Washington stop is latest in roller coaster ride for men’s golf

David La Vaque

A reporter made his way out of Murphy Hall last week when he spotted a familiar face in the crowd.

“Wilhelm!” the scribe bellowed to Gophers golfer Wilhelm Schauman. The slender Swede stopped, returned pleasantries and posed a question to the reporter.

“Did you know we’re going to the White House next week?” Schauman asked. The reporter did not know.

Unfortunately, the reporter represents the majority. The men’s golf team just isn’t noticed around these parts. So, Schauman and his teammates are generating their own buzz. Today Church Street, tomorrow the world.

People might have objected to the University’s plan in April to cut the sport, along with women’s golf and men’s gymnastics, but then it was quickly forgotten.

People might have given the men’s golfers an “attaboy” for winning the NCAA title in June, but then it was back to following Major League Baseball.

Thanks to the efforts of fund-raisers, the Gopher men will tee it up this season. If Schauman has his way, Minnesota will wring every drop of respectability out of the coming campaign.

“We used our postseason to prove to the president and whoever else that we deserve to stay,” Schauman said. “Now we have a whole season to once again prove we should be here.”

Where the Gophers will go this season won’t be sorted out until May. Where they’ve recently been is pretty impressive.

While the women’s golf team crumbled in the face of impending doom, the men circled the caddies. As a result, they became the third Minnesota team to stop in at President George W. Bush’s place.

Schauman woke at 4:30 a.m. last Thursday, put on his suit and headed for the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

The team’s direct flight landed in Washington at approximately 11 a.m. The team took a bus tour of the nation’s capital, a place Schauman had never been, before heading to the White House for Champions Day.

Minnesota assistant coach Andrew Tank presented President Bush with a dozen golf balls. Bush noted the Gophers NCAA performance in his address, saying, “The University of Minnesota won its first men’s golf championship this year. Incredibly enough, it was the only team in the tournament to finish below par. That’s a hard course.”

And a harsher reality.

Donors must raise $1.8 million by February for the three teams to continue competing until June 2005.

Though Schauman said word is trickling down through the golf program that everything’s going to be all right, nothing has changed the team’s resolve.

Marked for elimination by the University president then called in for a celebration by the President of the United States, the Gophers men’s golf team has endured one wild ride.


David La Vaque welcomes comments at [email protected]