A season ago, the UW-Eau Claire Blugold men’s golf team battled through much adversity, as relentless winter winds carried in too much of what should have been the spring season. Despite the unfavorable weather conditions, the Blugolds were still able to place in the top five in three different tournaments throughout the spring season. The strong play would not prove to be enough in the eyes of the National Collegiate Athletic Association or NCAA, as the team missed out on being selected for the national tournament.
With fall sports just getting underway the Blugolds have high hopes for season ahead, and a lot of returning talent to lead them to what this team believes is a team loaded with talented. Senior Ben Brooks returns for the Blugolds with the leading scoring average from last season. Brooks has also been named team captain, and his head coach Michael Greer believes that Brooks has what it takes to be a great leader this season.
“Ben is a fantastic leader on and off the course, and that is because he carries a lot of great leadership skills,” Greer said. “The younger guys look to him, and watch the ways he handles himself on the golf course.”
Brooks feels that he has played on several talented Blugold teams in his time here, and he is looking forward to leading the Blugolds this year.
“I have seen a lot talent come through this program,” Brooks said. “So I am extremely honored to be the caption of this team.”
Greer said that Brooks has been a player that the Blugolds have been able to count on the past couple of seasons. This is shown with the fact that he has a career scoring average of 76.8. Brooks said wants to drop his career scoring average even more in this upcoming season. He has worked tirelessly this summer on a part of his game that both him, and Greer believe was a weak point in their team’s game as a whole last season.
“ It is always our short game that is important for us to improve on,” Greer said. “We are going to focus on our wedge play and putting.”
Brooks echoed a similar message as his head coach, and he said the team’s short play this season will not hold them back this season
“We have missed out on a few wins the past few years due to our short game, so this summer I spent time trying to sound up my putts and shots around the greens,” Brooks said.
Greer said he sees a lot of talent in the group of men he will coach this season. The Blugolds return several golfers from last season that saw starting action. One of the young golfers that he said hopes to help his team out this season is sophomore Andy Schmidt. Schmidt had an average score of 77.9 last season, and he said can build off what was a freshman season where he was able to get his feet wet in the waters that is college golf.
“ This year I want to contribute to the team in every tournament I play in, meaning I don’t want my score to be dropped, Schmidt said. “I want to be one of the lower scores on the team.”
Greer said that Andy and the rest of the 12-man roster will fight week in and week out for starting spots as the Blugolds enjoy the luxury of having a deep team.
“From our number one player down to number 12, there is not much of a difference in talent,” Greer said. “This makes our group much more competitive, and keeps the guys hungry to play.”
The Blugolds were not afraid to share that they have national tournament aspirations. The team has the leadership on the course, and the talent to make plenty of noise in the Central Region Greer said.
The Central Region is home to some of the top golf teams in the nation, including rival in the UW-Stout. The region also includes ranked Minnesota schools, (8) University of St.Thomas, and (3) University of St.Johns. Brooks said the Blugolds are prepared to make the steps necessary to become national contenders.
“We need to be confident in ourselves, and believe in our short game,” he said. “Because we are capable of winning a national championship.”