While most golf fans may be watching the Masters this weekend, the Wisconsin men’s golf team has other plans.
The Badgers get back to Big Ten play this weekend when they travel to Ohio State for the Kepler Invitational.
After placing 16th in the Florida Atlantic University Spring Break Invitational in Florida, the Badgers are hoping that tournament will have prepared them for the challenges of conference action.
Although it might not be Augusta National, a strong finish will not come easy at the Scarlet Course in Columbus, one known to be extremely challenging.
“I’ve played Ohio State’s course a number of times, and it’s really a difficult golf course,” senior Jordan Elsen said. “There aren’t really a whole lot of low scorers.”
The Badgers are a very young team stacked with freshmen — making up four of their five tournament players — and the difficulty of this course could make it even harder for them. This weekend, the golf team will be counting on the guidance and knowledge from seniors such as Elsen who know the course well.
Even though it might be difficult for the freshmen to post a low score at the tournament, they are keeping realistic expectations for the match. On a golf course like Ohio State’s, it seems a cautious and patient approach to the course offers the Badgers their best chance at success.
“You just play it more conservative (and) just can’t be too disappointed if you make a bogey,” freshman Anthony Aicher said. “You just got to hang in there.”
Playing such a tough course, Wisconsin is keeping things simple in its preparation for and approach to this weekend’s tournament.
The team feels they need to focus on fundamentals to finish strong in the Kepler Invitational. A course known for being long with difficult pin placements, strong execution of the basics will play a key role in the match.
“I really should practice on hitting the targets and focusing on the target and definitely working on my short game because I know I’m going to miss some greens out there,” Elsen said.
In what has been a fairly disappointing season for the Badgers men’s golf team so far, the team is hoping this weekend will be the one that gets them going. With their best performance this season being a seventh place finish back in October, it has not been the year they were hoping for.
Beyond that, the young team is also looking at this tournament as a chance to learn and gain valuable experience for the rest of the season and the future.
“Every opportunity that those guys are out there competing both as individuals and then their understanding of what their job for the team to be successful, you know, every tournament is important,” head coach Jim Schuman said.
Even though the season has not gone according to plan, the Badgers believe the hard work they put in over spring break will help them out in this weekend’s tournament against Big Ten competition.
Although they did not finish as strong as they had hoped in the FAU tournament, they still feel like it made them a better team.
“We got five days of really good practice in,” Aicher said. “We were at the course all day working on, you know, everything… so I think we’ll definitely be prepared for this tournament and prepared to do well.”
Overall, the focus of the Wisconsin men’s golf team this weekend is on fundamentally sound and consistent play, aiming for pars rather than risking it all for birdies.
With such a young team and a demanding course at the Kepler Invitational, the Badgers are looking for more than just an impressive finish — they are looking for improvement and growth as a team.
“It’s just another opportunity,” Schuman said. “They’re young guys, and although that really doesn’t excuse us from some of the mistakes, you know, we’re really just continuing to learn.”