The .500 rule in Division I golf – which requires a team to have a win-loss head-to-head record of .500 or better against Division I teams in order to be eligible for the NCAA postseason – still exists.
However, the controversy surrounding the rule has subsided from when it was first introduced two years ago.
No doubt, the rule has changed the way numerous coaches have set their schedules. Coaches have still tried to play in events against high-ranked teams, while also incorporating a few tournaments they feel they can pad their “W” column.
Coaches know that even if they have a losing record in the fall, they have the spring to make things right. For most, one or two tournaments with top-5 or better showing gets them back in the postseason picture.
Now is hardly the time for any team to hit the panic button. Still, there are some teams that know they’re going to have to kick it up a notch in the next few months.
Of the top 50 teams in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, only two are below .500 – No. 44 East Tennessee State (26-36-2) and No. 49 Auburn (28-35). Two others are right on the .500 mark – No. 28 Clemson (19-19) and No. 39 Wake Forest (25-25).
Of the next 50 ranked teams, just 10 are below .500. Most of those are within nine wins away from reaching the break-even point.
Within easy striking distance are No. 57 Mississippi (31-35), No. 59 Central Florida (25-32), No. 61 Northwestern (33-35), No. 72 Penn State (32-35), No. 79 Lamar (29-31), No. 83 Colorado (32-41), and No. 86 Arizona (26-30).
Three others have a little work cut out for them, but certainly can turn things around: No. 73 Indiana (33-48); No. 93 Purdue (22-48) and No. 96 Oklahoma (18-28).
But for now, I encourage all teams to forget about what could have been this fall and what will be this coming spring. Enjoy the holiday season.
Come February, get you gears churning.
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Veteran Clemson golf coach Larry Penley will be inducted into the South Carolina Golf Hall of Fame Dec. 5. He will join inductees Mark Anderson, a former University of South Carolina player, and Frank Ford III, a longtime amateur and the state’s reigning senior player of the year.
Under Penley, in his 27th season with the Tigers, Clemson won the 2003 NCAA Championship and finished third in 2008. The Tigers have eight top-5 NCAA finishes under Penley and have won the Atlantic Coast Conference title eight times.
He has been named ACC Coach of the Year seven times, and after the 2002-03 season, was selected national coach of the year by Golfweek as well as the Golf Coaches Association of America. In 2004, he was inducted into the Golf Coaches of America Hall of Fame.
Penley isn’t the only current college golf coach gaining hall-of-fame status this year.
Arizona coach Rick LaRose was inducted into the Arizona Golf Hall of Fame Nov. 23 along with amateur player Ken Kellaey and architect Gary Panks.
LaRose, inducted into the GCAA Hall of Fame in 2003, is in his 36th year as a head coach at Arizona and in his 32nd year at the helm of the men’s golf program. He is the only coach in collegiate history to win NCAA Championships in men’s (1992) and women’s (1996) golf.
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Washington senior Nick Taylor was presented the Mark H. McCormack Medal last weekend during a special ceremony at the school. The award from the Royal and Ancient recognizes the top-ranked golfer in the R&A’s World Amateur Golf Ranking at the end of the amateur season and following the European and U.S. Amateur championships.
The 22-year-old from Abbotsford, British Columbia, moved into the No. 1 spot in June after winning the U.S. Open sectional qualifier at Tumble Creek, Wash., where he finished two shots clear of a largely professional field. He went on to the U.S. Open proper at Bethpage State Park’s Black Course and was low amateur, tying for 36th. His second-round 65 tie the lowest score by an amateur in the championship’s history.
He went on to win the Sahalee Players Championship and was qualifying medalist at the U.S. Amateur Public Links, where he eventually finished runner-up.
A first-team All-American as a junior, Taylor won four titles last season at Washington and was the school’s first Pac-10 Player of the Year.
Taylor topped the World Amateur Golf Ranking for 21 weeks before being displaced by France’s Victor Dubuisson. Taylor is ranked third behind Dubuisson and Italy’s Matteo Manassero.