My year in golf: Asher Wildman

Patrick Cantlay at the Travelers Championship

Patrick Cantlay at the Travelers Championship

After looking at the PGA Tour’s year-end money list, it seems baffling that college golf still can’t gain more fans. Millions of people love watching college football on Saturdays, then watch the pros on Sundays. Fans have a relationship with many of these players because of their alma maters. I don’t understand why that relationship doesn’t exist between college and professional golf.

Six of this year's top 10 money earners on the PGA Tour were either still in college or graduating in the year 2000. Rising Tour stars like Webb Simpson, Dustin Johnson, Bill Haas, and Keegan Bradley were all in college no more than a few years ago. However, college golf still seems to be a giant unknown to most of the world.

If people are willing to pay hundreds of dollars to catch a PGA Tour event on the weekend, then wouldn’t they be willing to spend a few bucks in gas to see the stars of tomorrow for free?

This year the men’s NCAA Division I Championship will be held at Riviera. The venue alone will garner attention, but so will potential tee times. Imagine going to the finals and seeing a pairing that includes UCLA’s Patrick Cantlay and Texas’ Jordan Spieth? Do you think that would be worth the price of admission?

Just because these golfers are in college doesn’t mean fans can’t get excited about them now. This past summer, Cantlay made several headlines playing in the U.S. Open and other Tour events, yet barely anyone went out to see him play at the Gifford Collegiate at CordeValle -- a college golf tournament.

Take a glance at some of the recent Q-School graduates making it to the PGA Tour for the first time in their careers. A handful of these players were writing mid-term papers just a few years ago, and now will be sharing a locker room with the biggest names in golf.

Brian Harman was a U.S. Walker Cupper and a standout at the University of Georgia. Roberto Castro was an All-American at Georgia Tech, and Harris English, who won a Nationwide event as an amateur this year, was a standout at Georgia and on this summer’s U.S. Walker Cup team.

A new year’s resolution for golf fans should be to go watch at least one college golf tournament in a nearby town. Admission most likely will be free, and it’s a chance to see a star of tomorrow before most golf fans will ever even hear that player’s name. It’s an opportunity to scout out the talent before the stars get to the Nationwide and PGA tours.

Like the PGA Tour, college golf makes stops all across the country. It may be tough for the average golf fan to leave work on a Tuesday to catch a 36-hole day of college golf, but many tournaments are held Friday-Sunday.

The PGA Tour will always have big names to promote across the world, but college golf is the factory producing many of these future players.

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