College notes: Impact of amateur-status rules
WINDERMERE, Fla. – Dylan Frittelli said he still would’ve left South Africa for Austin, Texas, even if the new amateur-status rules were in place when he was deciding on his future. The U.S. Golf Association and R&A announced Monday new rules allowing national governing bodies to cover players’ living expenses and amateurs to enter into contracts with agents and sponsors.
“I probably still would’ve come here. I knew what the college system was about,” said Frittelli, a University of Texas senior and the No. 1 player in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. Frittelli, whose mother, Jennifer, is a teacher, cited the importance of education and the fact that playing college golf in the U.S. would make it easier to attain his goal of playing on the PGA Tour.
Fritelli and other collegians will not be allowed to take advantage of the new rules, which take effect Jan. 1, because of the laws from another organization, though. The NCAA forbids players from entering into agreements with agents and sponsors about the player’s future as a professional, even if no money is received while the player is an amateur. The NCAA allows players to receive training expenses from their national governing body, but not funding for daily living expenses. NCAA rules apply to current and future student-athletes.
“They’ve never been completely on-board together, so I guess this puts us a little further apart,” Oklahoma State head men's coach Mike McGraw said about the divide between the NCAA and USGA regarding amateur-status rules.
American players could benefit from the rule regarding contracts with an agent or sponsor because some remain amateur after their college career. Players who wait for the Walker Cup, for example, could use the months after their college career to make arrangements for their upcoming professional career.
Living expenses will be off-limits for any present or future college golfer, though. Such financial assistance could deter future foreign players from coming to the U.S. for college golf. Why leave home, and be forced to attend class, when you could have your living expenses covered and hit balls all day? It is uncertain how many countries will be able to afford the daily living expenses of their elite players, though. And even the countries that can afford to provide such funds would likely only be able to subsidize a handful of players.
“The less developed nations may not have the necessary funding to make an impact,” said Brad James, the high-performance program director for Golf Australia. “But countries like Australia and New Zealand will now see ways of fully supporting our future stars as they progress into the professional arena.”
Golf’s inclusion in the 2016 Olympics may make governments willing to provide the necessary funds. “I would assume the likes of China are going to use this rule to their advantage to prepare their players for gold medals,” he added.
U.S. Golf Association rules senior director Thomas Pagel said the USGA, consistent with its laissez faire stance toward elite player development, has no plans to pay golfers’ subsistence expenses. The USGA looks at college golf as this country’s player-development program.
James also welcomed the decision to allow amateurs to talk to agents and sponsors before turning professional. “This will open up the discussions that for so long have been happening behind doors,” he said. “However, this does open the door on putting huge amounts of pressure on our future stars of the game.”
International players will still come to U.S. colleges, though. There will be many elite players that will not receive funding from their national golf unions. Others may choose to come to U.S. colleges for the myriad benefits of college golf.
“College in general is a wonderful experience from the facilities, weekly competition at a very high level, college life and world-class education,” said James, the former head men’s coach at the University of Minnesota, where he led the Gophers to the 2002 NCAA Championship.
Though the new rules won’t have much of an impact on collegiate golfers, the same cannot be said for college coaches, who will have to worry about the eligibility of players who took advantage of the new rules before coming to college.
“I think it’s going to be a real issue, because a lot of these kids, when they’re 15, 16, 17, 18, before they make that final decision whether they’re going to go to college or turn pro, it’s hard for them to say no,” said Steve Desimone, the head men’s coach at California. “I think it could snare more of the European kids before they get to us. They better know those rules, and I don’t know who’s going to teach them.”
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Short shots: Spencer Cole, a 2007 AJGA first-team All-American who started his career at Alabama before transferring to Division II Rollins College, won the Rollins College Invitational on Oct. 25 for his first college title. ... Georgia won the Old Dominion/OBX Collegiate by three shots over Liberty. Georgia won the event, which overlapped with both the Isleworth Collegiate and U.S. Collegiate, with a 30-under 834 total. Host Old Dominion finished third at 6 over par, 36 shots back of the Bulldogs. Georgia is a four-time champion of the Isleworth Collegiate. ... UNLV won the Herb Wimberly Intercollegiate by eight shots over Wichita State on Oct. 25. It was the Rebels’ third victory in four fall starts this season. Wichita State’s Hunter Sparks won the individual title by two shots over New Mexico State’s Justin Shin. It was Sparks’ second title of the season. ... Florida Gulf Coast University won its third-consecutive event this fall with a 9-shot win at the Mission Inn Fall Intercollegiate. The Eagles, now ranked No. 85 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, also won the Cobra PUMA Invitational and the John Dallio Memorial.
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Bridgestone Golf Collegiate
Forest Oaks Country Club, Greensboro, N.C.
The skinny: A field of mostly ACC and SEC teams takes on the former site of the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship.