No changes on tap for 2010 NCAAs

LAS VEGAS – Don’t look for many changes in 2010 within the structure of the NCAA Division I postseason.

That was the message during the opening day of the GCAA convention at the Riviera Hotel, the first time the golf coaches have taken their annual gathering this far west.

The response to the new dates (Dec. 7-9) and site were extremely positive. Attendance was among the highest in the 20-plus years of this event, both in coaches and vendors during the exhibit night. There were 192 coaches on hand, up from 165 last January in Orlando, Fla.

The GCAA’s National Advisory Board voted to bring the convention back to Las Vegas next year, again in early December, a time when most coaches felt best suited them.

During the afternoon breakout sessions, the Division I Men’s Golf Committee took questions and asked for feedback on the postseason setup. The committee, chaired by Darren Spease, associate athletic director at Charlotte, got plenty of both.

The session opened with a presentation from Mark Lasch of Golfstat, who explained some proposed changes in his ranking system. Following input from coaches, the committee said it would continue to look at the current system and proposed changes of the new formula for ranking teams.

“This certainly is not in stone at this point,” Spease said. “We will continue to evaluate everything before making a decision (as whether to use it in its process of postseason selections).”

In 2010, there will be six regional championships with 75 players at each site – a total of 81 teams and 45 individuals. The NCAA Championship, to be played at the Honors Course near Chattanooga, Tenn., will begin with a shotgun start practice round on Monday, May 31, followed by three days of stroke play competition, after which the individual champion will be crowned.

Like last season, the top eight teams after 54 holes will advance to match play, which will now extend over three days (Friday-Sunday).

Among items discussed were whether to keep the present setup on the final day of stroke play where the top 15 teams tee off first and 16-30 play in the afternoon; how to determine the lineups for match play; and the format for the match play portion.

Coaches were split on the tee time issue for the final round of stroke play.

As for the match play lineups, the current manner is to go by the season-long Golfstat rankings following the three days of stroke play to determine 1 through 5. Due to weather problems, that could not be done last season at Inverness and the lineups were based on the rankings prior to the NCAA finals.

A number of coaches felt they should be the ones who set their lineups, citing their insight and knowledge of their own players. In a straw vote, 41 coaches felt they should make the lineups while 28 were satisfied with using the Golfstat rankings.

At the 2009 NCAA Championship, the first in the new format of stroke/match play to determine the champion, the match play portion was conducted with traditional match play rules.

Some coaches want to see a medal/match format where players keep score and low score wins the point. This way, everyone plays 18 holes. After much discussion, another straw vote showed the majority favoring the current format.

While the golf committee said it would take all the information gathered into evaluation, it made clear that, at least for 2010, no changes would be made in the championship format.

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