zealand.  This event takes place in between the 1st and 2nd stage of the qualifying school.  I have come close in previous years and have a good shot at winning this year – the winner receives an invitation to the 2018 Masters.

Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship​ ​- Royal Wellington Golf Club – New Zealand – 21st to 24th October

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Living the Dream – Iowa State University 2013 to 2017

As the saying goes “time flies when you’re having fun”.  Nick has just finished his final year at Iowa State University (ISU) where he completed a degree in kinesiology.  Kinesiology is the scientific study of human or non-human body movement. Kinesiology addresses physiological, biomechanical, and psychological mechanisms of movement.  Nick started at ISU in September 2013 embarking on a four year program that has seen him flourish academically, as a golfer but most importantly as a human being.

Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm (now Iowa State University) was officially established on March 22, 1858, by the legislature of the State of Iowa. Story County was selected as a site on June 21, 1859, and the original farm of 648 acres was purchased for a cost of $5,379. The Farm House, the first building on the Iowa State campus, was completed in 1861, and in 1862, the Iowa legislature voted to accept the provision of the Morrill Act, which was awarded to the agricultural college in 1864. Iowa Agricultural College (Iowa State College of Agricultural and Mechanic Arts as of 1898), as a land grant institution, focused on the ideals that higher education should be accessible to all and that the university should teach liberal and practical subjects. These ideals are integral to the land-grant university.

The first official class entered at Ames in 1869, and the first class (24 men and 2 women) graduated in 1872. Iowa State was and is a leader in agriculture, engineering, extension, home economics, and created the nation’s first state veterinary medicine school in 1879. 

In 1959, the college was officially renamed Iowa State University of Science and Technology. The focus on technology has led directly to many research patents and inventions including the first binary computer (the ABC), Maytag blue cheese, the round hay baler, and many more.

Beginning with a small number of students and Old Main, Iowa State University now has approximately 27,000 students and over 100 buildings with world class programs in agriculture, technology, science, and art.

Iowa State University is a very special place, full of history.  But what truly makes it unique is a rare combination of campus beauty, the opportunity to be a part of the land-grant experiment, and to create a progressive and inventive spirit that we call the Cyclone experience. Appreciate what we have here, for it is indeed, one of a kind. 

What attracted Nick to Iowa State was the world class golf facility located near the University campus and the high calibre coaching staff.  The versatile facility consists of indoor and outdoor practice areas.  Indoor, the Cyclones will be able to keep their game sharp all year long, despite rain or snow.  Practicing inside, players will have the advantage of using an indoor putting green large enough to allow for chip shots from the rough.  Not only will golfers be able to practice putting on a green through the winter, they will also have the chance to work on their approach.  Four heated hitting bays are located in the heart of the building, overlooking a private driving range.  Within the property lies 12 different putting greens along with practice fairways. The area includes everything from bunker shots to chips from the rough.

Nick has met some outstanding people and was especially fortunate to start in the same year as Ruben Sondjaja from Sydney, Australia and Jack Carter from Ohio, USA who were not only team and room mates but have become extremely close friends.  They have shared a wonderful journey together.

Nick reflects on his final year as a Cyclone at ISU……

February is far from friendly.  Relentless winds whip through, sculpting mounds of snow that pile high. Jackets, mittens and beanies are ever-present, showcasing the severity of the season. Common sense screams that Ames, in the middle of winter, is reserved for hot chocolate and heaters just like the vast Arctic tundra. The thought of doing something productive outside seems silly. The idea that the local college golf program could improve and develop into a national contender? Only in our wildest dreams.

But what common sense fails to grasp is how Iowa State, a humble and hard-working team from middle-of-nowhere Ames, beat the powerhouse programs of Arizona, Arizona State and UNLV in February to win the NIT college tournament. How can the local golf team stack up against the best in the business when they are, well, from Iowa?

My name is Nick Voke from New Zealand and I was a member of the Iowa State University’s men’s golf team and I will tell you how.

Right from the outset we all knew our programs potential; ‘Cinderella strikes again’ the headlines could read. This could be our year, one for the books and one to remember. But, just as the most beautiful butterfly grows innocently within a cocoon, something special was starting to brew behind closed doors. As an old Greek proverb tells us, “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they will never see”. In an ironic twist, our most decorated season in recent decades was driven by a collective purpose not specifically to win, but to plant the foundations of the trees that will flourish in the years to come.

It was to leave Iowa State in a better place than what we found it.

The music we were playing at the core of our culture was a harmony of humility, courage, discipline and excellence – adding to the cyclones who have been before and leaving it for the cyclones who will follow, in an unbroken rope of life where it was simply our turn to weave.

