The fall golf season is getting underway for the Badgers at University Ridge — their home course. In their own opening invitational the Badgers will look to demonstrate improvements made following a disappointing last-place finish at the Big Ten tournament — their last competition of the 2019 spring season.
This tournament will be the first time the Badgers will compete without team anchor and leading scorer Jordan Hahn in multiple years. In order to improve upon their 10th-place finish last year, they will be forced to rely on young and developing talent to carry them to success.
The Badger Invitational will boast a strong set of teams coming from around the nation to compete. Last year, Illinois State, Kansas and Iowa State finished in the top three for lowest team scoring.
Predictably, the Badgers two leading scorers were then-senior Hahn and junior Griffin Barela.
Barela is returning for his final season as a competitor for the Badger golf squad and is currently the best candidate to lead the team in scoring this year. Look for him to make early waves in fall competition as the team prepares for its 2020 spring campaign.
Perhaps the most exciting part about having a home event this early in the golf season is that it allows for the Badgers to have multiple team members compete as individuals who might not otherwise have been able to play at another team’s invitational.
For the Badgers, this means new additions to the roster Coalter Smith, Sebastian Iqbal and Jack Blair could be on display for the first time in their collegiate careers.
Last year, true freshman Cameron Frazier had the opportunity to start as an individual for the Badgers despite playing in relatively few tournaments throughout the rest of the fall season.
Look for the Badgers to throw this newly-found talent into the crucible of collegiate competition early in order to have them better prepared for postseason play in the spring.
This is especially important after the team said goodbye to seniors Hahn and Brett Robinson, each scoring in the top three for the Badgers in this tournament last year.
The Badger Invitational should provide an early look at a team that, while losing arguably the best golfer in University of Wisconsin history, is ripe with raw talent and returning experience. Only time will tell if they will be able to capitalize on those qualities.