As a former club golfer, I competed in four NCCGA National Championships and know the significance of qualifying for the coveted season-ending nationals. In May, we announced the qualifying procedures. Since then the NCCGA staff has been collecting feedback via surveys, emails, calls, and texts. I have spoken with many club golfers to get their input on these changes and two questions have come up time and time again, “Why can’t we keep the old system?” and “how does this affect my team?”
"Why can’t we keep the old system?"
Given the growth of the NCCGA, we no longer have the ability to invite one team per region to nationals. Due to our region expansion and efforts to improve pace of play at nationals [by reducing the field size from 256 to 224], resulted in a need to adjust our qualifying procedures. We had two options to consider:
Option 1: Disregard all region affiliation and invite teams strictly on rankings
This solution would have made it far more difficult for teams in colder weather climates to qualify since they often play in less than ideal weather conditions especially in the regional tournament shoulder seasons.
Option 2: Find some type of middle ground in which we divide up the nation into groups to award bids but still award additional Wild Card bids to the top ranked teams
This middle ground concept led us to create zones, a grouping of regions of similar weather based on historical NCCGA regional weather and past cancellation data. The zones intentionally do not account for the historical average scores or strength of teams in particular regions. The zones are in place strictly to ensure there is representation from all parts of the country, similar to how it was done previously where at least one team per region was invited.
Based on feedback from players, student leaders, and our staff it became apparent that option 2 was a far more desirable option. Knowing the field for Nationals would decrease by 32 players, we introduced the "National Invitational Tournament" in order to give more teams the opportunity to attend a championship on a national scale.
“How does the new qualifying affect my team?”
To illustrate how the new qualifying procedures would work, let's showcase who would have qualified if the policies were in place for the Spring 2017 season.
National Championship Bids
Step 1 – Invite the past champions (Georgia)
Step 2 – Auto-bids are awarded to the 4 best teams based on differential in each zone (max of 2 teams per region receive an auto-bid and teams must have played in both regional tournaments). Each team is shown with their season ranking based on the USGA formula* to calculate differential.
* The USGA assigns a rating and slope to each golf course; the same formula that is used to calculate your personal golf handicap index is what we use to calculate your personal and your team’s differential for the rankings. Here is the formula: (Score – Course Rating) x 113 / Slope Rating
Step 3 – Invite a minimum of 6 Wild Card teams regardless of region or zone. Next 6 teams in the rankings: NC State (12), UNC (14), Baylor (16), Florida State (17), UNC-W (19), Georgia Tech (20)
Step 4 – In the event any of the teams mentioned in step 2 or step 3 are not able to accept their bids, additional Wild Cards are distributed to fill the field. In most seasons, several teams are not able to accept their bids due to scheduling availability, budget restrictions, etc.
Step 5- Invite the top 8 individuals from non-qualifying teams
National Invitational Tournament Bids
Step 1 – Invite regional winners who were not invited to the National Championship (6, 3, and 1 point(s) are still earned at regional tournaments)
Region winners - Stanford (25), Golf Academy Carlsbad (28), SCSU (29), Liberty (36), Golf Academy Myrtle Beach (40), Missouri (44), Pittsburgh (45), Colorado State (64), SUNY Cortland (68), Maryland (76), New Hampshire (89)
Step 2 – Auto-bids are awarded to 2 teams per zone based on differential (teams in Step 1 count towards the 2 auto-bid teams). If there are more than 2 teams that won their regions, all of those teams will receive an auto-bid (see Zone 3 below for three region winners)
Step 4 - Invite the next top 8 individuals from non-qualifying teams
Here are the teams on the bubble – Tennessee (30), Texas State (31) South Carolina (32), Florida Atlantic (35), Keiser (37), Creighton (38), Clemson B (39), Arkansas Tech (41), ASU B (42), Nebraska (43), Robert Morris (47), Purdue (48) Oklahoma (49).
If you have questions or final suggestions on the new qualifying procedures, please fill out the feedback form or contact me directly. Looking forward to a great fall season!