When individuals commit whole-heartedly to a greater purpose beyond themselves, they surrender their individual ambitions and are strengthened by those around them – past and present. For us – leaders emerged, standards were raised, accountability among ourselves intensified. We started living the ‘hard way’, in the ‘green box’ of behaviors, going above and beyond. The collective effort of 8 individuals, coupled with the best golf facility in the nation and guided by irreplaceable coaches fostered a growth environment – we were to be the best we could possibly be.

We didn’t need to beat Texas, Oklahoma State and Alabama at the National Championship. We need to beat them Every. Single. Day.

The van ride heading back from the Big 12 Championship was dark and gloomy.  Sure, our team had amounted 3 college victories and had etched our names into the record books but something important was missing – a consistency, a performance, or a round that would prime our program from the outskirts and propel us into the realm of the golfing greats.

For those unfamiliar with college golf, our regular season play had secured us a place at the NCAA Regionals. The top 70 or so college golf programs would gather at 6 regional sites across the country to compete for a spot at the NCAA National Championship – the top 5 at each site secure that honor. Our program had tangoed its way to the big dance back in 2014 and we were more eager than ever to return. 

It all came down to the final day, Iowa State was in a tie for 4th at the Austin Regional – right on the brink between a tail-between-the-legs waddle back to Ames or a ceremonious march on to the next stage. We needed to fire on all cylinders. Now or Never.

What followed was my most memorable moment ever to take place on a golf course – magic of the purest form. It rewrote record books, shattered course records and caught national attention.  (See my previous blog )

 On the grandest stage in NCAA post-season play, we unleashed.

 Sam – 71 (even)

Tripp – 68 (-3)

Denzel – 68 (-3)

Ruben – 66 (-5)

Myself – 61 (-10)

It was a combined 21 under par effort from the lads that secured us a trip to nationals.

It was a day of excitement and thrill only ever seen in our wildest dreams.

It was a glimpse into what our program is capable of and where we are heading, but more importantly, it was an effort that will plant the seeds for future generations to come

When Jack, Ruben and I look back over our past 4 years at Iowa State, nothing but heart-warming memories will come flooding back. Although our paths have taken slightly different turns since graduating, we will always share the same pride and appreciation that comes with being an Iowa State Cyclone.

There is something special there, whether it be the mid-west friendliness or the hard-working and humble farmers attitude – I am not entirely sure. All I know is that Ames will always be my home away from home and that I will forever be grateful for those who have been a part of it.

It took me 4 years to realize that adding to the program isn’t what you leave behind engraved on some wall or record book, it is what you are able to weave into the life of the program and its people.

I am sure in many years to come – Jack, Ruben and I will have our little re-union and reminisce over the good times together. The memories about victories and championships will have begun to fade and our records erased by the new crop of golfers. What will continue to stay with us, however, will be the little memories that only a few of us share together that helped to create the foundations for a power-house northern program to grow.

I wouldn’t change it for a thing.

Kia Kaha Iowa State, you are in good hands.

Nick’s achievements while at ISU:

Career leader in victories – 5 

Career stroke average record holder – 71.89

Finished the season with his best national ranking – 45 


Ping Honorable Mention All-American … Ping All-Central Region … First-Team Academic All-Big 12 … led team in stroke average (71.31) and sub-70 rounds (13) … his 71.31 stroke average ranks second on ISU’s season record list … posted four top-10 finishes and two tournament victories (Hawkeye Invite; NCAA Austin Regional) … ranked No. 45 nationally by Golfweek … averaged 3.67 birdies per round … carded rounds of 76-72-75 (223) to tie for 95th before the 54-hole cut at the NCAA Championship … posted a five-shot victory at the NCAA Austin Regional with a school-record 199 (71-67-61) … became the first Cyclone to win a NCAA postseason event … his final-round 61 (-10) shattered the previous school record by three strokes and bested the course record at the UT Golf Club by four shots … only player in school history to record a 10-under round and among four Division I players this year to post a 10-under round … was one stroke shy from his fourth-straight top-10 performance at the Big 12 Championship, tying for 13th at 296 (76-71-75-4=296) … fired a 203, the fourth-best score in school history, at the NIT to tie for second (66-68-69) … was medalist at the Hawkeye Invitational (68-67-72=207) … missed the VCU Shootout while competing in the World Amateur Team Championship and sat out the Pinetree Invite with an injury … posted a 214 to tie for eighth at the Badger Invite … shot a blemish-free 65 in the final round at the Bridgestone Collegiate … his 71.89 career stroke average ranks No. 1 in school history … his 18 career top-10 finishes ties for second in school history … only player in school history to record multiple 7-under rounds … only player in school history and the 11th player in Big 12 history to place in the top-10 at the conference meet three times … has the most career tournament victories in school history with five … owns three of the top six 54-hole scores in school history. 


