Women’s college golf avoids potential headache with additional changes to NCAA D-I Championship
The good news: The NCAA is increasing the number of college golf teams that will compete in the NCAA D-I Women’s Championship starting this May at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale.
The better news: The increase is even bigger than first expected.
In November, the NCAA Women’s D-I Golf Committee announced it had received approval to have 27 teams advance out of NCAA Regional competition to the national championship, up from 24 in previous years. On Thursday, the Committee announced that the number will actually jump to 30, matching the total teams that advance at the men’s NCAA D-I Championship.
Six individual golfers also will advance from regionals to nationals, for a overall player field of 156.
"There is significant importance in providing equitable participation opportunities for our women student-athletes," said Brad Hurlbut, director of athletics at Fairleigh Dickinson and chair of the D-I Women's Golf Committee, in a release. "We are thrilled with the announcement by the Division I Competition Oversight Committee to move to 30 teams and 156 deserving student-athletes for the upcoming 2023 championship finals."
Having 30 teams at nationals had been the goal of the Women’s Golf Committee since early last year after submitting a plan in February to the NCAA D-I Competition Oversight Committee. According to a report in Golfweek, that request was denied in June, causing Hurlbut’s committee to submit a second request that increased the number to 27, which the NCAA agreed.
While three more teams is progress, having only 27 would create a potential issue in that the number of teams that advanced out of each of the six regional qualifying tournaments would be uneven—three sites would have five teams moving on and three would have only four.
Trying to figure out which sites would get the bigger number would require the Women’s Golf Committee to construct a “strength of field” metric that could have brought with it some controversy among coaches.
In the meantime, the NCAA D-I Competition Oversight Committee reconsidered the first recommendation for 30 teams. It’s approval means that all six regionals will have the same number of teams—five—advancing to nationals.
The number of schools qualifying for the NCAA women’s postseason will remain at 72, with 12 teams playing at each regional site.
The NCAA Championship will take place for the third straight season at Grayhawk, this year being held May 19-24. The six regional sites are as follows, with play slated for May 9-11):
• Athens, Georgia - University of Georgia Golf Course
• Palm Beach Gardens, Florida – PGA National Respoort
• Pullman, Washington - Palouse Ridge Golf Club
• Raleigh, North Carolina - Lonnie Poole Golf Course
• San Antonio, Texas – TPC San Antonio
• Westfield, Indiana - The Club at Chatham Hills