Substitution, .500 Rule likely to be the focus of college golf coaches convention – Golfweek


Next week, the college golf coaching community assembles in Las Vegas for the annual Golf Coaches Association of America and Women’s Golf Coaches Association national conventions.

The one topic that is certain to be discussed is the substitution rule. This past fall, it appeared that substitutions would be permissible during regular-season tournaments, however there was some confusion on exactly how it would work. That resulted in the following announcement being sent to coaches in August:

The Division I Men’s Golf Committee has delayed the implementation of substitutions for regular-season play until the 2020-21 season. The committee is fully supportive of substitutions for regular-season play and will confer with coaches during the 2019-20 season and at the GCAA Convention for implementation. 

How substitution will work when it is finally implemented next fall should be a hot topic in Las Vegas, especially considering that some coaches don’t support the idea.

A few questions must be addressed. For example, will teams be allowed to have individuals competing in the event and will that individual be allowed to be inserted into the lineup as a substitute? Or can a coach only substitute a player who has not yet played that event? Maybe an even bigger question is how substitution will figure into individual rankings.

San Jose State prepares for the 2019 NCAA Women’s Championship at the Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Ark.

Also expect a discussion on NCAA regional sites. Seeding conversations will likely continue around the possibility of awarding hosting opportunities to top seeds, which rewards a team for having a good season.

There has been some chatter in the college-golf world that some coaches would like to see the.500 Rule eliminated in men’s golf. The .500 Rule requires a team to have a head-to-head won-loss record of 50 percent or higher against Division I teams.

The rule was first implemented for the 2007-08 season, and four teams did not meet the requirement that year. As a result, those teams – Arizona, Vanderbilt, Northwestern and Minnesota – all missed out on at-large berths into the NCAA postseason.

Since that initial year, only seven teams total have missed playing in the postseason. For the most part, coaches have figured out how to schedule accordingly.

On the women’s side, .500 Rule conversations continue mostly in the mid-major community. However, it’s doubtful this discussion has any momentum heading into Las Vegas.

My take on the .500 Rule remains unchanged. It has been good for the men’s game and I am in favor of it for both men and women, but it is not necessary.

Duke women’s golf coach Dan Brooks, left, shakes hands with Wake Forest women’s golf coach Kim Lewellen after setting pairings for the final match at the 2019 NCAA Women’s Championship. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

If there’s another topic that should be discussed at the convention, it would be the addition of a postseason tournament – picture something like the National Invitation Tournament in college basketball.

Why? There are many schools investing in their golf programs, but the reality is many of those schools, which are mid-majors, can’t keep up and compete year after year with teams in the Power Five conferences.

On the women’s side the Power Five schools dominate the NCAA championships, to the tune of 90 percent of the field coming from the Power Five leagues in each of the past four years. It’s just below 80 percent for the past three years on the men’s side.

An NIT for college golf could be a good reward for a program that is investing in the sport. It could provide the opportunity to compete for a championship against programs that are both similarly sized and similarly funded.


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