First-Team All-Big 12 … Ping All-Central Region … NCAA Regional participant … Big 12 All-Tournament team … First-Team Academic All-Big 12 … Cleveland/Srixon All-America Scholar … team leader in stroke average at 71.54, the third-best single-season mark in school history … also led the team in top-10 finishes (6) and sub-70 rounds (13) … placed in the top-25 in 10 out of 11 tournaments … ranked 66th nationally by Golfweek … tied for 22nd at the NCAA Stillwater Regional (70-81-77=228) … finished eighth at the Big 12 Championship to earn all-tournament honors (74-73-71-69=287) … tied for third at the Gopher Invite (215) and tied for second at the VCU Shootout (211) … missed the Bridgestone Collegiate while competing in the Asia-Pacific Amateur … shared medalist honors at the NIT with a 205, his third career tournament title … posted a second-round 65 (7-under) at the NIT, tying for the second-lowest score in relation to par in ISU history … landed in a tie for 10th place at the Desert Shootout (207) after carding two sub-70 rounds … was the runner-up medalist at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational after scoring rounds of 68-68-65 (201), the second-best 54-hole score in ISU history … in the summer, qualified for the U.S. Amateur. 


First Team Academic All-Big 12 … Big 12 All-Tournament team … second on the team in stroke average at 72.41 … ranked 137th nationally by Golfstat … tallied four top-10 finishes and two tournament victories (VCU Shootout; General Hackler) … second on the team in top-10 finishes (4) and sub-70 rounds (8) … tied for 46th at the NCAA Bremerton Regional (71-77-74=222) … tied for 10th (70-73-74-73=290) at the Big 12 Championship… fired three-straight sub-70 rounds (68-69-68) at the ASU Thunderbird to finish third at 205, the ninth-best score in school history … carded a 210 at the Desert Shootout to tie for 13th … won his second tournament title of the year by firing a 212 at the General Hackler Championship … in the second round, posted a 7-under 65 to tie the school record for lowest 18-hole score in relation to par … it also set the course record at the Dunes Golf and Beach Club… third on the team in stroke average in the fall, registering a 74.1 scoring mark … won his first career tournament by claiming medalist honors at the VCU Shootout (74-68-71=213) … tied for 17th at the Badger Invite (74-75-73) at 232.


Big 12 All-Tournament team … broke ISU’s rookie scoring mark, tallying a 72.39 stroke average, the second-best average on the team … led the team in sub-70 rounds with eight … tied for second in top-10 finishes with four … ranked No. 160 by Golfweek … season was cut short by an injury before the NCAA Regional … garnered All-Tournament honors by tying for ninth at the Big 12 Championship … posted his eighth sub-70 round of the season in the final round to finish with a 72-hole mark of 293 … finished 13th at the Hawkeye Invitational, posting a 218 54-hole tally … became the third freshman in school history to record a score of 66 or lower at the Jim West Intercollegiate … posted a 211 at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational, tying for 13th … fired a 213 (77-69-68) at the Desert Intercollegiate to tie for 19th … played the final two rounds of the Desert Intercollegiate at 7-under … led the team in stroke average in the fall at 71.83 … shot a final-round 69 at the David Toms Intercollegiate to tie for seventh (217) … recorded his second career top-10 at the Columbia Regional Preview (T6th) to become the first Cyclone freshman to place in the top-10 in his first two events … shot rounds of 68-73-73 for a 214 total … tied for eighth in his Cyclone debut at the Gopher Invitational with rounds of 70-67-75 … was tied for the lead heading into the final round at the Gopher Invite … placed second at the Iowa Open in the amateur division … took third at the Bay of Plenty Open … was selected to Team New Zealand to play in the Asian Pacific Amateur Championship in China.

What does it mean to be an All American?

An All-America team is a hypothetical American sports team composed of outstanding amateur players. These players are broadly considered by media and other relevant commentators as the best players in a particular sport, of a specific season, for each team position.

Such athletes at the high school and college level are given the honorific title and typically referred to as “All-American athletes” or simply “All-Americans”.

Nick and his Mum Michelle

Ruben Sondjaja, Nick and Jack Carter


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NCAA Nationals – Illinois, USA

After their sensational showing in Austin the Cyclones headed to the NCAA Championships at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove which is just outside Chicago.

