May 29, 2012
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Last summer, the University of Iowa women's basketball team spent an amazing 12 days touring Paris, Prague, Vienna and Bratislava as a part of its foreign tour, which the team is allowed to take every four years by the NCAA. That trip would not have been possible without the annual Iowa Women's Basketball Golf Extravaganza.
The Hawkeye women's basketball team hosts an 18-hole, four-person best-shot tournament every summer at the UI's Finkbine Golf Course in Iowa City. Golfers are treated to a fun afternoon of golf, including two meals, hole and door prizes and awards for low scores. Proceeds from the tournament help pay for the foreign trip.
Women's basketball director of operations Abby Emmert heads up the tournament committee and hopes fans understand how important the foreign trip is to the program.
"Those foreign trips are really important for a number of reasons," Emmert said. "It's essential in recruiting, because nearly every school takes a trip and recruits want to do that. We also feel it's a huge benefit for our team. They get to experience different cultures, spend 10 days together and you get 10 practices over the summer when you take that trip."
Taking a travel party of nearly 30 people on a 12-day trip overseas can get pretty pricy. Hawkeye fans show their support by buying a foursome in the tournament, giving extra money in sponsorships or bidding on some of the silent or live auction items at the event.
"We always have a lot of items like local gift certificates or Nike gear to give away for closest to the pin or longest putt prizes," Emmert said. "We also do a live auction, where we have a few exciting items."
Some of the highlights at this year's auction include an autographed photo of Don Nelson, paired with a basketball signed by UI men's basketball head coach Fran McCaffery and UI women's basketball head coach Lisa Bluder and clubhouse passes to the John Deere Classic PGA TOUR event in the Quad Cities.
One of the hottest items on the live auction every year is a chance to watch an Iowa football game in the women's basketball press box suite, tickets to a women's basketball game the following day and a hotel room at the Sheraton in downtown Iowa City.
"We all know trying to find a hotel room on a football weekend is pretty tough," Emmert said. "That always seems to be the big item during the auction."
Iowa's game-worn pink uniforms will also be up on the live auction this year. Emmert said that each year, the graduating seniors' pink jerseys will be available for bid.
"That gives our seniors a chance to come back and support the program by buying their uniform," Emmert said. "Fans can also have a limited edition collectable as well."
Emmert is assisted by a group of people that help make the Golf Extravaganza a success. The entire women's basketball staff helps put on the event, along with many other women's basketball supporters.
"Patrick White volunteers a lot of time with our program and helps out a lot with the golf outing," Emmert said. "We also have a lot of great supporters of the program. They do everything from helping get foursomes signed up to collecting items for our golfers."
White created the idea of adding a celebrity golfer component to the outing last year, which was a huge hit. Golfers now have a chance to participate in an online bidding contest in order to have a UI celebrity join their group for 18 holes of golf.
This year's list of celebrities include former men's basketball coach Dr. Tom Davis, UI director of athletics Gary Barta, women's golf head coach Megan Menzel, Hawkeye Radio Network analyst Shelly Till and former All-American tight end Marv Cook.
"The celebrity aspect was a great addition last year," Emmert said. "It gives some lucky groups the chance to spend a few hours with some big Hawkeye names and every golfer gets the chance to meet them before or after the event."
Registration and sponsorship forms, along with more information on the Golf Extravaganza, can be found HERE.