August 22, 2012 • Golf

Greg Budzien: Be a Caddy – Without Carrying Clubs


BudzienGreg Budzien, Boys Golf

Greg Budzien considers himself a teacher first and a golf coach second.

This attitude boils down to the fact that helping each player mature is much more important to the Arrowhead boys golf coach than winning a state championship.

Besides serving as the boys varsity golf coach, Budzien is the girls junior varsity coach and taught English at Arrowhead for 28 years before retiring from the classroom a few years ago. He recently completed his second season as head golf coach after coaching the boys junior varsity squad for 17 years.

Coaching runs in the family. Budzien’s wife taught math at Arrowhead for 30 years and coached the poms squad.

There are often as many as 55 golfers trying out for 36 slots on the squads. Spring tryouts include playing 27 holes of golf over three days.

The squads include 12 freshmen, 12 junior varsity, six varsity reserve and six varsity members who participate in a 14-match season. The varsity team won the state golf tournament last spring, earning its fifth Wisconsin state championship in the past 6 years.

Budzien says his golfers normally carry an eight handicap at the varsity level, a 13 handicap at junior varsity and a 20 handicap for the freshmen squads.

The two dozen players on the freshmen and junior varsity teams pay a nominal fee to practice at the Ironwood Golf Course in Sussex, just five miles from the school. Varsity and varsity reserve players play free three times a week at the Chenequa Country Club three miles away in Hartland.

Be A Caddy

“My job as a coach is not to screw up their golf games,” Budzien says. “I try to be their caddy without carrying their clubs during practice rounds. I’ll remind them not to think about the shot they just made or to think about the next hole after this one.

“During a practice round, I’ll tell them the only thing that matters is their next shot. I’ll remind them that the next green will break uphill and they need to consider the wind, yardage and placement of the flag before deciding how to attempt the next shot.”

Budzien urges his players to live in the moment.

“This means hitting each shot in both practices and matches to the best of your ability and not worrying about the shot you just hit or what you are going to do from the tee two holes ahead,” he says. “As players prepare for each round, we keep reminding them that how they handle each upcoming shot is what really counts.”

Charity Begins At Home

Budzien believes his high school teams are among the best in the state when it comes not only to playing golf, but also being charitable.

The Arrowhead golf teams each spring sponsor the Lake County Charity Invitational. Three dozen area high school teams are invited to play at nationally renowned Erin Hills, the site of the 2011 U.S. Amateur Championship and the 2017 U.S. Open.

The high school golf program teams up with the Midwest Athletes Against Cancer to raise money for childhood cancer research. They raised $62,000 last spring and more than $250,000 over the last six years. There’s a $150 team entry fee, and all teams and players are encouraged to raise pledges and secure donations.

“I don’t think you’ll find a high school golf team anywhere in the country that’s more generous than our Arrowhead team,” says Budzien. “Tom Tallmadge, who was the Arrowhead boys golf coach for 20 years, was the inspiration behind this event. This is like a miniature state golf meet for 36 high school teams, and it takes us nine months to plan this charitable event.”

More To Life Than Golf

On the day Coach And Athletic Director visited Arrowhead High School, Budzien started afternoon practice by showing a short video about a dozen kids suffering from cancer at a Seattle hospital. Despite serious health issues, the children were upbeat, dancing, singing and laughing. The rap video portrayed an important message about life that Budzien wanted to share with his squads.

“It’s sometimes easy to lose perspective as to what is important at the start of a golf match or tournament,” he says. “I want to get our players in the proper perspective where they understand golf is not the most important thing in life and help them relax and play their games.”

Practice, Practice, Practice

Budzien urges his student-athletes to improve by participating in as many golf functions as possible throughout the year. The area offers numerous summer tournaments and other learning opportunities at area golf courses and practice ranges. Players are encouraged to use indoor practice facilities and utilize available video to work on the basic fundamentals of their golf swings.

In talking golf, coaching and life with Budzien, one thing comes through loud and clear.

“Kids are my passion,” he says

Greg Budzien, Boys Golf Coach:

Years of Experience: 17 years as assistant and head boys golf coach. Taught English at Arrowhead for 28 years before retiring.

Numbers: 55 students normally try out for 36 slots on the four golf squads. Budzien captured five Wisconsin state championships and a runner-up title in last 6 years.

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