Members of the UW-Eau Claire men’s and women’s golf teams were out hitting golf balls in the sun a couple weeks ago in preparation for their upcoming spring season.
But due to poor local weather, they took their spring break as an opportunity to play somewhere a little warmer.
The men’s team traveled to South Carolina and women’s team went to Phoenix, Ariz. to do some training of their own over spring break. Junior golfer Kate Engler said the team was able to practice and play every day over break.
“We were a little rusty at first, but we had a lot fun on the course and I think everyone is excited to start playing again,” Engler said.
Before the team’s spring break trip, Engler said the team stayed on top of their game by hitting golf balls indoors and conditioned their bodies through running and weight training.
Four returning Blugolds have received conference honors. Engler was named 2013 WIAC Player of the Year and made the All-WIAC first team the same year. The team took first place out of seven teams at the WIAC Championships last fall.
Engler said it is important the team’s success in the fall doesn’t go to their heads. The way to continue winning, she said, is to keep playing their game and not get overwhelmed.
“Whenever I play I don’t even think of the fact I am playing in a tournament,” Engler said. “I just pretend I’m playing with some random person like it’s just a regular round. It helps take a lot of pressure off of me.”
Like the women’s team, the men’s golf team experienced their own successes this past fall. The team notched top three finishes in their final three tournaments, including a first place finish at the Frank Wrigglesworth Blugold invite.
Head coach Mike Greer said once the fall season concluded, he viewed the offseason as a time where his golfers could gain a competitive advantage on other teams.
“We know we need to build on what we did in the fall and come out with the same type of attitude and preparation,” Greer said.
Along with having the same mindset, he said the spring roster will be the same also, meaning the expectations for his team won’t change.
Preparing for the spring season has not been easy for the Blugolds. The low temperatures and snow have kept the Blugolds inside, Greer said.
Once the season starts, the Blugolds will face teams who could have had a month or more of outdoor practice than Eau Claire.
“We need to come in with the right attitude, which is just worrying about the things we can control,” Greer said. “We need to be as prepared as we can be.”
But the Blugolds aren’t going to let their lack of outdoor practice be an excuse. Senior Ben Brooks said the team has a few tournaments around Eau Claire against teams in similar practicing situations.
“There is really no excuse for us not to be prepared,” Brooks said. “So we’re looking to win tournaments.”
The men’s team will compete in its first tournament at the UW-Stout Invitational at the Chippewa Valley Golf Club April 17. Greer said the event is a great way to start spring since every golfer will have a chance to play.
“It is going to give everyone an opportunity to work hard and prepare for that first event,” Greer said.
The women will travel to the Illinois Wesleyan Spring Fling at the Ironwood Golf Course April 12.