Today, 72 women’s college golf teams will play a practice round at one of three regional sites, each in hopes of being one of the 24 total squads that will earn a ticket to the NCAA Championship. There has been a change in the format at the women’s regionals, which is a step in the right direction, but it’s not a big enough step.
The format change takes place in the final round and is noticeable when looking at the tee sheet. The top 12 teams still tee off in the morning wave, and the bottom 12 tee off in the afternoon. The difference this year is that the leaders will tee off last in the morning wave. I find this interesting, because there still is the issue of the top 8 teams getting back on the bus and heading for the airport, while the bottom half of the field is still playing the final nine holes.
Weather concerns are one reason for this. But if weather is the key factor here, simply add a 36-hole cut. Teams outside the top 16 heading into the final day have never qualified anyway.
This is golf, and if the idea is to make it like a pro event, then play it like a pro event. Can you imagine Bubba Watson slipping on the green jacket while Trevor Immelman is making the turn?
The final day of regional play – often the best day of the year in women’s college golf – can be better. Simply adjust the tee times and have the leaders tee off last in the afternoon to build the suspense throughout the day.
As for the 72 teams that made it to the postseason, the final “magic number” for the women was 60: Using the Golfstat rankings, no team ranked worse than that number made it in as an at-large. Also, no team with a ranking of better than 60 was left out. For fun, if you combined the Golfweek/Sagarin numbers with Golfstat’s, the same results applied.
There is another lingering issue causing discussion in the women’s game: Is the .500 Rule needed? The men have used this guideline for several years now and have adapted well. In fact, most coaches on the men’s side agree that it has been good for the sport in many ways. However, on the women’s side it has yet to be included.
The .500 Rule simply means a team must have an overall head-to-head winning percentage of .500 or better. Looking at the 45 at-large women’s teams that made regionals, eight of those teams had a record of less than .500.
I am on the fence about adding this rule to the women’s game, much like I was when the men decided to adopt it for the 2008-09 season. The computers are smart enough to figure out that Arkansas, with a 57-80-3 head-to-head record, is better than East Tennessee State, which was left out of regional play despite a 101-32-1 mark. The question is, will everyone else be able to reach that conclusion, despite how bad a team’s record may be?