How does college golf work?
⛳ Stroke of genius
Folks often associate golf with summer, but that’s practically the only time college golf isn’t happening. NCAA golfers run a split season, meaning they start in the fall, chill out when the cold sets in, and link(s) back up in the spring. It’s tough to find a tiny white ball in the snow, after all.
- Rosters generally include around 10 athletes, but they don’t all play in every tournament, which can lead to spicy intrasquad competition. Keep your friends close…
The structure of regular-season tournaments can vary, but tourneys usually include stroke play or a combo of stroke and match play. In stroke play, the team with the lowest cumulative score across several rounds tops the leaderboard. As a bonus, most tourneys permit scratching, allowing teams to drop the score of the golfer who had the toughest day.
- On the other hand, match play pairs opposing team players up in direct competition. The golfer in each pair who wins the most holes earns their team one of five available points, and the school with the most points wins the match.
Like tennis, the NCAA awards a team and an individual national championship every spring. However, players don’t compete twice for the separate trophies — the team natty consists of four stroke-play rounds and a subsequent match-play bracket, and the golfer in the lead at the end of stroke play takes the individual title. Efficient.
🏌️ Old dynas-tees and new parity
On the women’s links, 17 schools have won the title since the NCAA established the sport in 1982 — Arizona State leads with eight, and Duke is close behind with seven. But since 2008, variety’s been the name of the gals’ game: No squad has dominated the sport, which has crowned 11 different champs in the last 15 seasons. Currently reigning? First-time title-holder Wake Forest.
- Individually, however, Stanford’s Rose Zhang has towered above the field, becoming the first woman to win two individual nattys last month. Now that she’s a pro, young stars will clamor to claim her NCAA throne.
Men’s golf is one of the oldest college sports. It was governed by the National Intercollegiate Golf Association from 1897 until 1938 (when Yale was straight-up killing the game). The NCAA took over in 1939, and 30 schools have won the ’ship since.
- Houston leads all programs with 16 trophies, but they haven’t snagged one since 1985. In the past 10 seasons, we’ve had nine different champs — a sign of parity throughout the sport.