One ground rule: a player has to have played the majority of his/her career in the 2000s for me to make them eligible. That's why Georgia Tech's Bryce Molder isn't on my list ... only played 1 1/2 seasons in the 2000s.
As always, disagree if you like but let me know who you'd pick instead.
Rhys Davies, East Tennessee State, 2003-07
3x 1st-team AA, 71.23 avg., 10 wins, three-time conference POY
Matt Every, Florida, 2002-06
3x 1st-team AA, 06 Hogan Award, 72.04 avg., 4 wins
Rickie Fowler, Oklahoma State, 2007-09
1st-team AA both seasons before turning pro, 08 Hogan Award
Bill Haas, Wake Forest, 2000-04
3x 1st-team AA, 04 Nicklaus Award, 9 wins, 70.94 avg. (69.0 as senior)
Billy Horschel, Florida, 2005-09
3x 1st-team AA, 2x SEC POY, 71.73 avg., 5 wins
Dustin Johnson, Coastal Carolina, 2003-07
2x 1st-team AA (1x 3rd-team), 3x Big South POY, 72.11 avg.
Brock Mackenzie, Washington, 2000-04
2x 1st-team AA (1x 2nd-team & HM), 71.65 avg., 4 wins
Hunter Mahan, USC/Oklahoma State, 2000-03
2x 1st-team AA (1x 2nd-team), 03 Nicklaus Award, 2x Big 12 POY
Troy Matteson, Georgia Tech, 1998-2003
2x 1st-team AA (1x 3rd-team), 02 NCAA medalist, 71.91 avg., 5 wins
Ryan Moore, UNLV, 2001-05
2x 1st-team AA (1x 2nd-team & HM), 04 NCAA medalist, 05 Nicklaus Award
D.J. Trahan, Clemson, 1999-2003
2x 1st-team AA (2x HM), 71.4 avg., 5 wins 02 Hogan Award, 02 ACC POY
Camilo Villegas, Florida, 2000-04
3x 1st-team AA (1x 2nd-team), 2x SEC POY, 71.21 avg., 8 wins
Amanda Blumenherst, Duke, 2005-09
3x 1st-team AA (1x 2nd-team), 3x Nat'l POY, 71.67 avg., 12 wins
Maria Hernandez, Purdue, 2005-09
3x 1st-team AA (1x HM), 09 NCAA medalist, 3x Big Ten POY, 13 wins
Katherine Hull, Pepperdine, 1999-2003
2x 1st-team AA (1x 2nd-team), 03 Nat'l POY, 73.52 avg., 7 wins
Liz Janangelo, Duke, 2002-06
4x 1st-team AA, 03 Nat'l POY, 7 wins
Tiffany Joh, UCLA, 2005-09
2x 1st-team AA (1x 2nd-team & HM), 07 Pac-10 medalist, 08 Pac-10 POY
Stacy Lewis, Arkansas, 2004-08
3x 1st-team AA, 07 NCAA medalist, 2x SEC medalist, 10 wins
Charlotte Mayorkas, UCLA, 2001-05
3x 1st-team AA, 04 Pac-10 POY, 5 wins
Azahara Munoz, Arizona State, 2005-09
2x 1st-team AA (2x 2nd-team), 08 NCAA medalist, 2x Cummings Award
Virada Nirapathpongporn, Duke, 2000-04
4x 1st-team AA, 02 NCAA medalist, 02 ACC POY, 5 wins
Stacy Prammanasudh, Tulsa, 1998-2002
4x 1st-team AA, 3x WAC POY, 10 wins
Lorena Ochoa, Arizona, 2000-02
2x 1st-team AA, 02 Nat'l POY, 12 wins in 20 college starts
Alison Walshe, Boston College/Tulane/Arizona, 2004-08
2x 1st-team AA, Conf. medalist in 3 conferences
The most popular candidates bandied about right now are Notre Dame, Missouri, Rutgers, Syracuse and Pittsburgh. The latter two don't field men's or women's varsity golf teams, so their addition would be irrelevant. The first three schools have men's and women's teams but none of them are in the top 25 in the Golf World/Nike Golf men's coaches' poll or the Golf World/NGCA women's coaches' poll.