The team went into the Nationals as the 29th seed out of 30 teams.  The format of the competition is three rounds of stroke play with the top 15 teams advancing to the match play.  Unfortunately the team finished in a tie for 18th and missed the cut.  

Nick had rounds of 76, 72 and 75 finishing in a tie for 95th.

On a positive note, Nick’s team mate and fellow countrymen, Denzel Ieremia advanced to the individual medalist race.  After the strokeplay he was tied for 31st.  He ended up finishing in a tie for 47th after the fourth and final round.

In Nick’s own words…..

It was a disappointing finish to my career as a Cyclone.  The boys needed to fire in the final round but unfortunately we just couldn’t get things going.  I’m really proud of the boys and how we operated, the coolest thing was that we belonged there and we all know it.  It was the big stage and our program fit right in.  We all played pretty average and nearly squeezed in that cut for the final round and then anything could have happened. 

In terms of how I played – it was really frustrating.  I hit the ball pretty well but shot myself in the foot too many times. There were a few too many sloppy swings at the wrong times and as a result I made quite a few bogeys. My putter was pretty cold this week (through all putting numbers) and therefore I couldn’t capitalize on the birdies or make the momentum building par putts. I wasted a few shots off the tee per round (around 2) which you just can’t do at an event like this. It was an inefficient type of effort – I played decent but scored poorly. 

Rich Harvest Farms

In 1987, Jerry Rich began o develop Rich Harvest Farms, the now 18 hole ultra private golf course that winds through the tranquil and picturesque landscape,

After 10 years of perfecting each hole, all 18 were complete and Rich Harvest Farms was rated the 5th Best New Private Golf Course by Golf Digest.  Three years later, Golf Digest placed the course on “America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses”, where it remains today.

The course has held many prestigious events including the Solheim Cup, the Palmer Cup and the Western Amateur.

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NCAA Regional – Texas, USA

The Cyclones earned the number 9 seed in the NCAA Regionals played in Austin, Texas between the 15th and 17th May.  This is the fourth time in the last six seasons that they have qualified.  The top five teams in the six regionals will qualify for the NCAA Championships to be held at Rich Harvest Farms at Sugar Grove in Illinois.  

The team have been striving towards making the NCAA Regionals all year.

The tournament was played on the University of Texas Golf Club which was home to current world number 6 Jordan Speith.  The Cyclones played well and were tied for fourth after the first round with Nick being tied for 10th individually.  They maintained there position after the second round and Nick moved up the leaderboard to second place.  

It was in the third round that the magic happened – the team produced a staggering 26 birdies and one eagle in their afternoon round, posting a score which was seven shots better than any other team in the field.  They finished third behind Oklahoma State and Texas and secured a berth at the NCAA Championships which is only the second time they have done this since the competition began in 1990.  The first time was in 2014 – Nick was in that team but was unfortunately injured (see the article below courtesy of the Des Moines Regsiter) so making the NCAA Championships in his final year was pretty special.

Nick played an integral part in the team’s success shooting a record setting 61 in the third round.  His 10 under shattered the school 18 hole record (the previous record was 64) and ISU’s 18 hole relation-to-par standard (previous record was 7 under).  He played the last 29 holes of the tournament at 14 under which saw him shoot the second lowest score on NCAA Division 1 this season.  The former competitive course record at the University of Texas Golf Club was a 65 – Nick beat this by four shots.

In Nick’s own words…..

Today was simply sensational. Before the round, I thought to myself that I was in a good position to end the event strong but my main focus was on the team – the guys still needed me to fire on all cyclinders if we wanted to advance.  We were on the bubble, this could be my last event as a Cyclone, a good finish could go a long way and so on – there were a lot of things going through my mind when I was warming up.  To come away from today having played the way I did – the best round of my life when the team needed it felt absolutely incredible.  I was so thrilled for the guys to post a 21 under and come away with an invitation to nationals – WHAT A DAY!

I was  interviewed after the final round and I alluded to how good the week leading up to regionals had been.  The team had such a good week of practice and quality time together.  We scheduled our own things and were really the entreprenuers of our own journey.  I am proud of how we operated in the lead up to the tournament.

I putted magnificently this week – probably the best putting performance I’ve had statistically – 100% inside 5 feet, 85% in the 5 to 8 foot range, 67% in the 9 to 15 foot range and 44% between 15 and 25 foot. Those numbers are world class and allowed me to post 14 under in my last 29 holes.

