Big 12 Campus Correspondent
With the collar of his white polo tucked neatly under his gray sweater, the clean-shaven Nate McCoy accords well with a freshly trimmed golf course on a crisp morning.
The Iowa State golfer grew up on the fairways of courses in Iowa, spending entire days at the public course near his childhood home and caddying for his father, Mike McCoy, a six-time Iowa Amateur Player of the Year recipient. What began as a way for Mike to share the many joys of the game with his son, has transformed into one of the best Cyclone golf careers in school history.
At the Rees Jones Invitational in early October, McCoy captured his second career tournament title by an incredible nine shots. He scored a 210 (68-70-72), which tied for the 13th-best 54-hole score in Iowa State history. McCoy currently ranks 84th in the country by Golfweek.
For McCoy, golf and life go hand-in-hand. The lone senior has led a young team in his final campaign and has demonstrated consistency throughout his Iowa State career. The methodical wedge player sticks to his game plan and does not waiver from it.
McCoy has recorded 12 top-10 finishes in his career, six of which came in his senior season. In his four years as a Cyclone, the 21-year-old has missed only two tournaments and is on pace to rank second all-time on Iowa State's single-season chart with a stroke average of 71.77.
"He has a great work ethic and I've been really impressed with him this year as a senior," Iowa State head coach Andrew Tank said. "The players respect him, look up to him and he's not the kind of in-your-face leader because he has a more laid back demeanor. The guys definitely look to him for guidance about college golf and college in general."
Patience is a vital element in any successful day on the course. The calm, collected McCoy manages his emotions well, a trait many golfers struggle with after four or five hours under the sun or in the rain.
"It's an emotional game and patience is big, but if you do everything the same and in a certain route to get a rhythm going it's going to help you," McCoy said.
Poised posture and focus correspond with his ability to squarely strike the ball and play a straight shot into the fairway. It's not often McCoy finds himself in trouble on the course.
In a way, Mike McCoy said, Nate's passion and consistency in the game pushed him [Mike] to continue playing competitively more often. The two were able to push each other, playing alongside in many tournaments the past four years.
"It's been wonderful for me the last four years to be able to travel around the country and play in the same tournaments and compete with Nate," the elder McCoy said. "And when the round was over I could go out and watch him finish up and vice versa. I can't describe how marvelous it's been."
Each round on the golf course presents new challenges with different pin placement, wind conditions and green speeds, the game McCoy has played since a toddler doesn't change. No matter the course, Nate prepares the same way each week so that his plan of attack is ready before he begins playing.
"I have been smarter about how I look at the course and how I study it," McCoy said. "I want to learn the course and my game should be ready when I get there so all I have to do is focus on playing."
At the Wyoming Desert Shootout February 25-26, McCoy shot a 69 in the final round for the 11th sub-70 round of his career. Heading into his senior season, McCoy won all four tournaments he played in Iowa, including the Dogwood Invitational in which he finished 22-under par.
As McCoy looks back on his Cardinal and Gold career, he talks of Dogwood as a highlight, but cherishes the relationships more than anything.
"The friendships I have made, the relationships I have built created a really big family," McCoy said. "I think that's something I will miss five years from now, even studying at the Hixson-Lied Student Success Center with everyone and having that support system."
As for the remainder of his collegiate career, McCoy has the goal of winning one more tournament and hopes to fair well at the Big 12 Championships April 27-29 in Trinity, Texas. Weather has been a factor at the conference tournament in years past, but McCoy thinks the course will be a good fit this year after playing in Trinity his sophomore season.
McCoy and the Cyclones are coming off a second-place finish at the Missouri Tiger Intercollegiate meet Tuesday and head to Iowa City Saturday for the Taylor-Made Hawkeye Invitational. McCoy shot rounds of 69-71-71 and carded 16 birdies in the tournament.
The ball doesn't stop rolling for McCoy after college, but instead the pace quickens. The three-time letterwinner plans to turn pro immediately following graduation and is set to marry in June. He will then attempt to qualify for the Canadian Tour as well as the Dakotas Tour.
"Golf is such a tough game in a sense that it can be very different from day to day, but I think Nate's going to be a successful professional," Tank said. "He has all the tools and a lot of great experiences. I know he's going to work hard at it and do the right things to improve."
With his finely-pressed khakis, sleek glasses and humble attitude Nate McCoy's life on the course has transcended into life away from the green.