It all began with Bill Fennelly, who set the bar by leading the women’s basketball program to 14 NCAA Tournament appearances, including seven-straight, and two Elite Eight berths in the last 17 seasons. Christy Johnson-Lynch followed suit by resurrecting the volleyball program into one of the nation’s best with seven consecutive NCAA Tournament berths, including two Elite Eight appearances.
Many other women’s sport teams at ISU have had success, too, including the incredible job Christie Martens has done as the women’s golf coach.
Martens, now in her 10th season at Iowa State, has changed the culture of the program and made it one of the most respected in the Midwest. Under her leadership, the Cyclones have qualified for a school-record-tying four-straight NCAA Regionals and have made annual appearances in the nation’s top-25.
Since taking over the reins, nine Cyclones have earned All-Big 12 recognition a total of 12 times. ISU had zero all-conference performers in the eight years prior to her arrival.
You would never hear Martens say this, but she has achieved all of this enormous success in an outdoor spring sport despite being a northern school in a southern league. Call it like it is, but Iowa spring weather can be unpredictable to say the least.
Instead of using the weather as an excuse, Martens uses it to her advantage, instilling toughness and discipline with her golfers.
I have had the chance to observe Martens and her team in practices and tournaments throughout the years and a couple of things stand out. First off, there is truly a “Family” atmosphere within her program. She is caring and nurturing and her players absolutely adore her.
As for her practice sessions, you quickly realize what she is trying to accomplish. Many times in golf you see players on the range blast countless full shots without any purpose. You won’t see this if you happen to come out to the brand new state-of-the-art Golf Performance Center.
You know the old saying in golf, “drive for show, putt for dough?” Well, Martens lives it. She already has golfers with solid swings, and she is fully aware that tournaments are won around the greens. Martens’ regimented practices are built around constant repetition of putting, chipping and pitching drills. Her four tournament victories in the last three years back up her training methods.
If you get the chance to meet Martens, you soon realize how competitive she is. She will be the first to admit she is tired of making it to Regionals. In fact, it annoys her. She wants more, and taking the Cyclone golf team to their first-ever NCAA finals is the only item on her agenda.
I wouldn’t bet against it.