Here is how they rank according to Golfstat through the end of the fall season (where they'd rank in the conference is in parenthesis):
Notre Dame 65 (7th) 36 (4th)
Missouri 69 (8th) 81 (10th)
Rutgers 190 (12th) 169 (12th)
From strictly a quality of competition standpoint, Notre Dame and Missouri would obviously be the preference over Rutgers. With all due respect to the Scarlet Knights, should they join the Big Ten it would set up a situation very similar to what the ACC faces with Boston College. It's unlikely Rutgers would begin to travel much to the Midwest to compete in tradition Big Ten tournaments, essentially making the conference championship the lone tournament in which they'd tee it up with the league foes. (Indeed, the Rutgers men's team faced no Big Ten schools in any of its fall starts or in any start during the 2008-09 season; the women's team played against Penn State twice this fall and three times in 2008-09).
Conversely, the Notre Dame men played seven different Big Ten schools (3-6 overall record versus conference schools) this fall while the ND women played 10 (5-7-1). Missouri's programs played seven on both the men's (0-7) and women's (2-5) sides. Both competitively and geographically seem to be a better fit.
In my mind, the top choice would be Notre Dame, although the odds of them joining the conference are slim because of all the football politics. Missouri is a viable option as well, but from strictly a golf standpoint, I'd hope the conference might consider two other candidates: Kent State and Louisville. Take a look at their current stats through the fall.
Golfstat Record vs. Big Ten Fall 2009
Men Women Men Women
Kent State 41 (4th) 30 (3rd) 5-2 3-1
Louisville 68 (8th) 16 (3rd) 5-7 3-1
Kent is the longest of long shots because its football program is not at the same level as the other Big Ten schools, but Louisville would seem viable.
Am I missing anyone? Let me know who you think would be worth considering as well.
What's the biggest challenge in coaching college golf?
Well that has to be answered in the context of my own school, Purdue. Being in the Midwest and the climate in which we’re recruiting in, trying to compete with the Sun Belt schools. I think we can compete with them in an athletic competitive sense, but in recruiting it’s very difficult. We've got some built in disadvantages. I think there are times we can overcome that, but I think that comes back to what’s against us. So that makes it more challenging but in some ways more rewarding when you do have some success.
Recruiting, that has to have changed over your career how different is the recruiting game now than it was when you first started?
Well I think with the top players it's always been competitive. So from that standpoint, it hasn’t changed. I think there is more opportunity now for coaches to go out and find those kids that aren’t developed fully. If you go to a Northern climate, or go to Canada, you can get players that are behind some of the Sun Belt kids, but that doesn't mean in two years they're not going to be just as good if not better. Case in point, the kid at N.C. State [Matt Hill] that won the national championship. He was not that highly recruited.
You’re one of a shrinking group that coaches both men and women at a Division I school. Why do you coach both? What do you like about that?
Purdue wanted me to do it that way. It's not that I had an ambition to coach women. But I've enjoyed it. It's made me a better coach.
I've learned patience with players. I've learned to be a little more tolerant, maybe. Worked harder at communications. Worked harder at understanding. All the things you should do as a good coach, I think. I've enjoyed it. I've had tremendous support at Purdue. I've been blessed at that regard. In a lot of ways it's invigorated me as a coach.
Is there something you specifically take from coaching the women to the men and vice versa?
I think the principles are the same. You have relationships on both sides, but the fundamentals are the same. The technical part of it is the easy part of it. The psychology is the challenge. Coaches, at least from my standpoint, enjoy the competition, enjoy working with players and developing people. That's certainly why I do it. And it's just been rewarding to have a team that's competed for a national championship the last few years. To have a national player of the year and an individual champion last year [in Maria Hernandez]. And so maybe in some ways maybe that's made up for the fact that our men's team is going through a little bit of a down tick.
Whether you call it parity or not, there seem to be more teams that are competing nationally than a couple decades ago. Why?
More good players. Certainly on the men's side, the talent pool is deeper and global now. And on the women's side it's certainly deeper than it was 10 years ago. Maybe the women are a decade behind the men in terms of numbers and depth.
