With golf courses still under snow, Blugolds forced to wait

Story by Martha Landry, Currents Editor

A fresh batch of snow fell on the greens of Eau Claire, leaving the UW-Eau Claire men’s golf team without a place to practice.

The Blugolds recently had their first tournament of the spring season on April 6.

The men went into the meet without any outdoor practice, other than hitting balls on the driving range. Junior Ben Brooks said even with an awkward start to the season they are satisfied with tying for eighth place, out of 26 teams, at the spring opener in Normal, Ill.

Head coach Mike Greer said it gave the team some confidence knowing they could perform at that level with so little practice.

“A lot of the teams that we did talk to, when we told them we still had over a foot of snow at home, they didn’t believe us hardly,” Greer said. “We can compete even without the practice that we want and need.”

Greer said the team’s goal was for fifth place but the men aren’t upset tying for eighth with Nebraska Wesleyan (Neb.) who are ranked third in the nation.

Brooks said Wesleyan is a big competition to qualify for Nationals so it was a significant event for Eau Claire.

Other than last fall and over spring break they haven’t had a chance to get outside and play together. As coach, Greer’s biggest issue was deciding which five men out of eleven would play.

“It’s been hard to get a feel for how each guy is playing,” Greer said, “And it’s made it tough to determine who is going to travel for our tournaments and represent the Blugolds at the tournaments.”

Senior Tim McCormick said the rounds played over spring break were helpful and shook “some of the rust off.”

Greer said they have some young, talented guys so balancing the older, consistent players has been difficult.

Sophomore Sean Murphy tied for 19th place with 155 strokes, with senior Tim McCormick following in 14th with 156 strokes and junior Ben Brooks following at 34th place with 158 strokes.

“Personally I feel like I played well but still gave away a few easy shots from not being sharp and it being the first round,” Murphy said.

Murphy said most of the teams have played a few tournaments already so considering their circumstances, the men are satisfied with their performance but know there is room for improvement.

Brooks said the conditions on day two of the tournament were less than ideal.

“To play decent in really poor conditions the second day was a really big confidence booster,” Brooks said.

For practice, McCormick said the team is just going to get clubs in their hands as much as they can.

Murphy isn’t worried about the weather affecting the long-term success of the team, though.

“Obviously (the weather) will hinder us a little bit at the start,” Murphy said. “But we’ve been working pretty hard so we will get right back into the swing of things once we start practicing.”

The Blugold’s next tournament isn’t until April 21 at the Gustavus Adolphus Invitational so the men are just hoping to get some outdoor practice time in before they face their next competition.

“Ultimately we are kind of waiting for the weather,” Greer said. “So the first course that opens up in our area, we will be jumping on getting out there to practice.”