Michael Burcin knows it's as difficult to find a quality assistant coach this time of year in college golf as it is to find a tee time at a golf course in Wisconsin.
That's why he was thrilled to announce Friday that Chris Gilbert has been hired to replace Blaine Woodruff, who left last month for a job at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. Gilbert, a former Kansas University golfer, most recently spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Washington State and also competed on the Adams Pro Tour.
“I feel unbelievably fortunate to be able to hire a coach of Chris’ caliber at a time of the season when hiring someone can be a difficult task,” Burcin said in a news release. “We are lucky to have a highly committed group of players who are taking the program to the next level and Chris is coming here ready to help us take that next step. I know our players will respect his credentials and commitment to their program."
A 2013 graduate of Kansas, Gilbert was a two-time individual medalist and is the only golfer in Jayhawks history to make two separate appearances as an individual at the NCAA Regionals. He led the team in scoring average for three-consecutive seasons and was an All-Big 12 Selection. While in college he was a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) executive committee for three years and was actively involved in organizing community service events.
“Chris is excited to get back to the Midwest where he and his wife Olivia have so many family members," Burcin said. "He and his wife both attended Kansas and Chris played for Jamie Bermel, a coach I have an enormous amount of respect for, both in the way he runs his program and how his players conduct themselves. Coach Bermel had great things to say about Chris, which served as a big vote of confidence.
“It became clear from our first conversation that Chris was very familiar with Madison and Wisconsin Athletics. He continues to talk about how excited he is to be a part of our program and the high standards we set for ourselves in the classroom and on the course. He cannot wait to come and help our guys achieve their goals.”
In his first season as an assistant coach at Washington State (2016-17), Gilbert assisted with the Cougars’ eight top-10 team finishes, along with 11 individual top-10 finishes. WSU captured the Itani Quality Homes Intercollegiate championship on its home course, shooting 10-under par (842) for the three rounds. Senior Nick Mandell captured his first individual tournament title, winning the tournament as an individual after shooting 210 (-3).
Freshmen Nicklaus Chiam and Daniel Kolar showed promise in their rookie seasons, as Chiam tied for fifth at the Itani Quality Homes Intercollegiate and Kolar tied for the best WSU finish at the Pac-12 Championships, placing tied for 26th.
“I’m very thankful for the opportunity Mike has given me to join the golf program at the University of Wisconsin,” Gilbert said. “After touring the facilities and hearing Mike’s vision for the future, I am thrilled to come help the program in any way that I can and watch it continue to improve. I would also like to thank Dustin White for our time at Washington State. I am very lucky to have started my career coaching players of such high caliber, and am excited to see what the future holds for them as well.”