No Northern school has won an NCAA women's title and only one has won on the men's side since 1979. Do you feel, however, like the potential for that to change is increasing? You've come close on the women's side. Will it happen in the next five to 10 years?
I think we could. I definitely think we could. You see a team like Michigan State this year go down to Chapel Hill and win that tournament in the fall against all the top teams in the southeast. Geographically they shouldn't do that. And I think our team is capable of doing that. A lot of things have to fall in the place, and you have to be a little bit fortunate at the tournament to pull it off.
Should the women's NCAA Championship adopt the match-play format the way the men's has?
Well I don't think it really matters what I want to have happen to the women. I made the mistake early on in women's golf of trying to give them some ideas and some things I thought had value from the men's championship and the men's procedures. I think they want to blaze their own trail and control their own destiny, and I respect that.
What did it mean for Purdue to have Maria Hernandez win the NCAA individual title last May?
It just validates all the things we sell in recruiting and all the things we tell our players. Sure the weather is an inconvenience but it doesn't really make any difference in the big picture. If you want to be a champion and you want to work hard, you can do it anywhere. All it did was validate what we already really knew to be true.
You did a lot at North Carolina, but coming back to Purdue, your alma mater, and achieving some of the things you have there, how rewarding is that for you?
It's been very rewarding because I've been very blessed. To take a guy who was a turf student at Purdue, and loved golf courses and golf course management, and was a certified golf course superintendent and then joined the PGA before I ever got into coaching. And to get the opportunity given to me by Homer Rice, who was the athletic director at North Carolina, after I had already been there for four years, to get involved in coaching was really neat. At the time I didn’t really know I was going to be a golf coach. The competitive side of it appealed to me. Playing three other sports in high school, I was always competitive. I was always athletic. I was always around great coaches, great leaders. Working with the student-athletes appealed to me. And coupling that with golf course management and golf course development and so forth, it was the perfect career. And Purdue has just blessed me again. I'm in charge of 36 holes [at the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex] and two golf teams. I get to kind of manage the masters plan so to speak, develop people.
The thing I'm most proud of in my career is my former players and assistants who have gone on into coaching. I used to think of myself and say you know that’s a product of my leadership. Probably it's more of a product of the students wanting to prove [they could do it better than] the way I did it.
If you had a career mulligan, how would you use it?
Boy that's a good one. I think a couple times when we had a chance to win a national championship [at North Carolina], I probably should have been more active and involved as a coach than I was. Two examples come to mind. Early on at Bermuda Run [in 1979], we had a 13-stroke lead after the first round. We had an eight-stroke lead after the second round. And we just kind of got into that protective, hang-on mode. Under those circumstances you can't compete that way. You have to force the action. You're playing well. You've got to go out there and keep making birdies and being aggressive. Just my own inexperience as a coach, I don't really think I handles that right.
And then another time was in Kentucky in 1993, when three teams stood on the 72nd tee box tied for the lead, Florida, Georgia Tech and North Carolina. And I had my last two guys hit it in the water on No. 18. If I had it to do over again they were both freshman at the time. They were playing well, had great weeks. Both of them finished in top 10. But as freshman, I probably should have been a little more involved coaching and kind of talking them in so to speak. A lot of times as a coach if you're not sure what to do, you ends up doing nothing. And maybe I was just a little unsure of myself. I became a little more confident, so they would have been more confident.
Is there something you'd like to see going forward, some kind of change on the men's or women's side, would you like to see?
We've had a lot of legislative evolution that was thought to enhance the academic experience for our students. One reason that I've always felt we shouldn't be looking at competition days but we should be evaluating class days missed. Who is to say some institutions playing 24 days don't miss twice as much class as other institutions that play 24 days? I think the academic part of it probably does need to be prioritized a little bit stronger than it is. That would be my one thing. I felt like that's never been a equitable way to help students be success, is by throwing an arbitrary number of 24 days of competition out there because in different parts of the country is totally different.
Not to single out any one of your players, but with players like Davis Love III and others going on to have pro success, what's that like for you, knowing what they were like in their formative years?
