Editor’s note: Check out more of the 2015 “My Year in Golf” series here.
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Another year in the books. In fact, it was year No. 16 at Golfweek for me.
It was much of the same for me again this year: college golf, rankings and more college golf. But, there were a few more things that highlighted my year in golf.
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It has to start with my golf game and first legitimate chance to break par. With four holes to go, I was at 2 under playing my home course, Cascades Golf Course – it’s Cascades International to my group – a muni in Bloomington, Ind. However, two bogeys left me with an even-par 72. And no, I didn’t choke. I just failed to execute.
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The best new course I played this year was one of which I really thought highly. On a trip to California in April to cover the Western Intercollegiate at Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz and then off to Haggin Oaks in Sacramento, I was treated to a round of golf at Del Paso Country Club in Sacramento. The course was prepping for the U.S. Senior Open and truly was a layout that I enjoyed.
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The best shot of the year has to belong to Baylor’s Hayley Davis. She stood in a hazard at No. 16 during the NCAA Championship match at Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla., and hit an approach shot that was an ESPN SportsCenter Top 10 play of the day. Davis would make birdie that put her 2 up with two to play but would lose to Stanford’s Mariah Stackhouse in a memorable comeback as the Cardinals won the national title. The thing that makes this shot so good is that when I went back out there the next day for a closer inspection of the site, her feet were a good inch or two into the mud.
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The best round in an event that I attended: I always seem to go back to the Golfweek Program Challenge and the opening 7-under 64 by Morehead State’s Anna Magnusson. If you have ever been to Caledonia Golf and Fish Club in Pawleys Island, S.C., you would understand just how good of a round the junior from Sweden posted.
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The best meal still belongs to the Western Refining All-America Golf Classic in El Paso, Texas. Members of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Posse annually prepare a ribeye steak along with all the sides and fixings that tops the charts of on-the-road food I experience each year.
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My year also was highlighted with a couple of Q&As that I was fortunate to host. First with Lee Trevino at the Western Refining All-America Golf Classic and then with Juli Inkster at the college coaches convention.
And now more college golf … the biggest part to my year in golf was spending 14 consecutive days in Florida, where the NCAA men’s and women’s golf championships took place at the same site: Concession Golf Club.
The women played first, followed by the men. Both championships would use the same format: stroke-play qualifying followed by match play to determine the national champion.
Match play has been deciding the men’s champion since 2009, and in those seven years the top team after stroke-play qualifying has never went on to claim the national championship. This past year was the first year the women played match play, and, again, the stroke-play winner came up short in match play.
This is a snowball rolling downhill. At what speed, I am not sure.
Each day, I would think to myself or discuss with others whether this really were the way it should be. I have attended hundreds of college golf tournaments in the past 20 years. The feel at the NCAAs is so different. It’s not the same way the game is played the rest of the year.
I am not saying it is right or wrong, good or bad. It’s simply different. If this trend continues, the snowball will continue to go faster and get bigger, leaving me wondering when it will crash and explode.
On to 2016.