Looking back at the 1978 NCAA Championship at Eugene Country Club

Oklahoma State won the 1978 NCAA Championship at Eugene Country Club. From left: Britt Harrison, Bob Tway, Lindy Miller, Rafael Alarcon and David Edwards (individual champion)

Looking back at the 1978 NCAA Championship at Eugene Country Club

Men

Looking back at the 1978 NCAA Championship at Eugene Country Club

EUGENE, Ore. – The first time the NCAA Championship came to Eugene Country Club in 1978, Mike Holder led Oklahoma State to a 17-shot victory. Now the athletic director at OSU and a member of the championship committee, Holder stood on the range on the eve of the 2016 men’s championship and reminisced.

Turns out 1978 was the first year teams went to a five-count-four daily scoring system at NCAAs. Prior to that, it was five-count-four for the tournament. (Add them all up at the end of the tournament and count the four lowest total scores.)

Been the same ever since.

Holder now questions why teams don’t count all five scores.

“Somebody somewhere way back when decided to do that for some legitimate reason,” he said. “But if you’re just a person off the street and you turn on the TV and try to figure out the scoring in college golf, it’s perplexing.”

Devon Brouse’s first NCAA Championship as a head coach came in 1978. The 28-year-old Brouse led North Carolina that year and remembers the committee shortening the individual competition to 54 holes so that the focus shifted solely to teams for the final round. David Edwards of Oklahoma State won the individual title that year, but had they counted four rounds, Chip Beck would’ve won the title.

“It was a one-year deal,” said Brouse, now the director of golf at Purdue. “There was so much controversy because of that they just said we can’t do this again.”

Holder, for the record, liked deciding the team and individual winners on separate days.

John Fields, whose Texas team is ranked No. 1 this week, actually played in ’78 for New Mexico.

“It wasn’t particularly great for us,” he said. “I was not prepared for the golf course.”

Georgia competed with four players in ’78 and finished second. Gus Holbrook’s grandfather died the day of the practice round so he got on a plane and went home.

Holder came out during the final match of this year’s women’s championship on May 25 and loved what he saw.

“I saw more unbelievable golf in an hour than I see in a whole year watching golf on television,” he said.

A huge fan of the match-play format, Holder acknowledges that it doesn’t always identify the best team. Then again, 72 holes of stroke play didn’t always either, he said.

The 1978 championship was especially sweet to Oklahoma State given the heartbreak they suffered the year before. Holder said his Cowboys were the best team in the land and entered the final round in fourth place.

He was perplexed to see the committee put OSU behind teams that were 1, 2, 3. When he asked for a rationale, the committee told Holder they wanted to get the results on the wire quicker. Never mind the fact that a team in fourth could still win the thing.

“You just took away the only good thing about being behind,” Holder told them. “At least you can get out and post a score.”

OSU got its revenge the next year.

One thing that hasn’t changed about the place in 38 years: tall trees.

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