Sept. 23, 2013
• WATCH NEWS CONFERENCE
MADISON, Wis. -- Badger head men's golf coach Michael Burcin previews the upcoming Badger Men's Golf Invitational held Sept. 29-Oct. 1 at University Ridge Golf Course. Tee times begin Sunday and Monday at 9 a.m. Teams will play the final round in a shotgun start at 9:30 a.m. CT. Parking and admission are free. Results will be posted on UWBadgers.com.
MODERATOR: The men's golf team will host the Badger Invitational on Sunday through Tuesday on the University Ridge Golf Course. It is the first time the Badgers are hosting a tournament since the Big Ten Championship was in Madison in 2005. Among the participants in the 14 team tournament are Kansas, Marquette, and South Carolina.
Head coach Michael Burcin is here. We'll have some opening comments and then take questions.
COACH BURCIN: We're excited to host this weekend. We just finished our first trip yesterday, got home. It was okay, mediocre. We had two kids play well, two kids that transferred in, Zach Balit and John Gullberg, from South Carolina and Illinois respectively. So individually, I think we had two kids in the top 16, which is the second time that's happened since I've been here. So that's good.
(We are) excited about this week. Everyone is going to get to play, either from a team standpoint or individually. It will be fun to show off the Ridge and all that is going on out there. We're excited. Can't wait.
Q. What do the players think of finally having a home event after all these years?
COACH BURCIN: Yeah, they're excited. None of the guys that were here have ever played in a home event here. I think we're all excited to see how the golf course plays with the changes, new greens. It's a lot longer than it was last time anything was hosted here.
It will be really interesting. Some people have asked, What do you think a winning score is going to be? What do you think kids are going to shoot? I don't know. I kind of got some guesses in mind.
The weather's going to be good. There won't be any snow on the ground. So that will be good. So, yeah, they're excited. I think it will be just fun. It's a busy time of year. We will still be in a hotel, but we'll be in our own town this week, and that will be good.
Q. What goes into hosting an event, and how come it's been eight years since Wisconsin has hosted?
COACH BURCIN: The majority of the work falls on not me, so I have to thank the people in operations, people in Sports Information, Tam (Flarup in communications) and Karen (Lux in events), those kind of folks.
I do the initial inviting and get people interested, and those folks kind of take it from there.
Why hasn't there been here? I have no idea. I'm just starting my third year. So it was a slam dunk when I was hired. I thought this is something we've got to do, something that Coach Alvarez wanted to do. It helps us see where we are in the program, trying to get things going in the right direction, to host. To have teams come here is an advantage for us.
It's a no brainer to host, especially when we've got one of the best golf courses in the country.
Q. What did that first tournament and the qualifying rounds leading up to it tell you about the team this year?
COACH BURCIN: It is a different atmosphere and the guys on the team have come to me and said this on their own. It's a completely different environment. We've got our first class of our own recruits here. We've got some transfers. It's great. The environment's awesome.
This week was mediocre at best, but guys are having a lot of fun. I think there's a motivation that we've been looking for that's here now. The competitive level has been raised. It's much higher than it was. It's much harder to get onto that travel roster.
(It's) completely different in a good way. So Coach Ziegler and I are very excited. (The) freshmen are doing a great job just by being who they are. Motivated kids who work really hard that have really high goals.
I'm so fired up for this year, really excited.
Q. Is it typical for universities to go a long time without hosting?
COACH BURCIN: Yeah, not really, not that many schools host. Where I came from, South Carolina, I was there seven years, and we never hosted. It's fairly typical actually. You've got to have a really good golf course because these kids are so good. The golf course has to be willing to host. That's a big hurdle.
And there are so many events that are run by corporate entities that a lot of schools don't really see the need to host because there's so many good events to go play in. It's actually very, very common. It happens all the time.
Q. Not only the changes in the Ridge, but the new facility out there for the team, how has that kind of helped give your team a sense of University Ridge really being home?
COACH BURCIN: It's fantastic. It's nice to have a place to meet and to congregate and to practice and to go home to and to leave your stuff. It's been terrific from a recruiting standpoint. Certainly can't talk about a whole lot of that, but I'll say it's going extremely well.
So it's been huge. With the golf course and the building and the short game area, we're probably top four, three in the country in facilities. There really isn't anybody better. There's a couple of schools that are probably on par with us. It's been unbelievable.
So hopefully, with the recruiting efforts, we'll see those rewards in the years to come, but it's a game changer, big time game changer.
Q. I know, when the greens were unveiled for the high school state tournament last spring, some mixed reviews, but it was early yet. How do they come through the summer, and how are they putting now compared to May and June?
COACH BURCIN: I haven't been out there for about a week. I'm glad we got some rain because now we'll have some rough, which will be good. We're going to try to get the rough up to about three inches.
Jerry, the superintendent out there, does a great job. He hasn't had the best luck with weather. It was cold and wet in early spring. June, there was a ton of rain, which is not good. Since mid July, it's been hot and dry, and that's not good.
I know they're really happy with coverage. There's plenty of grass. They just haven't been able to cut them down and get them fast and firm like they like to. They are going to be faster and firmer this week. He's doing some things to get them going.
I think overall, as far as just grass on the ground, he's thrilled. It came out like they wanted it to. They just were dealt a tough weather card. Cold and rainy and now it's hot. So it's just tough. Tough for those guys.
Q. You graduated four seniors last year. Who's stepping into that leadership role?
COACH BURCIN: To be honest with you, the freshmen. I've told all those guys when they came in, I said, Leadership doesn't really have an age requirement. So those guys have really stepped up.
Zach (Balit) and John (Gullberg) have done a terrific job too. Those guys are guys that transferred in from programs at South Carolina and Illinois, big time programs. So those guys have been great and they did a great job last year.
I'd say the freshmen and those two, just by how they go about their business. They work hard. Their work ethic is consistent, which is really important. That's the one thing I was really looking for.
And they're going to struggle. We had a freshman in the lineup this week, and he did not play well. That's okay. He's a freshman. But he was in my office at 9:30 this morning wanting to know what he needs to do to get started to get better today. You don't see that very often. That was good.
Q. What kind of transition is there for a freshman coming in?
COACH BURCIN: It's interesting. I was walking with Ben (Skogen) on the back nine this weekend, and he turned to me in the middle of the round, and he said, Coach, this is really hard.
I said, I know. Golf courses are longer. Greens are faster. The rough's longer. The rough was up to our knees. It's much different. It's completely different. It's like a basketball player coming in, and they make the court 40 feet longer and the basket gets shrunk. It's a different game. It's not even close.
So I was more concerned about his attitude and how he was going to react to things, and he did great. I was not as concerned about how he played because I knew there were going to be some bumps. And he's moved on from that already as of two hours ago. So they're doing great.