University of Texas Golf Club (UT Golf Club)

The University of Texas Golf Club is a 7,412 yard, par 71 championship-caliber golf course created by Bechtol Russell Golf Design. Built in the Texas Hill Country, the course overlooks Lake Austin and borders the Balcones Natural Wildlife Preserve, offering challenging shots and views that rival the best in Austin. 

The University of Texas Golf Club was a vision that became a reality when some of today’s most influential University supporters set out on a mission to build a permanent home for The UT Golf Teams and secondary home for The UT Tennis Teams. The University of Texas Golf Club celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2013 and continues to celebrate its many accomplishments! 

‘Full circle’: Iowa State’s Nick Voke finally makes it to the NCAA Championships

By Tommy Birch, Des Moines Register

Nick Voke was riding a longboard down a hill when he turned to talk with Iowa State golf teammate Ruben Sondjaja, who was not far behind him.

That’s when his longboard found a pothole on Ames’ Beach Avenue.

When the board hit the hole, Voke went flying into the air. When he landed, he smacked his head against the ground, landed on his shoulder and was knocked unconscious.

“I woke up with a lot of machinery around me,” Voke said of the 2014 skateboarding accident. “It was a pretty scary moment, not really knowing what’s going on.”

When he first arrived at the hospital that night in May of 2014, doctors feared he’d suffered brain damage. They eventually learned he was seriously concussed and had broken his collarbone.

Just like that, Voke’s golf season was done. His shot at competing at regionals was over.

And all he could do was watch as his friends left to go compete in the NCAA Championships later that month.

“It was tough on all of us,” Iowa State men’s golf coach Andrew Tank said. “It was a really scary accident, to be honest.”
Voke would eventually get back on the golf course and become one of the most successful golfers in Iowa State history. His five career victories is a school record. Earlier this month, he carded a school-record 61 at the NCAA Austin Regional.
But one thing has continued to elude him: A shot to play in the NCAA Championships.

But the wait is finally over — the Iowa State senior will lead the Cyclones back to the NCAA Championships this weekend in Sugar Grove, Ill.

“It’s gone in full circle — from missing out my freshman year to now, it’s my last chance with the team, and getting it and succeeding — it’s a pretty cool feeling,” Voke said.

Finding Iowa State

A native of New Zealand, Voke scoured a college golf guide in his search for the right college to attend. He was still developing and knew that he wanted to land with a school that was on the rise. He looked up the email addresses of coaches on the golfing staffs of the schools ranked 50th to 100th.

He emailed a coach at every one of them, requesting information, and did some research on his own. Voke said about half the schools got back to him. Iowa State was one of them.

The Cyclones had already seen success in recruiting internationally. Duncan Croudis, who was also from New Zealand, had found his way to Ames. So, too, had Scott Fernandez, who hailed from Spain and would go on to have a successful career at Iowa State.

Voke, who knew of Fernandez’s success, emailed Tank, the men’s coach, and now-former assistant coach Patrick Datz and told them he was interested in the Cyclones and even wanted to become the next Scott Fernandez.

Datz had already been looking for players from New Zealand who might have had connections to Croudis. When Voke popped up on their radar, Datz and Tank dug into his scores and saw potential. What impressed them most was how he handled himself in their eventual Skype conversations with him.

“It was more based on his results that he’d had,” Tank said. “It looked like he was kind of on the upswing, so to speak. He was starting to play well, and I just was kind of impressed with him, as a person, in talking with him.”

Voke also liked what he was hearing. Sondjaja, who had played with him in Sydney, was already headed to Iowa State and had good things to say. Voke had never been to Ames, but was sold enough on the team to pack two suitcases and make the move to middle America.

“I came cold turkey,” Voke said. “I guess I was impressed with the coaches and the numerous conversations we had — and I was impressed with the facility that we had here.”

It didn’t take Tank long to realize that the Cyclones may have gotten a steal. The first time Tank saw Voke play in person was at the 2013 Iowa Open, before school started. Voke finished second in the amateur open division.

“Great golf swing,” Tank said. “Just the way he carried himself on the course, you could tell that he was a good player.”

Voke’s first season in Ames was a success. He tied for eighth in his Iowa State debut at the Gopher Invitational. Voke broke Iowa State’s rookie scoring mark with a 72.39 stroke average, led the team in sub-70 rounds, with eight, and was a Big 12 All-Tournament team pick. With regionals in May, he was on track to help the Cyclones get back to the NCAA Championsips.

The accident

With the last of his finals behind him in his first year at Iowa State, Voke and Sondjaja decided to celebrate. The two took to Ames’ roadways with their longboards, in search of the best hills. At around 11 p.m., they came to the one on Beach Avenue, near Jack Trice Stadium.

