__LAS VEGAS--__One of the highlights of the National Golf Coaches Association's annual convention is the Hall of Fame banquet, where the NGCA recognizes an elite group of people for there impact on the women's collegiate game (the Class of 2009 was Karen Bahnsen, Shauna Estes-Taylor and Wendy Ward; for a complete list of past honorees, click here). It's a special night for the individuals, but also for the rest of the coaches at the convention to be able to appreciate those that have come before them.
What I find particularly neat is the fact that not only are coaches included in the NGCA HofF but standout players as well. It's something that the NGCA's counterpart on the men's side, the Golf Coaches Association of America, does not do ... but really should consider for the future. There had been talk as recently as a few years ago about starting a "players wing," but the usually progressive association never took action.
The idea of recognizing the top men's college players of the past got me thinking: just who might be deserving enough to be part of the inaugural class? Let me tell you, it's a harder task than you might think. There are plenty of individuals that accomplished much while in school, but who has been such an elite college golfer as to deserve being a "charter member" of this club?
To make the prestige factor of this initial class even greater (or perhaps just to make the picking the class all the more challenging), the number of inductees should be limited the first year ... I chose to confine my selections to 24 (still a big number but small enough to make this group pretty distinct). In taking my stab at who I'd include in this first go around, I went through media guides and online records to get a relatively broad selection of players through the years. I attempted as best I could not to be influenced by players' pro performances ... this is a "college golf" hall of fame. That said, a few of my picks went on to pretty decent careers on the PGA Tour.
Where I might come up short is players from the early eras of college golf (1900s-1950s), where the number of schools competing was minimal and quality of competition was inconsistent. That said, maybe I missed other candidates from the more modern eras of play. I'm interested in getting your feedback ... please don't be afraid to offer your comments on this.
Here goes, then, in alphabetically order:
Rex Baxter, Houston (1955-57)
'57 NCAA medalist; led Cougars to 2 NCAA team titles
Bobby Clampett, BYU (1977-80)
3-time 1st team AA; 2-time Haskins winner
Dick Crawford, Houston (1959-61)
2-time NCAA champ
Ben Crenshaw, Texas (1970-73)
3-time NCAA medalist; 3 Haskins POY awards
David Duval, Georgia Tech (1989-93)
4-time 1st team All American; '93 Haskins winner; two ACC titles
Keith Fergus, Houston (1973-76)
19 career wins (school record), including 2 SWC titles; 3-time 1st team AA
Gary Hallberg, Wake Forest (1976-80)
First 4-time 1st team AA; 9 career wins
Justin Leonard, Texas (1990-94)
'92 NCAA champ; only player to win conference title 4 times (SWC)
Phil Mickelson, Arizona State (1988-92)
3-time NCAA medalist; 16 overall wins; 43 top-10s in 51 events; 70.81 career avg.
Lindy Miller, Oklahoma State (1974-78)
11 career wins including 3 Big 8 titles; 16 consecutive top-10s; 71.95 avg.
Bryce Molder, Georgia Tech (1997-2001)
4-time 1st team AA; 3 ACC POYs; 70.69 avg is NCAA career best
Jack Nicklaus, Ohio State (1960-61)
'61 NCAA and Big Ten champ
Arnold Palmer, Wake Forest (1948-50, 1954)
2-time Southern Conf. champ; first ACC medalist in '54
Corey Pavin, UCLA (1978-82)
11 career wins; NCAA POY in '82; 2-time Pac-10 POY
Chris Perry, Ohio State (1980-84)
13 career wins; 3-time 1st team AA
Sam Randolph, USC (1982-86)
'86 Haskins winner; 3-time 1st-team AA
Scott Simpson, USC (1973-77)
2-time NCAA champ; '77 Haskins winner; 2-time Pac-10 POY
Curtis Strange, Wake Forest (1972-76)
8 career wins; 3-time 1st team AA; 71.17 avg. at NCAAs
Scott Verplank, Oklahoma State (1982-86)
3-time 1st team AA; '86 NCAA medalist and Haskins winner
Fred Wampler, Purdue (1947-50)
'50 NCAA champ; 3-time Big Ten champ; still shares school 18-hole mark (63)
Harvie Ward, North Carolina
'49 NCAA champ
Ed White, Texas (1933-35)
'35 NCAA champ; 3-time SWC winner
Tiger Woods, Stanford (1994-96)
'96 NCAA champ and POY; set NCAA single season avg. record
Charlie Yates, Georgia Tech (1931-34)
'34 NCAA champ