The 2023 GCAA National Convention was held December 5-7 at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. College golf coaches from across the country descended upon the city with lots to discuss; from changes to achievements that occurred this past year. There was no shortage of discussion points, with the main topic on everyone’s mind being the new ranking system in college golf. Here are some of the key takeaways from this year’s convention that you may want to know!

Golf Rankings

Starting off with the new systems that took effect this past fall, there were many discussions held about the change to college golf rankings. Mark Broadie, who is in charge of the rankings, held two sessions to discuss the new rankings and took questions from coaches to clarify how they work. The new ranking is a weighted average points system based on head-to-head stroke differentials, Broadie said during his presentation, points are a means to the end. Head-to-head stroke differential determines points, and the ranking impact of points is what matters. At the end of one of his breakout sessions, Broadie made it clear he was willing to adjust his points system based on what coaches wanted as the season continues. However, it seemed that coaches are confused with how the points-based system works. For more than three decades, Golfstat had been in charge of rankings. The dramatic switch to Spikemark, and now to Clippd for scoring, has been a big change for those used to the old system. When it comes to how teams are ranked, hardly any coaches are upset with where their teams are in the rankings. The frustration comes with not knowing how they got there from the formulas that were instituted. Obviously, bumps were expected when adopting an entirely new system, but it’s understanding formulas that has been the biggest frustration for coaches.

One of the biggest changes we’ve seen this year is that match play is now included in the rankings for both individuals and teams. This is something that hasn’t been done in the past. It appeared a majority of coaches agreed they would be fine not including match play in the rankings. Others seem to have more of their frustrations with how this new situation even began, going all the way back to Spikemark being chosen as the new scoring and ranking provider for the NCAA.

As far as Clippd goes, the company essentially saved the day from what could have been a major disaster. Clippd delivered on their promise by having a functional website to house scores, stats, and rankings. They have constantly been collecting data from the fall and adding it to the website before the Nov. 15 rankings drop. Perhaps the biggest Clippd news was the announcement of a new name for the site that will host all of the information for college golf. Scoreboard powered by Clippd is coming soon, and it will house all of the scores, stats, rankings and more for all levels of college golf. Scoreboard will take over the former Spikemark website, which will soon be defunct. The site will have a modern look and will continue to be updated to meet the needs of coaches, players, and fans.

NCAA Championships

Among other announcements, more information was provided on the NCAA Championships, which are right around the corner. Omni La Costa is set to host the 2024, 2025 and 2026 Division I NCAA Championships in Carlsbad, California. Having just gone through major enhancements and refurbishments, La Costa’s driving range is about the only golf-course centric project remaining to be completed. The renovation of the property is ahead of schedule and prepping to host in late May.

Arnold Palmer Cup

That wasn’t the final announcement of the convention. The head and assistant coaches for the American and International squads at the 2024 Arnold Palmer Cup were selected, as well. LSU’s own Garrett Runion and Arizona State’s Matt Thurmond will be Team USA co-head coaches. Minnesota’s Rhyll Brinsmead and Ireland’s Barry Fennelly will guide the International team. Team USA’s co-assistant coaches include Florida’s Dudley Hart and LSU’s Alexis Rather, while Scotland’s Stew Burke and Ireland’s Aaron O’Callaghan will assist Team International. The competition, which is played similar to the Ryder Cup, features men’s and women’s collegiate golfers from the United States against their International counterparts. It will take place July 5-7 at Lahinch in Ireland.

Golf Ball Rollback

With the news just breaking at the time of the convention, the topic of a golf ball rollback had everyone expressing their thoughts on these major changes. Wondering how these changes will effect amateur golf, many coaches expressed their differing opinions. Reporters from Golfweek spoke with a few coaches at the convention to hear their thoughts on the new plans. Some have stronger opinions than others. Truly, this topic of discussion has created a split with industry professionals, many being for, and others being against the changes.

John Fields, head coach at the University of Texas, had the following to say:

“I love how they rolled it out where they just didn’t drop a bomb and it’s happening tomorrow. It’s going to take until 2028 or 2030. It gives us a grace period where we can all figure this out exactly how it’s going to affect everybody. I think there’s positive values attached to it and probably some negative values attached. But at the same time, we’ll adjust to it. I think all of the people in two different camps and two different views, that will all go away. As far as affecting amateur golf, I don’t really think there’s going to be an affect at all. Not thinking about the best players in the world or the best amateurs in the world, but just thinking about amateur golf. The bottom line is you need to choose the right tees when you go out to any particular golf course. And if you choose the right tees, you’re gonna have fun because the golf course is designed for you to have fun.”

Martha Richards, head coach of the Denver Pioneers Women’s team, had a different take on the subject:

“It’s interesting because playing at altitude in Denver, there’s so many golf courses that our men’s team can’t play. If there are irons into every par 5, and the course is 7,500 yards, I understand it for the men. For the women, this is one of those where I would’ve loved to have the men try it first and then have us watch. But, I don’t know. It will be interesting. I don’t feel like with any of the women’s game, we’ve gotten too long. I don’t think we’ve reached that point yet. We’re obviously longer than ever before. It’s one of those things where we’ll have to wait and see, and I’ll be curious to see how it affects things.”

Steve Conley, head coach at Methodist University, shared his thoughts saying:

“In the long run, I don’t think it’s going to affect (the ball) that much, but I don’t particularly care for it. If this was going to happen, it probably should’ve happened way before now. I know a lot of people in the golf industry, and this is going to affect so many people and seems too late. What’s the point?”

Dave Pezzino, head coach at UConn, kept his opinion short and sweet:

“I’m not a fan of it at all. What’s the point of even doing it now?”

Source: Cameron Jourdan for Golfweek

– Photo Credit: GCAA –

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