Burcin - Sam Anderson

UW golf coach Michael Burcin, left, confers with the Badgers’ Sam Anderson during the 2018 Marquette Invitational at Erin Hills.

Like many of us, Michael Burcin had plenty of time to reflect at home over the past 14 months. For the first time in years – really, the first time ever – he got to spend a lot of quality time with his wife, Michelle, and their 10-year-old daughter, Josie, while COVID-19 raged.

His eyes were opened to what he’d been missing. And he didn’t want to miss any more.

Burcin, who just completed his 10th season as the University of Wisconsin men’s golf coach, announced Wednesday that he is resigning effective the end of the month.

He said he knew in January that he’d be stepping down, and that the Badgers’ second consecutive last-place finish in the Big Ten Championship on Sunday had nothing to do with his decision.

“It’s 100 percent family considerations,” Burcin told Wisconsin.Golf. “I love my job. I love the university. My administration has been awesome. They were caught off-guard when I met with my boss (Marija Pientka, senior associate athletic director) the other day.

“Coaching is really selfish and my wife has sacrificed a lot, really ever since we got married, and my daughter, as well. I just feel like it’s my time to kind of be there for them.”

Burcin, 45, was hired to succeed Jim Schuman as the Badgers’ head coach in May 2011. Prior to that, he spent seven years as an assistant coach at South Carolina and in 2010 was named the assistant coach of the year by the Golf Coaches Association of America.

Under Burcin, the Badgers recorded four of the five best single-season scoring averages in school history, including a program-best 292.96 mark in 2018-’19. Individually, five of the top 10 career scoring averages in school history are held by athletes who played under Burcin.

Team highlights included victories at the 2015 NYX Hoosier Invitational, the 2018 Pinetree Intercollegiate and the 2019 Musketeer Classic. However, after the Badgers finished seventh at the 2017 Big Ten Championship, they slipped to 10th in 2018 and to 14th in 2019 and 2021 (the tournament was not played in 2020 because of COVID).

“They just didn’t play well,” Burcin said of the team’s performance last week at Crooked Stick in Carmel, Ind. “The golf course was really hard. It was a very, very demanding test. The course was set up in a way it had never been set up before. Even the scores from the top teams were higher than what you normally see. If you weren’t on your game, there weren’t really holes to get shots back.

“We knew what was on the line. We had to finish in the top half and we would have probably gone to the NCAAs (as an at-large selection). They just didn’t play well. But as I told them, it’s one week and I don’t want that to overshadow what they did in the three months prior.”

Led by senior Sam Anderson, UW finished fourth in the Big Ten Match Play in February, sixth in the Hootie Intercollegiate in March and fourth in the Hawkeye Invitational in April.

Anderson, who plans to turn professional later this month, said the players were stunned to learn that Burcin was stepping down.

“Obviously, it’s very hard for us to hear,” he said. “Having played for him for four years, you never really expect to hear something like this. I live with (teammates) Robbie (Morway) as well as Griffin (Barela) and Tom (Calbi) and honestly, we were shocked. We had no idea.

“Aside from what he’s done for this program, he has had an impact on all of our lives on and off the golf course. I know all of us really enjoyed him as a coach and as a person. It’s sad to hear he’s stepping away from it but at the same time he’s got a young daughter and he spent so much time with his daughter and his wife during COVID, that he really realized and valued that time together.

“He has to do what’s best for himself and his family. That’s ultimately what he’s doing.”

The Badgers’ assistant golf coach, Chris Gilbert, left the program after being furloughed last year. Though former UW player Garrett Jones serves as a volunteer assistant, Burcin was left to do almost everything, on top of spending 130 days on the road competing and recruiting in addition to running summer camps.

“I would say there was a little bit of a perfect storm of events,” Burcin said. “I was home for a long period of time, more than I’ve ever been. I’ve spent more time with my wife and my daughter than I ever have in my life and I realized, wow, I miss a lot. Chris left because of being on furlough. So those were the two things that made me start thinking about, you know, I could be a better dad. And this is an opportunity to do that.”

Burcin said he has formed a company, Under Par Consulting, and will be moving to Charleston, S.C. In his new position, he will mentor high school golfers hoping to earn college scholarships and college players hoping to play professionally.

“It’s going to be a small company,” he said. “We’re not going to have a million clients.”

Though the Badgers did not perform well in the Big Ten, the future is bright. Four of the top six players return next year – the team loses only Anderson, Calbi and Nick Robinson – and incoming freshmen Jacob Beckman of Middleton and Graham Moody of Vancouver, Wash., should provide depth.

“Maybe I’m an idiot for getting out,” Burcin said with a laugh. “But in all serious, they’re going to have a nice team.”

He said he would help with the search for the next coach, if asked.

“I’m going to be around,” he said. “If it’s something I’m asked to help with, I want nothing but the best for the program and the guys. If they want my input, sure, absolutely. I’m going to be around for a month. There’s plenty of guys all over the country. I’ve already gotten a bunch of calls. It’s a highly sought-after job. They’ll have somebody in here who is really strong.”

Will Burcin miss coaching? You needn’t ask.

“Coaching is addictive, and it’s very selfish,” he said. “What I keep telling people is, I know I’m going to miss it. I miss it already, even though I’m here in the office doing stuff. But I don’t think I’m going to regret it. And I think those are two different things.”

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