There was a time when Jarred Hippen would have much rather been pitching baseballs than using his pitching wedge. That was then.
Hippen, a 2008 Rock Falls High School graduate who went on to star at the University of Iowa, has stepped away from baseball and back into competitive golf. He will compete in his first Lincoln Highway golf tournament as a member of the Rock River Golf and Pool team Saturday and Sunday.
"It's my first one, and I'm pretty excited about it," Hippen said. "I've always wanted to get in the Lincoln Highway, but I never had the time, with Iowa baseball. Now, I can finally give it a go."
Hippen was Rock Falls High School's No. 1 golfer for 3 years, and although he hasn't played competitively for over 4 years, he's optimistic about his chances.
"I've been playing quite a bit this summer," he said. "I'm expecting to do quite well. I'm going to try to win. I'm not expecting to, but I think it's possible."
Hippen did not have to play to qualify for the Rock River team. Instead, the club used the best handicap score players available. Hippen's current handicap is +.8.
Hippen, a left-hander who also golf left-handed, pitched for 4 years at Iowa, finishing up in 2012. In his career, he was 17-21 with a 4.12 ERA in 59 games, 52 of them starts.
The one-time professional baseball hopeful was ready to walk away from the game when his days at Iowa were done.
"I love baseball, but I don't know if my arm would be able to handle playing baseball again," Hippen said. "I don't know what's wrong with my arm.
"I was pretty burnt out after Iowa. I was sick of the way it was going. My arm hurt the whole year. I was ready to be done."
Hippen earned his degree 3 weeks ago. He was an interdepartmental studies major.
"I was pretty much there to play baseball," he confessed. "School just came along with it."
Hippen, who is back living with his parents in Rock Falls, will soon be going on a family vacation, then will begin applying for jobs.
His future might also include going back to school. He's considering attending Sauk Valley Community College to pursue a degree in computer programming.
Another possibility is trying to become a club golf pro.
"I would love to do that. That would be the greatest job ever," Hippen said. "I'm pretty knowledgeable about the swing. I've been helping Aaron Frank [who will be a junior at Rock Falls High School], and he's gotten probably eight to 10 strokes better."
As for where life will take him 5 years from now, Hippen said, "I would love to be on the pro [golf] tour, be a golf pro or a computer programmer. I'd be fine with any one of those three."
High school: Rock Falls (class of 2008)
Position: Left-handed starting pitcher
Ht./Wt.: 6-foot-3, 205 pounds
FYI: Led Rock Falls to runner-up finish at Class 3A state tournament in 2008. … Spent 3 years as University of Iowa’s No. 1 starter. … Second-team All-Big Ten selection in 2010 and 2011.