When Voke got to the bottom of the hill, he didn’t even see the pothole his longboard was headed for. After the two connected, Voke went soaring into the air. After hitting the ground, he was foaming at the mouth, had scratched his face and broken his collarbone. And he was out cold. Five hours later, he woke up in a hospital room, surrounded by machines.

“Seeing him in the hospital probably was one of the scariest moments, for me, as a coach,” Tank said.
Voke underwent surgery — a titanium plate and eight screws to repair the broken collarbone — and his stay in the hospital lasted days. His parents, who couldn’t get to Iowa State right away, knew just by the sound of his voice on the phone how bad things were.

“He was extremely sluggish,” his mom, Michelle Voke, said. “Forming sentences was really, really hard for him. And even having the phone conversation with him, he could only sort of last a couple of minutes just before he would end the conversation because it was just too tiring for him.”

And, emotionally, things would get even more difficult: Iowa State tied for fourth at the NCAA Columbia Regional later that month and qualified for its first NCAA Championship berth since 1953 — all without Voke by their sides. When the team hopped on a flight to Kansas, Voke was caught a ride to the airport to wish his teammates luck and see them off.

“It was just a sad moment, seeing them fly off and knowing that, ‘I’m stuck here, just doing my training, trying to get back to normal,’” Voke said.

Roughly four months went by before he could hit a driver. He saw a trainer five days a week to get work through the physical setbacks he’d suffered, and meditated to help him through the mental anguish he was going through from being kept from the golf course. He often wondered what would become of his golfing career.

Putting, even, would cause him pain at times.

“Just the impact of stroking the blade against the ball — it jolted my whole arm and I just stood there in pain,” Voke said. “(That’s) when I realized I had done some big damage and I needed to take it slow.”

Coming back

By the fall of 2014, Voke was healthy and hungry. He could finally unleash his swing and see what he could do again. That season, he won his first career tournament at the VCU Shootout. His second tournament title of the year came with a 212 at the General Hackler Championship. He was again named to the Big 12 All-Tournament team.

During the 2015-16 season, he won his third career tournament title with a 205 at the NIT. He ended that season with his third Big 12 All-Tournament team honor. But despite the success, something was missing from Voke’s resume — every day, he would walk past a wall in Iowa State’s facility that listed every golfer to compete at the NCAA Championships, where Voke could see the names of his teammates.

Knowing that his name could have been up there was hard to stomach.

“Getting to the National Championships has been a goal of mine for a long time,” he said.

After missing out on his chance as a freshman, he worked to make sure that another opportunity would come.

“He’s even more driven now,” Michelle Voke said.

That drive was easy to see during his historic senior season. His 71.84 career stroke average currently ranks No. 1 in school history, and he’s on pace to break the single-season school record for scoring mark. The culmination of his season came on May 17, when Voke fired a school record 61 at the NCAA Austin Regional at the UT Golf Club in Austin, Texas.

Voke helped the Cyclones to a third-place finish there, assuring them a spot in the NCAA Championships again for the first time since 2014. As he walked off the course, he high-fived and hugged coach Tank and was greeted by his teammates.

“I think it really hit me after the round,” Tank said. “I thought about it a little bit, but I got emotional after the round — just thinking how far he’s come, as a freshman, and just how much he’s grown, as a person.”

Voke’s family followed all the action online from back in New Zealand.

“I knew it would happen because he’s really driven,” Michelle said.

After three years of working and waiting, Voke will finally tee off at the tournament this weekend. While he’s finally achieved his goal, Voke said he’s kept the longboard over the years as a reminder of everything he’s been through.

“The coaches want to burn it, but I kind of want to frame it just to remind me what I went through,” Voke said. “It was a pretty hard moment for myself and my family. But I think the longboard will stay around as just a memory.”

Austin Regional: Iowa State goes low behind Nick Voke’s 61, Oklahoma State wins

By Brently Romine, Golf Week

Iowa State, which was ninth at the Big 12 Championship, was led by Nick Voke, who fired a 10-under 61 in the final round to capture medalist honors at 14 under, five shots ahead of Texas’ Doug Ghim.

Voke’s final round included an eagle, eight birdies and no bogeys. The previous course competitive record was 65.

“I thought a couple under would give me a chance, but as I went on with the round, the birdies kept on dropping,” Voke said. “… These days are few and far between. I knew my game was trending and this could be coming. To come up with a round like this in the regional is something pretty special.”

Said Iowa State head coach Andrew Tank: “Today he was on fire. It was cool for him to do it on the big stage. This is really special for him because he missed out on playing with us in 2014 at nationals and he can experience it now.”

