Lance Ringler’s College Golf Page
BRYAN, Texas – The “.500 rule,” match play and an increased number of regional sites are a few things that have entered the men’s game in recent years. The women’s game has had a big advantage since those guidelines and formats have been introduced. Decision makers for the women have been able to sit back and learn from those often-controversial moves on the men’s side.
Check out Golfweek’s special report on the addition of the .500 rule in men’s college golf.
The men use mach play to determine a national champion, but there is very little interest in match play on the women’s side. The .500 rule is something that seems to have a little more steam.
The .500 rule requires a team to maintain an overall winning head-to-head won-loss record in order to be eligible to receive an at-large bid to compete in the postseason. This season marked the fourth year for the men to have that guideline in play, and each year there seems to be a lot more chatter from the midmajors and smaller Division I schools wanting to see the .500 rule find its place in the women’s game.
In my opinion, the women are not ready for this change. Several years ago, I made the statement that the women’s game is 10-15 years behind the men’s, and I still believe that, as do many of the coaches here this week at the NCAA Championship. Naturally, the coaches competing in Bryan, Texas, this week would be of the mind-set that the .500 rule is not a good idea for the women.
Of the 24 teams competing this week, 22 are from what is considered a bigger conference – or in college football terms, a Bowl Championship Series Conference.
There were eight teams in the postseason that finished the regular season with sub-.500 records, with Kentucky being the poster team for those schools in favor of a winning-record rule. The Wildcats finished the regular season with a 47-104-0 overall record (.311 winning percentage). Kentucky finished 20th out of 24 teams at the NCAA East Regional, and was ahead of only one other school – Florida International – that received an at-large bid at that site.
If the rule had been used this past year, the NCAA Women’s Golf Championship Committee would have to go much deeper in the national rankings to fill out the regional field. They would have had to dig all the way into the 80s until they could round out the 47 at-large bids.
During the first round of the national championship, I asked all 24 head coaches how they would vote, yes or no, on the addition of the .500 rule in the women’s game. The results were as expected, considering the makeup of the field. Twenty-one coaches were against it, with three being in favor of having it. UC Davis, Coastal Carolina and California each said they would like to see it.
Those results are consistent with what we see in the men’s game. Coaches from a power conference are more likely to be against it, but coaches of a midmajor or small Division I school tend to be very much in support of it.
More than 20 men’s college coaches recently spoke out on the addition of the rule in the men’s game four years ago.
Texas men’s coach John Fields would be more than happy to lend some advice to the decision makers in women’s golf.
“The .500 rule has stifled competition and creativity with our coaches and players both at home and on the road. It has devastating consequences for the growth of collegiate golf. The women have this one right!”
One thing that helps the women steer clear of serious .500 rule talk is the fact that historically, larger schools have kept the door open for midmajors and smaller schools. One of the main complaints on the men’s side was that teams traveled in packs.
Stay tuned to this issue, as I predict that it will get more attention as the women’s game continues to get deeper with teams that compete at a higher level.