Two years ago, the UW-Eau Claire men’s golf team recorded seven top three tournament finishes during the regular season en route to narrowly missing out on a national tournament bid.
An experienced group of upperclassmen and a few talented freshmen recruits helped the Blugolds notch one of their best seasons in the past decade.
Two years later, head coach Mike Greer is hoping a similar recipe that brought Eau Claire success in 2013 can produce a team reminiscent of two years past.
Led by seniors Andrew Schmidt and Drew Desormeau, along with juniors Joey Dreier and Brady Hanson, the new freshmen have plenty of varsity leadership to rely on.
“This is a group (of freshmen) that are really going to develop this year,” Greer said. “None of the four freshmen on the team would surprise me if they got into the lineup either because they are all accomplished players coming in and are ready to play.”
The incoming freshmen’s presence is already felt out on the course as Greer said several newcomers impressed him in the team’s qualifying rounds prior to the Augsburg Fall Invitational this past weekend.
At Augsburg, Eau Claire finished eighth out of 18 by scoring 599 after two days.
“From freshmen to upperclassmen and seniors, they all will be pushing each other and all contending for the spots in the varsity lineup,” Greer said. “We have a deep roster and my job as a coach is to bring the guys that are playing the best.”
Creating a competitive environment is vital for any athletic team, and Greer said he is confident every week will be a battle for his players to find a spot in the lineup.
Usually an upperclassmen with varsity experience and the amateur golfing pedigree of Dreier would make for a comfortable spot on the varsity roster.
But the two-time letter winner said he remembers his first year as a Blugold and being one of the freshmen that pushed for upperclassmen starting spots, and the competition mixed with uncertainty only made the team better.
“This is an exciting freshman class,” Dreier said. “This is not going to be a spot given to anyone on this team, instead it’s going to be that you are working hard for that spot.”
With one competition under their Nike belts, beginning Sunday and continuing into Monday the Blugolds will host the Frank Wrigglesworth Blugold Invite at Eau Claire Golf and Country Club, a tournament they only placed seventh in last year but won in 2013.
Greer said his golfers are eager to do a better job defending their home course than they did last year, they plan to use a strong finish at their home competition as a launching pad of momentum for the rest of the season.
“It’s nice that this match comes even earlier in our schedule this year,” Greer said. “It’s nice to be home, to sleep in your own bed and to wake up and go to your own golf course.”