From The Daniel Island News|
DI teen swaps sand for snow
By Jennifer Johnston
Dec 26, 2012 - 8:43:18 AM
Richard Hubbard signs his letter of intent to play golf at University of Wisconsin on November 14, 2012. Pictured in photo: Standing (L-R): Pinewood Prep Head of School Steve Mandell, Athletic Director Nancy Beatty and Pinewood Prep Golf Coach Greg Baechtle, Seated (L- R): Richard's father Robert, Richard, mother Cindi, and brother Robert Jr.
Richard Hubbard is gearing up for some monumental changes. Come next fall, he’ll trade in his sand-worn flip flops for sub-zero snow boots, his Gamecocks ball cap for a wool Badgers beanie, and cheese grits for cheese curds. And he’s looking forward to every bit of it. Really.
Richard will be one of three golfers added to the University of Wisconsin roster beginning fall of 2013. He signed a national letter of intent on November 14 of this year, making official what had been years in development.
The Daniel Island teen picked up golf when he was just six years old, spending time on the links with his enthusiast dad. “I fell in love with it from the get-go,” recalls Richard. When it became apparent that his desire to play was well-matched with true talent, the Charleston native was hooked up with a couple local teaching pros, eventually connecting with Sea Island coach Todd Anderson and most recently with Danny Stewart of the Country Club of Charleston.
But it was at a tournament during his eighth grade year that Richard was introduced to the coach that would play the biggest role in defining his future with the game of golf. Michael Burcin was the assistant men’s golf coach at the University of South Carolina, and took notice of this young athlete from Daniel Island. Burcin introduced himself and began opening the door of recruitment, and Richard instantly felt what he describes as a “great connection” with the coach and his program at USC. But around that same time, Coach Burcin was named the number one assistant coach in college golf, and on the heels of that recognition was offered the job as head golf coach at the University of Wisconsin. And he was determined to take Richard to Madison with him.
“I have always liked Richard’s competitive fire on the golf course, regardless of the situation or where he stands on that day,” Burcin states. “He is tremendously motivated and he will not be intimidated to compete on the national scene.”
Richard admits, “I never thought about going to Wisconsin until (Burcin) took that job.” Richard was also recruited by Auburn, South Florida, and a re-staffed South Carolina. During his first visit to the Badger campus, there was tons of snow on the ground. But he was also blown away by the new $3 million indoor training facility that has everything from heated bays to sand traps. And, really, the scale kept tipping in favor of Wisconsin because of one factor: Coach Burcin.
“The way Burcin coaches his players, and the fact that he’s a great recruiter,” Richard relates, “He will get some of the best golfers in the country, making it a great place to compete and reach my goals.” He should say more goals: today, Richard stands at number 80 in national rankings, having played a U.S. junior and amateur schedule for several years. As a junior all-state player, he finished second in the South Carolina state tournament and was the medalist in six of 12 high school matches last spring. And in June 2012, The Post and Courier named Richard golfer of the year.
Richard’s parents, Cindi and Robert, and his brother Robert, who is a junior at The Citadel, know that it will be an adjustment to have Richard in another region of the country. “I would be lying if I said I wasn’t sad that Richard will be going so far away to school,” admits Cindi. “But I like Coach Burcin a lot, and I know that Richard will be in good hands with him at Wisconsin. I do plan to visit as much as I can, and I will travel to watch the team play.” Travel for golf is not new to Richard’s mom, as she has been on the tournament circuit with her son for nearly 11 years now.
Richard will also return to the Charleston area for tournaments, this time competing with his fellow Badgers, whom he says are some terrific future teammates. It will be an adjustment to not be able to play 18 holes of golf every day of the year, so trips back to the southeast will be a welcome fill to those inclement weather gaps. Still, Richard knows life on campus won’t be all about golf; he’s looking forward to discovering a path for study, and for all the other fantastic Wisconsin sports events. “It’s going to be a blast,” he says with the conviction of someone ready for something completely different.
Besides, a little ol’ climate change won’t handicap the strength of his swing or the precision of his putt. And with the support of his coach and family behind him, Richard will surely rise to the challenge, thriving in his new environment. That is, until the first time he stands before his sleet-covered car, vaguely recalling a northern native advising him to buy something called a “scraper.”
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