Format changes could ignite college golf

Texas A&M's Matt VanZandt jumps into the arms of teammate Bronson Burgoon after he closed out his match against Michigan's Bill Rankin during the semifinals of match play at the 2009 NCAA Golf Championships at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. At left is Andrea Paven.

Texas A&M's Matt VanZandt jumps into the arms of teammate Bronson Burgoon after he closed out his match against Michigan's Bill Rankin during the semifinals of match play at the 2009 NCAA Golf Championships at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. At left is Andrea Paven.

The Solheim Cup ended yesterday with the United States defeating Europe. The emotions of victory were seen throughout the squad, and that is something similar to what we see in college golf where the focus is on the team.

We don’t have to wait much longer for that team excitement to get going again, as the college season starts in less than a week.

It seems likes it was just yesterday when Bronson Burgoon hit a wedge shot to within inches to give Texas A&M a victory over Arkansas to win the NCAA Championship. The 2009 championship went through a ‘Home Makeover’ change, and the only element missing was Ty Pennington screaming: “Move that bus!”

We enter a new year and hopefully everyone involved is content to let the foundation settle before any major restructuring takes place. But, there is some minor repair work that is needed.

• Let the coaches set the order of the lineup. This is a big part of what makes the Ryder and Solheim Cups more appealing to the fans: the match-ups. For those critics out there that don’t believe golf coaches do much, this decision-making process would be the equivalent of a football coach deciding what to do on fourth down and one yard to go.

How would this be done? I have two suggestions. One is for more drama and more media exposure and the other is very simple.

Option 1 (preferred option): The night before the first round of matches, the coaches would gather with officials and the top-seeded team would decide if it wants to name a player first or second. At that point a coach would select one of his players to play in Match 1, followed by the opposing coach naming the opponent (90 seconds to make a selection). The first pick for each match would then rotate among the coaches. Talk about strategy, this would do the trick. Oh, and did I mention the media would be present for this?

On days when multiple matches are played, just after both winning teams finish playing, they would meet to set the next round’s pairings.

Option 2: Coaches simply submit a roster sheet listing players in whatever 1-5 order they like.

• The third round of stroke play should see the leaders tee off last. Imagine at the Masters if Tiger Woods were leading going into the weekend and his starting time was in the morning (with the purpose of playing in better conditions). This is not golf as most know it and the order in which teams play needs to be changed.

The last issue that many have is the individual title being decided after 54 holes. My thought here is that college golf can either have an emphasis on team play or individual play. It is obvious that the team game has won over most. You can’t have both unless you go back to the old format and simply play 72 holes with no cut and only 24 teams in the field.

Playing 54 holes sits alright with me because the majority of tournaments during the regular season consist of three rounds. They don’t play five quarters to decide the national championship football game or play an extra 10 minutes at the Final Four.

The women will see a change to this year’s postseason, and no, it’s not match play. The NCAA Women’s Championships Committee has added nine more teams to regional competition. This was a natural fit and it makes sense. In years past, 63 teams were invited to play in one of thee regionals totaling 21 teams at each. Now we will see 24 at each, which will balance the tee sheet and shouldn’t cause any problems.

Now it’s time to let the excitement begin.

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