By Greg Johnson
The Division I Women’s Golf Committee has recommended a change to the format of the championship that includes match play being used as the way to determine the national team champion, starting in 2015.
Before it can be implemented, the proposal must be approved by the Division I Championships/Sports Management Cabinet, which is scheduled to meet Sept. 10-11 in Indianapolis.
The recommendation calls for the individual champion to still follow a 72-hole structure. The wrinkle will be that the low 36 players and ties after 54 holes of stroke play will compete in the final 18 holes. The individual champion would be determined on the final day of stroke play.
The next two days of the championship would be reserved for match play to determine the team national championship. The quarterfinals and semifinals would be conducted the day after the individual champion is crowned. The team match play final would be played on the last day of the championship.
The proposed format, which also includes an adjustment to the current date formula, would follow the competition schedule as outlined:
• Friday – first day of competition (18 holes);
• Saturday – second day of competition (18 holes);
• Sunday – third day of competition (18 holes); top eight teams also determined for team match play competition;
• Monday – final individual day of 18 holes of stroke play for top 36 players and ties;
• Tuesday – quarterfinals and semifinals of team match play;
• Wednesday – championship match play to determine team national champion;
Currently, the championship is conducted in a four-day, 72-hole format, with the lowest scores used to determine the individual and team national champions.
Through a multi-year partnership with the NCAA, the Golf Channel is scheduled to air the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s National Championships, and then air tournament action from both the NCAA Division I Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships beginning in 2015.
The 2015 women’s and men’s championships are scheduled to be contested on the same course starting in 2015: The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla., hosted by South Florida. The 2015 championships will mark the first time since 2005 that the NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championships will air live on television. The men’s championship will begin after the women’s championship has concluded.
Additionally, the Golf Channel will surround the live tournament action at the championships with comprehensive news coverage on-air and online throughout the year, keeping viewers up-to-date on all of the storylines leading up to and during the championships.
Series like Golf Central and Morning Drive, as well as GolfChannel.com, will be leading resources for the women’s and men’s collegiate games.
“Over a year ago when our committee met, one of the topics discussed was how we could grow our sport and provide our student-athletes more exposure,” said Division I Women’s Golf Committee Chair Theresa Becker, associate athletics director at Kansas.
Once the partnership with the Golf Channel was reached, the committee felt modifying the format would enhance the championships for the participants and the fans viewing on television.
“Golf Channel will be able to cover the championships in a way familiar to those who enjoy following intercollegiate athletics and specifically, college golf,” Becker said. “Coverage will be easy to understand and will keep viewers engaged with the broadcast. There are so many great stories to share about individual golfers, teams, their coaches and institutions. We are pleased Golf Channel recognizes the importance of covering the NCAA women’s golf championship and appreciate the platform to showcase this wonderful sport and its participants.”
Another recommendation the committee is making as part of the format adjustment is expanding the regionals to four sites with 18 teams and six individuals competing. Currently, the regionals are conducted at three sites with 24 teams and six individuals.
“Schools are responsible for incurring the expenses to the regionals,” Becker said. “By creating an additional regional, travel costs for schools may be reduced, which will have a positive impact on institutional budgets. Further, if we face weather issues, the committee will be provided greater flexibility with establishing tee times and completing each of the competition rounds.”