Three other Cyclones shot 68 or better. Iowa State had to throw out a 72.

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The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a non-profit association which regulates athletes of 1,281 institutions, conferences, organizations, and individuals. It also organizes the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and helps more than 450,000 college student-athletes who compete annually in college sports. The organization is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. In 2014, the NCAA generated almost a billion dollars in revenue. 80 to 90% of this revenue was due to the Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. This revenue is then distributed back into various organizations and institutions across the United States.

Inter-collegiate sports began in the US in 1852 when crews from Harvard University and Yale University met in a challenge race in the sport of rowing. As rowing remained the preeminent sport in the country into the late-1800s, many of the initial debates about collegiate athletic eligibility and purpose were settled through organizations like the Rowing Association of American Colleges and the Intercollegiate Rowing Association. As other sports emerged, notably football and basketball, many of these same concepts and standards were adopted. Football, in particular, began to emerge as a marquee sport, but the rules of the game itself were in constant flux and often had to be adapted for each contest.

The NCAA dates its formation to two White House conferences convened by President Theodore Roosevelt to “encourage reforms” to college football practices in the early 20th century, which had resulted in repeated injuries and deaths and “prompted many college and universities to discontinue the sport.”  Following those White House meetings, Chancellor Henry MacCracken of New York University organized a meeting of 13 colleges and universities to initiate changes in football playing rules; at a follow-on meeting on December 28, 1905 in New York, 62 higher-education institutions became charter members of the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (IAAUS).  The IAAUS was officially established on March 31, 1906, and took its present name, the NCAA, in 1910.

Over the last two decades recruiting international athletes has become a growing trend among NCAA institutions. For example, most German athletes outside of Germany are based at US universities. For many European athletes, the American universities are the only option to pursue an academic and athletic career at the same time. Many of these students come to the US with high academic expectations and aspirations.


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Big 12 Championships – Kansas, USA

The Iowa State men’s golf team played in the Big 12 Championship in late April.  The tournament was held on the Prairie Dunes Country Club in Kansas.

This was the fourth and final Big 12 Championship for Nick – he is in his Senior year at Iowa State and will graduate in May.  The team have had a stellar season – they won three tournaments and were runner up twice cementing a number 46 national ranking by Golfweek.  The three victories is the most by a Cyclones squad since the 1996 – 97 season.

Unfortunately the cold temperatures and high winds at Prairie Dunes did not favour the Cyclones and they finished 9th out of the 10 teams.  Nick played quite well tying for 13th – he narrowly missed his fourth straight top 10 performance at the Big 12 Championships by a stroke.  Nick had rounds of 76, 71, 75 and 74 for a total of 296.  The winner was from Kansas and had a four round total of 287.

Texas won the tournament by a stroke from Oklahoma.

In Nick’s own words……..

I struck the ball beautifully in the first two rounds – I felt like I had my driver on a string and my ball flight was strong and in control.  Unfortunately the ball striking wasn’t quite so good in the next two rounds.  However, I didn’t have any wasted or any really wayward shots off the tee.  The conditions were tough and I was very pleased that I only had one double bogey all week when there were plenty to be had out there.

I had to get creative out there because the conditions called for shots that weren’t basic and straight forward – it was into the wind and up and over areas with a lot of slope.

My putting was the poorest part of my game this week – there were a lot of double breaking putts within 10 feet which is not something I have put a lot of time into.

Practice round

Prairie Dunes Country Club

Emerson Carey, founder of Carey Salt Company, was an avid golfer and had traveled the world with his family, playing top ranked courses in the early 1900s including Scotland in the 1920s. Carey and his four sons became a staple in the Hutchinson golf community, contributing to the development of several courses in the area. In 1935 the Carey family commissioned architectural genius Perry Maxwell (Southern Hills, Colonial Country Club, redesign of Pine Valley and Augusta National) to design a masterpiece. Thus, the idea of Prairie Dunes was born.

Maxwell’s response to the 480 acre canvas for his masterpiece, “There are 118 holes here, and all I have to do is eliminate 100”.

Thus, construction began on Prairie Dunes. The course was molded from the Kansas land using 18 horses and mules, Fresno scrapers and wheelbarrows. The only mechanized equipment used were Model T and Model A Fords used to bring the workers to the site. Greens and fairways came to life by teams dragging plows and scoops, while roots of native grass and weeds were removed by hand-one wheelbarrowful at a time.

Prairie Dunes opened the first nine holes on September 13, 1937. Twenty years later, in 1957, The Dunes opened the second nine holes, designed by Perry Maxwell’s son, Press.