It's very rewarding. To have four players who have won on the PGA Tour, four former players, that’s pretty neat. And I'm just excited about Maria, who just finished fifth in tour school and had a chance to win. She has her LPGA card now. I think if she improves her putting, she might be chasing Lorena [Ochoa] her in a couple years. I’m not certainly predicted that any time soon, but Maria certainly has an unparalleled passion for competition, for golf, of any player I've ever had. But to answer your question, yeah, you take a lot of pride. Not just the guys on the PGA Tour, but the guys on the Nationwide Tour or the mini-tours, struggling to get their cards.
When you're recruiting what are you looking for? What's a sign to you of a golfer who is going to be successful?
Well what I've learned the hard way is you have to recruit character, personal character. It's not easy to do. I can't tell you have many students I've recruited that have surprised me a little bit and disappointed me a little bit with their character. I think if you not only get the quick feet, so to speak, like basketball coaches look for, but you recruit character, you're going to be successful. The kids are going to play hard for you and work for your and are going to buy into the fact you're trying to help them. The guys are tough that way. They're stubborn and hard headed and sometimes don’t want to listen. That's what's fun about the women, they are more receptive, more willing to listen and more willing to be coached.
Would you rather have a kid that you know will buy in to the team concept who has a stroke average of 74 or 75 or the guy that shoots 70 and doesn't buy in?
I think that's a loaded question. Any coach that's a competitor is going to want the kid that's going to shoot the low scores and want to win tournaments. You're going to put up with more from that All-American than the one that shoots 75. But sometimes when you're coaching a kid that's working hard and achieving relative to his ability, that's more rewarding than the star.
What's it mean to get into the GCAA Hall of Fame?
It's just a huge blessing. As I said earlier, I've had so many blessings. To be able to compete and be able to couple what I love, golf course management and development and care with coaching student athletes on both the men's and women's side, and working for administrators that really want to help you succeed. I’ve had great examples of leaders to be around. Homer Rice was the first one. Morgan Burke, the athletic director I work for now. I think you know Nancy Cross, my sports administrator, she's the best sports administrator I've ever had. So to come back to Purdue, the school that I love and where I grew up and where my wife did too, and to be able to try to help Purdue be successful, that's the ultimate. It's been a rewarding and enjoyable career and it's not over yet.
How many more years do you have?
I'm healthy, thank goodness. And you know as long as I can contribute and make Purdue better in golf, I'm going to keep grinding.
"Coach Penley is Clemson golf," said U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover, a former Tiger. "There is no other name that deserves to be on that facility."
The new building, planned to be built adjacent to the team's driving range, will provide space for the team and include meeting rooms, offices, a repair ship and locker rooms. More than half the money for the $1.5 million has been raised.
Penley is in his 27th season as his alma mater's men's coach. His program has finished in the top-20 nationally 20 times, more than any coach in any sport in school history.
"The initiative to name the building after Coach Penley demonstrates Larry's long-term success with our golf program, which is the most consistent program we have year in and year out," said Bill D'Andrea, Clemson's senior associate director for external affairs. "This is a testimony to Larry's coaching, leadership and success."
There were a few odds and ends from the meetings. The NGCA committee that oversees the Hall of Fame selection process approved the creation of a points criteria that will be used to determine future inductees. A points criteria will also be in place for selecting players for induction. Additionally, the committee voted to allow players who did not graduate from college to be eligible for selection. This will allow some prominent players who choose to leave school early (Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa to name but two) a chance to have their brief but outstanding college careers recognized.
Speaking of Hall of Fames, it sounds like the GCAA is seriously considering adding a players section to its HofF along with a contributors category. Nothing is official, but multiple members of the National Advisory Board noted that expansion plans were discussed during meetings at the convention. More research is necessary as to what type of criteria is needed to be eligible for either category, putting the time line for the first inductees off for at least a few years. I've been on the record as very much in favor of adding players to the GCAA Hall so I think a move in that direction would be fantastic for college golf.
The U.S. lost 13-11 last June at Cherry Hills CC outside Denver and fell 14-10 in 2008 at Glascow GC in Scotland. The two sides are 6-6-1 in the competition's first 13 years although Europe has a 5-2 record since 2003.
That said, through the first day of the GCAA annual convention at the Riviera Hotel and Casino, the weather has been about the most controversial topic being discussed. Heated exchanges have been non-existent as coaches have come to accept the changes of recent years and are, to use a good cliche, letting the dust settle.
