Ringler: College golf needs more match play
Just a few more days until I arrive in Stillwater, Okla., for the NCAA Championship and I must say I can’t wait to get to those final three days and match play. Some of you may be shocked to hear that from me.
For the past two years, since match play has worked its way into being a vital part of college golf, many have thought of me as a match-play hater. I am here to tell you that I’m just the opposite – in fact, give me more match play.
What I disliked about the current format was the fact that for the entire regular season, college golf operated under the format of stroke-play. And then during the most important tournament of the year we see an entirely different format used. That bugged the you-know-what out of me.
With great memories of the last two championships at the Inverness Club and The Honors Course, I say let’s quit the occasional dates with match play and get married to it. That’s right – a full season of match play.
Think about it: team-versus-team match-ups all season long.
It’s really quite simple. The NCAA allows 24 days of competition. These competitions range from one-day tournaments that consist of either 18 or 36 holes, two-day events that will play 36 or 54 holes or three-day tournaments that play 54 holes (18 each day).
Simply convert these events into a match play format. This is how it would work using the Carpet Capital Collegiate hosted by Georgia Tech as an example. The Carpet Capital Collegiate is a three-day, 54-hole event with a 12-team field.
Georgia Tech could invite five teams to join them in play. Sure, the number of teams in a tournament field would decrease, but we are adding excitement and rivalries to college golf. On the first day, a team would play two matches, the second day a team would play two matches and then one match on the final day. Every team in the field would play five matches and come out of the week with a won-loss record that totaled five. Your tournament champ would be the team that compiled the best record.
College golf records would then resemble a college basketball team’s won-loss total. And they would be much easier for the common fans to understand and relate to, making the sport more open for more to follow.
The Carpet Capital field could be very intriguing. For example, Georgia Tech could invite in-state rival Georgia, conference rival Duke, West coast power UCLA and toss in a mid-major in Jacksonville State. And we must not forget about the .500 Rule – we will finalize the field with Eastern Kentucky.
You could get creative with this as well. A host could invite eight teams and set up Pool A and Pool B. Teams would play each team in its pool and then based on pool play would then go into bracket play to determine a champion. All of this could be done in five matches and three days.
Or you could have your standard one-day, four team events where a program would play two matches in a single day. Two-day events could consist of three or four matches, but whatever your time allowed you could incorporate match play into the big picture and do away with stroke play.
Imagine the excitement of winner’s bracket at a conference championship.
All of this would add up to college golf being much more memorable. Exactly like my memory from the last two years at the NCAA Championship – with Bronson Burgoon’s memorable clinching wedge shot in 2009 and Augusta State’s unforgettable upset last year.
What do you lose in this takeover? We lose individual champions, but we have already seen that to up to a point under the current format and with a complete switch to match play, individual won-loss records would still be able to be computed to form a poll/ranking.
Needless to say, I'm looking forward to next Friday.