Believe it or not, the start of another college golf season is just a few short weeks away. Asher Wildman will take the next 60 days to break down the top 60 teams for both the men and women. Today, it’s No. 57 on the board with the Charlotte men and N.C. State women.
For a complete listing of all the teams on the list thus far, click here.
2010-11 final ranking: 57
Coach: Ryan Cabbage (first year)
Top returnees: Olafur Loftsson, Andy Sajevic
Top newcomers: Freshman Raul Menard of Canada and freshman John Finley of Fort Wayne, Ind.
Projected starters: Olafur Loftsson (sr.), Andy Sajevic (jr.), Paul Ferrier (sr.), Rafael Guerrero (sr.), Tyler Mitchell (sr.)
Key losses: Will Golden
Key fall tournament: Rod Myers Invitational at Duke
2010 recap: Charlotte won the Atlantic-10 Championship for a sixth consecutive time last season, the 49ers’ only victory. Three years ago, Charlotte was a top-10 team and a program very much on the rise – witness its third-place finish at the 2007 NCAA Championship – but the 49ers haven’t had much success since Jamie Green left for Duke in 2009. Charlotte had five top-5 finishes last season, but finished in the middle of the pack at most events.
Not only did Charlotte drop in the rankings from No. 38 to No. 57 and fail to make it out of NCAA regionals, but head coach Adam Pry resigned at mid-season. This summer, Charlotte hired Ryan Cabbage, a former Auburn assistant coach, to take over the program.
Player to watch: Olafur Loftsson. “Based on what I’ve seen this summer, he appears to be ready for a breakout season,” Cabbage said. “I look forward to working with him and watching him grow.”
2011-12 preview: Cabbage has accepted the challenge of turning around the Charlotte program. The decline hasn’t been steep, but the 49ers want to return to national prominence. With the loss of Will Golden to graduation, Charlotte will be looking for someone to step up and take his No. 1 spot in the lineup.
A big plus for Cabbage is that the other four starters return from last year’s Atlantic 10 title squad. “To have that experience and depth is a huge bonus,” Cabbage said. “We need to find someone to fill (Golden’s) shoes.”
Another big question is how Cabbage will do as a first-time head coach. He has been a men’s and women’s assistant for the past 12 years, but has observed two top-notch head coaches in Auburn’s Kim Evans and Nick Clinard. He also has the benefit of advice from the man who put Charlotte on the college golf map.
“Jamie Green told me to be myself and do things the way I would do them, and not the way I would think everyone would want me to do them,” Cabbage said. “I am going to do things my way and put my own stamp on this program.”
Bottom line: On paper, there’s no reason why this team shouldn’t win a seventh consecutive A-10 Championship. The 49ers have owned the conference the past few years, and Charlotte should be a lock for another NCAA regional berth as the conference’s automatic qualifier.
N.C. STATE WOMEN
2010-11 final ranking: 57
Coach: Page Marsh (12th year)
Top returnees: Brittany Marchand (so.), Ana Menendez (so.), Amanda Baker (jr.)
Top newcomers: Freshman Augusta James of Canada, freshman Vivian Tsui of Canada and Lyndsay McGetrick of Highlands Ranch, Colo.
Projected starters: TBD
Key losses: Brooke Baker
Key fall tournament: The Landfall Tradition
2010-11 recap: It was a rough year for the Wolfpack, as the team posted only one top-5 finish all year, a tie for first with East Carolina at the UNCG Starmount Fall Classic. N.C. State had a record of 50-88-4, but only 10 of their wins came against teams ranked in the top 50, and no starter averaged less than 77.2 strokes per round. In eight regular-season events, the Wolfpack finished outside the top 10 five times and finished their season with a seventh place at the ACC Championship, failing to make it to the postseason for the first time since 2001.
Coach Page Marsh believes her team still learned a lot from its struggles, and hopes that experience will pay off this season.
“This team would get off to poor starts, but would finish strong and never quit,” Marsh said. “Golf is a process, and we took a lot of valuable lessons away from last year.”
Player to watch: Amanda Baker. “She just finished second in the (British Columbia) Amateur and has been steadily progressing,” Marsh said of the junior from Canada. “I am really proud of her results and passion for the game. She is a tremendously talented young woman who started playing golf a little later then other players. I can see her winning several times at the collegiate level.”
2011-12 preview: N.C. State has questions up and down its lineup. With three incoming freshman that may be able to crack the starting five, the Wolfpack could be a very young squad in the fall. Regardless of who starts, the team will have no seniors. For her part, Marsh says she will give playing time to those who earn it. If that’s the three freshmen, so be it.
“I want to see whose passion is peaking and how each player is managing their game,” she said. “When we get to school, I want to see who lit the fire under themselves to get their games better and fight for spots.”
Bottom line: For N.C. State to return to NCAA regionals, it must perform better against higher-ranked teams. Last year, it was 10-74-3 against teams ranked in the top 50. Expect several different lineups this year until Marsh hits on a combination that helps the ’Pack get back to the postseason.