Indeed, if any men's coach who didn't like the change to match play for the NCAA D-I Championship was hoping to re-open debate on the matter, committee chair Darin Spease put a polite stop to it, noting that the committee needed more than a year's worth of experience with the new format for any true dialogue toward returning the championship to 72-hole medal play to occur.
Some interesting ideas did surface, though, about tweaks to the championship. Using a medal-match play format rather than straight match play after the final eight teams advanced from 54-hole qualifying was brought up. The arguments for it seemed to have merit, most specifically trying to get things to end on the 18th hole, particularly at courses not necessarily suited for straight match play. Nevertheless, a straw-poll vote of coaches in attendance suggested match play was fine.
Coaches also discussed whether they should have the power in setting their line-ups for match play rather than using Golfstat's ranking to determine the order. A majority of coaches liked the idea of getting to pick themselves, thus allowing for some more strategy to play itself out.
Earlier in the day, Rachel Newman Baker, the NCAA's director of agents, gambling and amateurism activities, spoke regarding the results of a recent study on collegiate wagering. Golfers were found to be more likely to gamble compared to student-athletes in other sports on either a social basis (once a year), frequent (once a month) and heavy (once a week).
The good news for those worried that the NCAA might be looking to start a vendetta against golf is that Newman Clark was very reasonable in her presentation of the data and not looking to find scape goats. She acknowledged the NCAA isn't out to eliminate the culture of golfers playing for $2 nassau, but that the data pointed that golfers are doing more than making simple, friendly wagers with buddies on the golf course and are venturing into sports wagering and other more elicit forms of gambling. What could have been a very preachy lecture turned out to be a practical discussion of the issue.
"He started hitting balls last week, and actually looked pretty good," Haack said. "He didn't have any pain. But I think it just makes sense to take things slowly and not put any pressure on recovering too quickly."
Georgia will also be without Will Kropp on their roster in the spring. The 19-year-old sophomore, who had been nursing a pinched nerve in his neck, has decided to transfer to Oklahoma, citing homesickness (he hails from Edmond, Okla.)
Number of teams that started the fall unranked
Augusta State, 11; Oregon State, 16; UNLV, 21; Virginia, 23; San Diego State, 25
Florida, 16; Texas A&M, 21; UC Davis, 22; South Carolina, 24
Number of teams that started the fall ranked but ended unranked
Meanwhile, when you consider how the top-25 teams ranked in various categories, there are some observations that can be made. Below are how the teams rank based on:
1) the actual men's and women's polls
2) overall head-to-head winning percentage
3) winning percentage versus other top-25 teams
4) winning percentage versus non top-25 teams
* No. 20 Georgia has likely hung on to its spot in the top 25 based a bit on reputation. To cut coach Chris Haack some slack, his team has been hamstrung by injuries. Still it has not only the worst overall winning percentage of any team in the top 25 (.549) but the second to worst against non top-25 teams. Now, of course you can look at that two ways: 1) The Bulldogs are overrated. 2) The Bulldogs have room for improvement
* The same two points can be made for No. 17 Georgia Tech, but I'm going to argue the Yellow Jackets are more the second line of reasoning than the first. While having the worst winning percentage versus non-top 25 teams, they have the seventh best winning percentage against top-25 opponents. In other words, Tech does play well against quality competition, but has actually "played down" to the level of their opponents in other instances. That suggests to me that there is easy room for improvement for Bruce Heppler's bunch.
* While ranked inside the top 10 at No. 8, Tennessee much actually be underrated. The Lady Vols overall winning percentage was fourth best and their record against top-25 teams was fifth best.
* Duke's victory at the NCAA Preview helped boost its national ranking (5) as well as improved its overall winning percentage and winning percentage versus top-25 teams. That the Blue Devils ranked only 14th in record versus non top-25 teams is cause for pause. In their previous tournaments they were inconsistent, allowing lesser teams to get the better of them. The question arises: did Duke just have three good days in Wilmington or are they really among the country's elite? Regardless, that the NCAA Championship is being played only a few hours from campus is a real positive for Duke.