By Garrett Aleckson —
Both the University of Wisconsin–Stout men’s and women’s golf teams are in the last portion of their spring schedule. The golf season is split between a fall schedule, which runs from September to October, and the spring schedule, which runs from late March to early May. Men and women’s coach Howie Samb says that the split schedule has its advantages and disadvantages.
“The team finished the fall season in great form; everyone was playing well, and we had a lot of momentum on our side. It would have been great to a get a week or maybe two off to prepare and head right to the National Tournament in November. On the flip side, our fall schedule was very demanding. We played every weekend through the conference tournament,” Samb said of the fall season.
“I thought the team was a little mentally and physically tired at the end of the fall season and needed the break. They all wanted that WIAC Conference Championship bad, and they spent a lot of energy accomplishing that goal,” said Samb.
In the two meets before the WIAC Championship, the women’s team also had first-place finishes. The team ended the fall season by winning the WIAC Championship. This gave them an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Championship on May 12 to 15. This is their second time reaching the Championship in four years. Rather than see that as an opportunity to relax until the Championship, coach Samb wanted to push the team.
“I could have put together a spring schedule where we could have probably won each event,” Samb said. “However, I took the exact opposite approach. I scheduled our team in the three toughest tournaments I could find. Our strength of schedule so far this spring is number two in the country. The girls have played against the defending national champion and dozens of the toughest established women’s programs around. The team has not backed down or felt intimidated at all, which is a great achievement in itself.”
The men’s team did well during their fall schedule as well. They turned in a pair of second-place finishes, as well as a fifth-place finish. They ended the fall schedule with an eighth-place finish at the Midwest Regional Invitational. So far this spring, the team has finished fourth and eighth. The men’s team has three more meets to compete in before their season ends.
With the season nearing the end, coach Samb stresses how proud he is of the team.
“I am very proud of what they’ve done and accomplished as a team. They work really hard, and I think they are having a great time. They are all creating memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.”
On a final note—with some colleges potentially looking at cutting athletics due to the state budget cuts—Samb stresses how important college athletics is to the athletes, saying:
“I know Stout and all the Wisconsin colleges are struggling over budget issues now. University of Wisconsin–River Falls even dropped women’s golf as a competitive sport. However, I know every one of our players are better individuals and better prepared to enter the ‘real world’ thanks to the opportunity college athletics provided them.”