Weekly top 5: UNF charting new territory at No. 5

University of North Florida after winning the Amelia National Intercollegiate.

University of North Florida after winning the Amelia National Intercollegiate.

1.) Ospreys flying high: When North Florida head coach Scott Schroeder learned his team was now ranked No. 5 in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, his response was, “Wow!”

On the heels of a dominating performance at the Amelia Island Invitational this past weekend, the North Florida golf program will head into the winter break with its best ranking in program history.

“It shows we have a talented group of kids and they believe they can play with anybody and have worked hard to prove that,” Schroeder said. “Without a football team on campus, its always going to be a bit of a challenge, but we have had some Florida kids that wanted to be here and they have worked hard to show they can compete with anybody.”

The Ospreys played in four events this fall, winning twice and placing third in the other two. Victories at the AutoTrader.com Collegiate Championship and the Amelia Island Invitational might have garnered the most attention, but the event that may have made the biggest impact on Schroeder’s team climbing so high on the national level was a third-place showing at the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational, one of the top events in college golf.

“It’s not somebody’s opinion. The computer comes up with that ranking and it shows that they went out and earned it,” Schroeder said.

Three North Florida players all sit in the top 50 in the individual rankings. Sean Dale leads the way at No. 9, followed by Kevin Phelan (36th) and Kevin Aylwin (41st).

“Its a great honor to be considered with the top programs in college golf. We have always thought we had the facilities to compete and the hard work shows,” Schroeder said.

2.) Scorecard mishap: It’s going to be a long winter break for the Augusta State women’s team. The Jaguars were set to post a sixth-place finish Nov. 8 at the Challenge at Onion Creek hosted by Texas State. However, two Augusta State players - Natalie Wille and Kirsty Rands - turned in scorecards that were not signed. This resulted in Augusta State only having three scores to count, thus leaving the Jaguars with an incomplete round and a team disqualification.

It’s safe to say that everyone who understands golf knows it’s the player’s responsibility (or the coach who collects and turns in the scorecards) to make sure the card is signed, but does this rules breach really warrant such a severe penalty? One so severe that it could cost the Jaguars a spot in the postseason?

“It’s an honest mistake where we unfortunately learned a very valuable lesson and I can assure you it won’t happen again,” Augusta State had coach Kory Thompson said. “(Signing your card) is one of those things you take for granted until someone doesn’t do it … It’s a rule of the game of golf that must be followed just like all the others.”

Augusta State was ranked No. 51 by Golfstat prior to the tournament and after being forced to take a loss to each team in the field, now sits at No. 83. The results are similar in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, dropping from No. 53 to No. 98. The “Magic Number” to receive an at-large bid will usually fall around No. 60 in the rankings.

There are many factors that can explain this oversight. A shotgun start in college golf can create a hectic environment, with many teams having to rush from the course to catch a flight. Some teams (like Augusta State) don’t have an assistant coach to help in the scorecard management at the end of a round, and some tournaments don’t have a specific scoring area.

Say what you want, but disqualification for unsigned scorecards is too harsh a penalty.

College golf is different in so many ways. Why not have a different rule for this sort of violation of the rules?

3.) Coaching vacancy: This past week Long Beach State head coach Ryan Ressa announced his resignation from the program to begin a new career with TaylorMade Adidas Golf. One can assume Ressa, who had been at Long Beach State for a year and a half, will be involved in their collegiate division, so we won’t miss seeing him in the future.

Ressa’s departure sparks questions about the future of the 49ers’ program. Ressa replaced Bill Poutre, one of the more outspoken and more creative coaches in the business, who left after two seasons to return home to New England and assist the golf program at Boston College. Poutre, like Ressa, was advancing a program that each have said could be one of the best in the nation.

Long Beach State Athletic Director Vic Cegles said he was “confident we will find the leadership to continue the pursuit of national recognition and a top-25 NCAA program.”

Poutre and Ressa are coaches that could have accomplished that mission. Maybe there are other factors involved, such as salary, overall operating budget and not having an assistant coach. On the flip side, Long Beach State is a non-football school in a state that is experiencing severe budget cuts. That obviously plays a role in the budget ceiling. 

Ressa, who was primed for a job like Long Beach State after working at a variety of schools, said playing golf for the 49ers could be one of the best places on the West coast and that it would be a great place for a young coach.

Maybe Ressa got a great deal with his new company, or maybe he did not think he could get past some of the previously mentioned factors and lead the program to what Cegles said he envisions. Whatever it may be, I am not sure everything is in place for the the next coach. In my opinion, a program with a geographical location like Long Beach, a No. 77 ranking and a goal of being in the top 25 is a good place for just about any coach.

4.) Sign on the dotted line: With the fall college golf season over for most teams, the focus this week shifted to the future of college golf - the class of 2012.

Check out where the top players have signed and which schools came out with the best new players.

BOYS

GIRLS

5.) Going into the Hall: This year at the annual Golf Coaches Association of America convention in Las Vegas, six people will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Five of those are coaches: Arthur Boulet of Bryant University, Ken Hyland of Malone University, Vince Jarrett of Abilene Christian University and University of Houston, Jimmy Russell of Odessa College and Mike Wydra of UC San Diego. Also Gary Hart - formerly of Ping - will be inducted for his contributions to college golf.

The group will be officially honored at the GCAA Hall of Fame Reception and Awards Banquet Monday Dec. 5 at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas.

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