April 23, 2012
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MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin head men's golf coach Michael Burcin talked with the media Monday about his team's appearance in the 72-hole Big Ten Men's Golf Championships April 27-29 in French Lick, Ind.
COACH BURCIN: We're looking forward to this weekend going to Pete Dye for the first time that we'll have a neutral site in the Big Ten. So we played a very difficult golf course this weekend at Purdue. Hosted NCAA Championships and so on. So it's going to be a long golf course. 7500 yards and plenty of rough. So we're looking to make some progress. It's kind of been the tone of the whole year. Hopefully we can have a strong weekend.
Q. What type of progress have you made?
COACH BURCIN: I think the biggest thing that we have tried to set in motion right away is just raising expectations. Myself and my assistant came from programs not going to NCAAs and not going to Regionals was not acceptable. That's not going to happen overnight. It's not that the kids didn't want to buy into that, but it definitely changes how you spend your time in a lot of areas.
We had to change the expectations not only on the golf course, but in the weight room as far as fitness and nutrition. We've worked these guys pretty hard and tried to get them to raise the bar for what they're shooting for and the goals that we're striving for.
So hopefully that is a tone that we've set in motion for the program. Has it been reflected in our scores all year? Probably not. We've got a couple of kids that have lowered their stroke average by a couple of shots. On paper, that's what you see, but it's a work in progress, for sure.
Q. Had some maybe friendlier spring conditions this year than in years past. How has that helped you and kind of set the tone maybe a little bit for what you guys are getting in practice wise?
COACH BURCIN: It's been great. Coming from South Carolina I keep telling everybody these winters up here aren't that bad. You guys are making a big deal about it. No, it's been great. We've been on the golf course in some form pretty much since February. So it's been fantastic. We didn't go into any event cold and not spending time on the golf course. So I think it's definitely helped. It certainly hasn't hurt.
The golf course has been open since mid-March, and our practice facility has been open since February, so it's been fantastic. Couldn't ask for a better spring weather wise.
Q. What is going to be the biggest key for your team to have success at the Big Ten tournament?
COACH BURCIN: I think it's twofold. We've got to stick to a course management plan which keeps us out of trouble. It's something that we've been drilling into the guys all year, staying away from big numbers. That doesn't usually lead to good scores. We actually did not have a double bogey or worse in our scores yesterday. Which at Purdue is pretty impressive. So that will be No. 1; staying away from those big numbers. If you get into trouble, get out of trouble, and a bogey isn't terrible.
The other big key is staying mentally strong and mentally tough. At a golf course like this, at a golf course like Purdue, when we get into Regionals and NCAAs hopefully soon, 74, 75 sometimes is a great score. So for guys to get 3, 4, 5 over par, we need them to keep the round alive and not mentally check out on us. So that's been another hurdle we've been driving home all year. I think we're making a little progress.
Q. How much do you know about this course? How much have you seen it and have the guys played it before? How much is the preparation before you get there and start competing on that specific course?
COACH BURCIN: I've never been there. I don't think any of our guys have ever been there. It's a fairly new golf course. I can't believe there are as many people in the conference that have been there. The good thing is Pete Dye is the designer, so we all have played Pete Dye golf courses and are kind of familiar with it. It's going to be severe, there's going to be a lot of rough, there are going to be a lot of hazards. We've played Purdue which is a Pete Dye, T P C sawgrass, which you see on TV. So we know what we're getting into.
We'll have a great practice round and hopefully some great preparation to get into the nuts and bolts. But we know it's going to be hard, it's going to be very hard, mentally and physically. Pete Dye has a pretty strong reputation.
Q. Does a difficult course maybe shrink the field a little bit? Make it more difficult for a team to run away? Is that an advantage for a team that's trying to establish itself in a tough conference?
COACH BURCIN: I think most coaches, and I am one, would rather be at a difficult golf course because that's what you're hoping happens. Ir wnds up just being a battle to make par. I think sometimes that's a better situation to be in than having to shoot 10 or 12 under every day.
So, yeah, if I had the choice, I'd choose a hard golf course. Does that help us in our situation, I'm not sure. I don't think we're mentally where we hope to be in the long run, so we'll see.
We saw some good things yesterday at Purdue, shooting a couple over on that golf course, so hopefully that transfers.
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