My Year in Golf: From fun with rankings to getting outdriven by my teenage son

Lance Ringler

My Year in Golf: From fun with rankings to getting outdriven by my teenage son

College

My Year in Golf: From fun with rankings to getting outdriven by my teenage son

Looking back at 2017, what do I remember about my year in golf? Like every year for the past 18 years, college golf and managing the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings database have been the two areas of focus for me. However, there were a few other things that stick out when it comes to my year in golf.

On the course, it was a better year for me. I was able to drop my handicap a couple of index points, credited to the fact that I finally stopped swinging the driver scared. My increased play has to do to with the fact that my 14-year-old son, Landon, is playing more golf – and frequently outdrives me. It was a memorable year with my family. I caddied for Landon for the first time in a tournament and carried the bag for my wife, Missy, while watching her win her 10th Bloomington (Ind.) city title.

Lance Ringler and his 14-year-old son, Landon, who hits the ball further than him

The year started on a sad note with the passing of our friend Mark Laesch of Golfstat in March. It was so nice that my co-worker Beth Ann Nichols and I got to spend an afternoon with Mark in his home last winter. I certainly miss all of our conversations about college golf and Indiana basketball.

I traveled from coast-to-coast hosting our Golfweek Collegiate Series, spent a few days in Oklahoma in the broadcast booth calling the action for The Maxwell and my annual two-week trek for NCAAs took me to the Chicagoland area and Rich Harvest Farms. This past spring saw NCAA men’s golf media day at Wrigley Field, where we got to go on the field to witness former Northwestern standout golfer Luke Donald throw out the first pitch. It was a strike!

I traveled to a few new courses, including a trip to Nemacolin Resort in Western Pennsylvania with some of our Golfweek course raters and played Black Sheep Golf Club, a unique 27-hole facility in Sugar Grove, Ill.

Lance Ringler doing his best Johnny Miller impression in the booth at The Maxwell

The year in college golf did not disappoint. The one thing that caught my attention was how much the gap between the elite programs and the next group continues to narrow. Each year we are quick to point this out, but it is a fact with more schools at all levels continuing to invest in their golf programs.

Proof of that balance came at the finals last year. Entering the postseason I was asked several times how many teams could win the NCAA Championship? The answer reached to teams outside the top 10 in not only the men’s game , but on the women’s side of things, as well. The Oklahoma men would win the national championship from a ranking outside the top 10 and the Northwestern women nearly did the same before losing to Arizona State in the championship match.

Match play has helped create balance at the finals and will continue to do so. We have yet to see a No. 1 seed – the top team from stroke play – claim the title in match play.

Moving along to the rankings and especially what we see in professional men’s golf. The numbers speak a little differently than what most expect.

Lance Ringler and Beth Ann Nichols with Mark Laesch (middle)

Most would agree that there is no dominant player. Jason Day started 2017 ranked No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking and the year will close with Dustin Johnson in the top spot. However, there is a different story to tell in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings. Rickie Fowler checks in as the top player.

For those of you who use winning tournaments (majors) as a focal point when determining the best player you probably have a problem with this. But, the Golfweek/Sagarin numbers simply looks at how these players actually pan out when they go head-to-head. It’s a different way to gauge a player’s performance. Is that a bad thing? Consider the facts on how the rankings are achieved.

For example: Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson played in the same tournament 14 times in 2017 and Fowler was 8-6 vs. Johnson. Fowler vs. Jordan Spieth saw Fowler post a 9-6 mark vs. Spieth. Fowler vs. Justin Thomas, Fowler had the edge again with an 11-6 record.

In fact, there was no PGA Tour player that beat Fowler more than he beat them.

On to 2018, where I am in still in search of my first hole-in-one.

Latest

More Golfweek
Home