Substitutions, regional selections, golf NIT among topics during college coaches convention

Golfweek's Lance Ringler (far left) hosts coaches forum.

Substitutions, regional selections, golf NIT among topics during college coaches convention

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Substitutions, regional selections, golf NIT among topics during college coaches convention

LAS VEGAS — The annual gathering of college golf coaches was held last week at Planet Hollywood. For many years the get-together was sure to bring good debates, sometimes heated, on many of the hot topics facing the game.

However, with the championship format seemingly decided (for the time being, anyway) the spirited discussions have become more tame.

The three-day convention continues to be a positive experience for the sport and shows the growth in the college game. A record number of men’s coaches (318) attended this year and again the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) and Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) joined together for many segments. That included the featured speakers, sports psychologist Bob Rotella and CBS golf analyst Dottie Pepper. The coaching body also heard presentations from Lynn Marriott and Pia Nilsson (Vision 54) and Scott Fawcett and Beau Hossler, who discussed the DECADE Course Management System. Tony Dovolani, who has appeared on the TV show Dancing with the Stars, also spoke on training methods along with Damon Goddard of Goddard Golf Fitness.

Topics

Selection Process

Most of the pre-convention hype was about the selection process for NCAA Division I men’s regionals. During the breakout sessions, the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Committee conducted a couple of exercises that allowed coaches to select which regional they would participate in, based on their team’s ranking.

For years, some coaches have argued that teams are not rewarded well enough for a strong regular season. The current system, which S-curves the field based on the Golfstat rankings, does create balance. However, the issue that is making some uneasy is that a top-ranked team could be sent to regions of the country its players are not accustomed to (while other teams in the field might be). That has spurred talks of finding a better way to reward those high-achieving teams.

What the “mock selections” showed was that teams had to make a choice: is who you want to play more important than where you want to play? Most cared more about the “where” and chose to stay closer to home. This also resulted in more imbalance in terms of field strength.

To me, the current system just needs a minor tweak. Right now the process creates balanced fields, but there simply needs to be an added layer where a committee can adjust a few teams when needed. For example, last year the Purdue men’s team hosting a regional at home would not result in the Boilermakers being a true No. 7 seed. Better-seeded teams did not want to be sent to West Lafayette, Ind., where that Purdue team is playing at home. The Boilermakers finished fifth and advanced.

On the women’s side last year, there were two clear-cut examples of seedings being way off. Michigan State was much better than a 14th seed and Wake Forest was much worse than a sixth seed (simply compare fall vs. spring results). The Spartans placed third in their regional and moved on to the national championship while Wake Forest placed 15th and did not.

Substitutions

There was no debating this topic since it has already passed and is in place for the 2018 NCAA Division I men’s postseason (there are no substitutions in the women’s game). What is new is that now a team can, prior to any round in regional or championship play, substitute a sixth player for any member of the team. This must be done at least 10 minutes prior to that team member’s starting time.

There seems to be two sides to this as well, but this is only an option. No coach has to do this and most would probably only do this in situations where an injury or illness is present.

A few weighed in on Twitter about this.

Course Access

Currently, teams are not allowed to play the site of the NCAA finals after Aug. 1 of the year prior to the finals date. The host institution is allowed to play there up until 10 days prior to the event. This is a topic that is still being debated by coaches.

There is some talk that beginning in the 2018-19 season, this rule will be applied to the regional level as well. That means a team that is set to host a regional tournament will not be allowed to host a regular-season event on that same course.

Recruiting Calendar
Oddly enough, a recruiting calendar was only talked about in the hallways. In early 2018, the NCAA will vote on this issue. This will certainly have a big impact for college golf coaches.

We could see a coaching staff only allowed 45 days to recruit with a dead period that is said to be set around the winter holiday break.

NIT
There is talk from the coaching body on both the men’s and women’s side that there is interest in an NIT created for college golf teams that don’t make the NCAA postseason. This also signals the growth of the sport and if the support is there for a tournament for teams who don’t make NCAA regional play, this would be fantastic. Believe it or not, this is something I have heard before, many years ago.

The 2018 coaches convention is set to return to Planet Hollywood again next December.

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