Coaches welcome expansion to 30 women's golf teams at NCAA championships

Coaches welcome expansion to 30 women’s golf teams at NCAA championships

Come May at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, there will be 30 women’s varsity golf teams in the NCAA championships.

Last year, that number was 24. Two months ago, it rose to 27. Now, women are on an equal footing with men for the first time.

The NCAA division. The I Committee on Women’s Golf announced this week that it would increase the field size for the NCAA Championships to 30 women’s teams and six individuals. Those numbers increased from 24 and 12 in 2022, and the decision comes less than two months after the committee originally announced there would be 27 women’s teams that would qualify for the NCAA Championship.

“I’m surprised but happy,” Furman’s women’s golf coach Jeff Hull said. “I think they just realized, you know, (27 teams) it probably wasn’t going to work. I think the most important thing is that we all want more opportunities for people to get into the national championship.”

The original plan would have allowed three more teams to enter the NCAA Championship. When 24 teams qualified, the top four teams from each regional advanced to the final.

With 27 teams, the championship committee would have implemented a field strength metric to even out the competition at the six regional qualifying sites. Four teams would have advanced from three regional sites, with five teams advancing from the other three regional sites.

Brandt Kieschnick, the head men’s and women’s coach at Sam Houston State, said he welcomes the changes.

“I think college golf is definitely getting deeper,” he said. “You are going to have great stories. Whether it’s an older outlet or someone else going through, we’re going to have more underdogs competing for national championships.

“It’s going to be great for women’s golf. It’s going to grow the game.”

Last year, Duke, Florida, Miami, Michigan State, Northwestern and Virginia Tech finished fifth in their regionals with Northwestern losing in a tiebreaker to their site to miss out on the NCAAs. If those rankings had been applied with the new rules, the Wildcats would have been in.

With the changes, fewer people not on advanced teams will make it to the NCAA Championship. Only one person, instead of two, will qualify from each regional site.

“I feel like we should almost have a separate national championship for individuals because you’re going to have a lot of really good individuals who just won’t get a chance to play,” Hull said. “College golf is a team sport, but it is also an individual sport. I really feel like there should be more opportunities for good people to compete for a national championship.”

When all is said and done, 156 women’s college golfers (as well as the men’s) will be in Scottsdale May 19-24 to compete for a national championship.

“We have a product for men that is very exciting, very entertaining and has a wide audience,” Kieschnick said. “Coinciding with what men do, he is going to be successful. It’s going to be positive.”

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The story originally appeared on GolfWeek

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