The Big 12 Conference

The Big 12 Conference is a ten-school collegiate athletic conference headquartered in Irving, Texas. It is a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) Division I for all sports; its football teams compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS; formerly Division I-A), the higher of two levels of NCAA Division I football competition. Its ten members, located in Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia, include eight public and two private Christian schools. The Big 12 includes 23 sports – 10 in which men compete in and 13 in which women compete in.

The Big 12 was formerly composed of 12 schools, hence its name: it was formed in 1996 when four schools from the collapsing Southwest Conference (Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor) joined with the pre-existing Big Eight Conference. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were grouped with the four newcomers in the “Big 12 South”, while the remaining 6 teams of the Big 8 (Kansas, Kansas State, Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa State) formed the “Big 12 North”.

The conference’s current 10-campus makeup resulted from the 2010 to 2013 Big 12 Conference realignment, in which Nebraska joined the Big Ten Conference, Colorado joined the Pac-12, and Missouri and Texas A&M joined the Southeastern Conference. Texas Christian University and West Virginia joined from the Mountain West and Big East Conferences respectively to offset two of the departing schools, bringing the conference to its current strength.

The current members of the Big 12 are University of Texas, University of Oklahoma, Baylor University, University of Kansas, West Virginia University, Oklahoma State University,, Texas Christian University, Kansas State University, Texas Tech University and Iowa State University.

The Big 12 Conference, like others involved in the realignment, has kept its name primarily for marketing purposes; the conference has high name recognition and remains one of the Power Five conferences which are considered the primary contenders to produce a College Football Playoff champion team in any given year. Attempts to rename the Big 12 to reflect its current strength would lead to confusion with the current Big Ten Conference (which currently has 14 teams). The Big 12 is also considered one of the Premier Seven Conferences in basketball.

Like the Southwest Conference, the Big 12 footprint has a small population base. It has the smallest population base by far of the contract conferences. Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, West Virginia and Iowa have a combined population of 37.8 million.

Conference revenue comes mostly from television contracts, bowl games, the NCAA, merchandise, licensing and conference-hosted sporting events. The revenue for the Big 12 conference in 2015 was USD252 million.

In 2015 Iowa State University earnt USD66 million in revenue which was in line with the expenses for the same year. The average spend per student for the 2015 year was USD129,000.

Revenue includes ticket sales, contributions and donations, rights/licensing, student fees, school funds and all other sources including TV income, camp income, food and novelties. Total expenses includes coaching/staff, scholarships, buildings/ground, maintenance, utilities and rental fees and all other costs including recruiting, team travel, equipment and uniforms, conference dues and insurance costs. 

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Hawkeye Invitational – Iowa, USA

The Iowa State Cyclones were closer to home when they contested the Hawkeye Invitational on the 15th and 16th April at Finkbine Golf Course in Iowa.

Nick made history Sunday afternoon by earning medalist honors at the Hawkeye Invitational with a 54 hole total of 207 – he had rounds of 68, 67 and 72.  Nick’s victory was the fourth of his career, tying All-American Scott Fernandez (2012-15) for the most individual tournament titles by a Cyclone.  Nick now has 17 career top 10 finishes, the third most in school history.

The Iowa State Cyclones finished fourth in the team race at 868.  Texas Tech who are ranked 11th in the USA came out on top with a combined team score of 855.

In Nick’s own words…..

Winning is hard. It has been a while in between victories for me – the ‘in-between period’ has given me a better appreciation for how difficult it is to actually win. So to hit quality shot after quality shot and come away with a trophy feels really good!

This week I realised that I dont need to play perfect to put myself in contention to win.  Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of brilliant shots out there, but there was also a lot of mediocre ones as well.  I put myself in a postion to win with a combination of execution, a sharp short game, staying patient and handling adversity.

I struck the ball pretty well all week.  I hit 7 greens in regulation inside 15 feet which gave a me plenty of birdie opportunites. 

I also putted much better from 5 to 15 feet this week holing 57% of my putts between 5 and 9 feet and 42% between 9 and 15 feet.  I averaged 8 putts from this distance and holed half of them per round.  I think this was the main reason I won – I hit the ball close often and then rolled the rock when I needed to get up and down. 

Finkbine Golf Course

The golf course is named after W.O. Finkbine who donated the land to the University of Iowa. It is a scenic golf course and from the championship tee stretches over 7,200 yards of rolling Iowa terrain. The course has played host to many NCAA tournaments over the years – it plays to a par 72 with a USGA rating of 74.6 and a slope rating of 134. 

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