September 2016

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23 M idwest winters can be cold and unforgiving, but Sean McCarty used the time between November, 1991, and May, 1992, to reinvent himself as an elite golfer. Making the 15-mile trip with McCarty to the University of Iowa from his hometown in West Branch, Iowa, was a pedigree that included three consecutive Class 2A Iowa state medalist honors. His initiation into college golf wasn't what he expected. McCarty played eight rounds that first fall and his stroke average was nearly 80 per round. "It was tough. I struggled and I wasn't the top dog anymore," McCarty said. "I sat out a meet, which was great because I came back to my senses." One of the most accomplished golfers in Iowa high school history was suddenly too mechanical. He wasn't used to the swing changes and it affected his gameā€¦and attitude. Aer several meetings with UI head coach Lynn Blevins, McCarty returned to relying on his ability and notorious long game. During his first spring as a Hawkeye, McCarty placed fourth at the Big Ten Championships and was named All-Big Ten and Big Ten Freshman of the Year. e Hawkeyes won their first conference title in 1992 aer finishing last in 1991. "e team winning was huge," McCarty said. "What a great thing for the program, going from worst to first." McCarty is the first men's golfer inducted into the National Iowa Varsity Club Athletics Hall of Fame. ere wasn't much doubt McCarty would pursue golf. When he was three years old, his parents purchased Greenview Golf Course in West Branch and later that year, McCarty owned his first set of clubs. e golf junkie walked 36 holes a day when he was 6 and entered tournaments across the Midwest when he was 7. McCarty played 54 holes a day when he was 10 and five years later started working at the course. West Branch is also home to UI alumnus Dave Rummells, who played on the PGA Tour from 1986-94. But golf wasn't McCarty's only extra-curricular activity. An all-state running back, he helped lead West Branch to the state playoffs three straight years, winning a Class 1A title as a junior in 1989. In his career, McCarty rushed for 3,680 yards with 43 touchdowns and still holds the school record by averaging 43.3 yards per punt with a long of 67. "I always wanted to be a Hawkeye football player, but as a junior and senior in high school I was getting beat up pretty good and decided I better stick with golf," McCarty said. "I loved football and I loved to compete in about anything I could." West Branch won state golf titles in 1989, 1990, and 1991 with McCarty earning medalist honors all three years. e championships were won on Finkbine Golf Course, home of the Hawkeyes. More opportunities in football than golf poured in for McCarty as he completed high school. Once he decided to play golf in college, the next question became: northern state or southern state? "In high school they said you have to go south and play college golf," McCarty said. "It was a tough decision. I went on three recruiting trips down south and (signing with the University of Iowa) was the best decision I ever made. It was what I wanted to do -- Lynn Blevins coming in (as UI head coach) and it turned out we had a great team my freshman year. It was a great move -- growing up as a Hawkeye it was what I wanted to do." With McCarty in the lineup as a freshman in 1992, the Hawkeyes not only won their first Big Ten Conference golf championships, but they also advanced to the NCAA Central Regional in McKinney, Texas. e next fall, McCarty won his first collegiate tournament, sharing medalist honors at the Persimmon Ridge Invitational in Louisville, Kentucky.

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