Locals ready to shine at Pac-12 men’s golf championship

Brian Howell /
Colorado’s Wilson Belk hits a tee shot on Thursday at Boulder Country Club.

Playing on the home course is a sense of pride for every member of the Colorado men’s golf team.

It means just a little bit more to those who are from the Centennial State, however.

Beginning Friday, the Buffaloes will host the Pac-12 Championship at Boulder Country Club, marking the first time since 1972 that CU has hosted a conference tournament. Three of the six players in CU’s lineup grew up in Colorado.

“It’s great,” said senior Ethan Freeman, who was born in Denver and went to Kent Denver High School before coming to CU. “It’s nice to have a bunch of the local guys be on the main state college here and especially that we’re playing so well and this is such a prestigious event that’s in Colorado. It’s really great to have that all here.”

Freeman, Wilson Belk (Cheyenne Mountain High School) and Spencer Painton (Regis High School) all grew up in Colorado and will be in the CU lineup this weekend.

“Our team has always had a lot of Colorado guys on it, and I think that’s a really cool part of hosting this year and having Spencer and Ethan and Wilson competing this week,” Buffs head coach Roy Edwards said.

Compared to Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington — home states to most of the Pac-12 — Colorado is not known as a golf state, but the local players know better.

“There’s some more pride on the line, showing that we might not be the biggest golf state in the country, but we still have some talent, we still have some guys who can compete with the best,” Painton said.

The Buffs are also eager to show off what they believe is an excellent course at Boulder Country Club — a course that Edwards said is in great condition.

“I know coach and (BCC golf director Kevin Bolles) are really excited about showing off what we play in and how you can still build a really great program in this kind of climate,” Freeman said. “We’re all really excited about that.”

This climate sometimes features interesting weather at this time of year, and there is rain and snow in the forecast for the weekend. Most teams may not be used to that, but for the Buffs, and especially those who grew up in Colorado, it’s nothing new.

“We definitely get a lot of experience playing in some bad, crappy weather throughout the spring and late fall, so if it gives anyone an advantage, it’s us,” Belk said.

Regardless of the weather, the Buffs are pleased to be on their home course and, for some, in their home state.

“It’s definitely fun to not have to travel and stay home, have the local support,” Belk said. “It’s a really nice thing to have this week.”

Ready to adjust

With inclement weather in the forecast, it’s possible that the tournament could be impacted. Teams are scheduled for 36 holes on Friday, 18 on Saturday and 18 on Sunday.

As of Thursday afternoon, everything still on schedule, but Edwards said the Pac-12 is taking a wait-and-see approach before making a call on any schedule adjustments.

Edwards added that at least 36 holes need to be completed in order for the Pac-12 to award a champion and earn an automatic qualifying spot for the NCAA regionals.

“That’s the magic number, and you obviously want to get all 72 holes in if you can,” he said.


On Wednesday, the CU women’s golf team finished second in the Pac-12 championship in Tucson, Ariz. It was the best conference finish in program history, and serves as a bit of motivation for the men’s team.

“Them finishing second is such an incredible accomplishment,” Edwards said. “It certainly is going to motivate our guys. There’s competitiveness there that you want to have some bragging rights. It’s an amazing accomplishment and cannot be understated how cool that is they finished second.”


In addition to Belk, Freeman and Painton, the Buffs will have Victor Bjorlow, Yannik Paul and John Souza in their lineup. … Stanford comes in as the three-time defending champion. … Since joining the Pac-12 in 2011-12, CU’s best finish in this tournament was fourth place in 2014.

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