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A report from NCCGA spring nationals

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This past weekend in West Lafayette, Indiana, at the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex, the National Collegiate College Golf Association (NCCGA) hosted their spring nationals, which is the largest college golf tournament in the country.

The championship featured over 300 players from 39 teams and 22 individuals from a combined 55 schools, representing 29 states. According to Kris Hart, Senior Director of Nexgengolf, “Purdue is a unique and special venue because of the quality of the course, as well as the history; our 2013 (and my first championship) was hosted here.”

Coordinating a championship for over 300 players takes a lot of work and a fantastic staff. To remind readers, unlike NCAA golf, the format in NCCGA is eight count five (eight players per team compete with the low five rounds counting towards a team score). Readers should also know club golf is not intramurals and these student-athletes are pretty darn good. Students like Joey Jordan from Virginia Tech have walked on to their varsity golf team due to their strong club golf performance.

Heading into the tournament, the best-ranked team participating was from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, with a scoring average of 72.9 followed by Arizona State (73.85 average), Florida (74.26 Average), Providence (73.55 average) and Arkansas (75.45 average) rounding out the top 5. Like the NCAA, the tournament also features an individual competition. The top five players in the NCCGA this spring include:

PLAYER NAME TEAM NAME AVG SCORE PER ROUND AVG DIFF PER ROUND 
Brandon Resnick UNLV 67.5 -3.92
Anthony Banks University of Arizona 69 -2.69
Nick Bavaro DePaul University (B) 69.5 -2.48
Timothy Davis The University of Tennessee 69.5 -1.47
Charles Kim University of Arkansas (A) 71.5 -1.03

The action at Nationals did not disappoint as Clemson University came back from a first-round deficit to edge out the University of Notre Dame by four shots (team scores of 750 and 754 respectively). Even with the tough Saturday weather conditions, Andrew Stineman of Notre Dame was still able to fire an impressive two-day score of one under par (68-75 – 143) to take home medalist honors. Payte Owen from the University of Oklahoma made it interesting on day two, but fell short by one, carding an even-par 144.

Prior to Nationals, the parent company of NCCGA, Nextgengolf announced its acquisition by the Professional Golfers Association of America (PGA).

According to Arjun Chowdri from the PGA of America, “Nextgengolf provides authentic experiences that speak to the next generation of golfers.”

This partnership demands attention because it speaks volume about the future of college golf and opportunities for boys and girls to play in college. The NCCGA provides a unique opportunity for players who might otherwise not maturate to varsity college golf to continue playing the game they love. With the PGA and 29,000 golf professionals helping grow college golf, I am eager to watch the next chapter for college golf unfold and am confident it is going to be pretty special.

To learn more about the history of club golf and some further data behind the story, check out my article I wrote back in February 2018 titled, Why you should consider playing club golf in college.

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Brendan Ryan, an entrepreneur and scientist, is a passionate golfer who loves his local muni. Armed with a keen interest in the game, a large network of friends in the industry, Brendan works to find and produce unique content for GolfWRX.

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5 Things We Learned: Friday at the Masters

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You don’t see leaves on the ground at Augusta National. The grounds crew and superintendent’s staff take care of those sorts of things, so that both course appearance and consistency of play are preserved at the top tier. We saw leaves on the ground today and, given the force and perseverance of the wind, we’re lucky that we didn’t see tree trunks along the fairways. We did see higher scores than secured in round one, and some of the three- and four-hole stretches were downright inconceivable. The cut after 36 holes came at six over par, and five dozen golfers reached the weekend of play. Numbers always define the story of a tournament, and we’ll let them define the five things we learned on day two of the 2024 Masters tournament.

One: 60 + 10

Sixty golfers posted scores of 148 or better through 36 holes, to reach weekend play. Ten more golfers posted 149 and missed the cut by a single stroke. The ones who missed the cut by a stroke included former champions Mike Weir, Zach Johnson, and Sergio Garcia. Also among the brood were current US Open champion Wyndham Clark, and Nick Dunlap, who won on the PGA Tour as an amateur in January, and subsequently turned professional. Of the ones who survived by the slimmest of margins, surviving to the weekend were former champions Jose Maria Olazabal, Hideki Matsuyama, and Adam Scott, along with Rickie Fowler and Tom Kim. Golf’s cut is a cruel and unconcerned blade, and each Masters tournament reminds us of this fact.

Two: One

The number of amateurs to make the cut in the 2024 Masters is solitary. His name is Neil Shipley, and most folks love him. He wears his hair to the shoulder, and appears to have the proper balance of intensity and chill. Shipley opened with 71, then held on for 76 on day two. He made the cut by three shots, and will collect his share of hardware on Sunday. It’s safe to say that Shipley will turn his attention to learning the course, as well as his own self under pressure.

Three: 23

For most sorts fans, 23 recalls the greatest NBA player of all time, Michael Jordan. For Justin Thomas, it’s a number that will haunt him for a long time. Thomas reached tee number fifteen on Friday at even par. The two-time PGA Champion played the subsequent, four-hole stretch in 23 shots, missing the cut by a shot. On fifteen, he went for the green in two, in some sort of halfhearted manner. He got wet with shot number two, went long with his pitch, and three-putted from the fringe. On sixteen, he played away from safety and found elevated sand. His blast went down the hill, and he missed his approach putt in the wrong place. On seventeen, he missed his drive right and his approach long, and lost another shot to par. The coup de grace took place on the home hole: drive so horribly left that he had to pitch out to the fairway and hit three metal into the green. His third double bogey in four holes dropped him all the way to 151 and plus seven. Among the many questions, the foremost one was why he dropped his longtime caddy on the eve of a major championship. Surely Bones would have saved him one of those shots, and perhaps more.

Four: Forty-Nine divided by five or six

Tiger Woods cannot possibly win title number six at Augusta in his 49th year, can he? Not on this broken body, and not from seven strokes behind, right? Not with so few competitive rounds over the most recent months, and not one year removed from a third-round withdrawal from this very tournament. Well, if he cannnot possibly win, allow us to dream and hope a bit, and hold on to a fantasy.

Five: 3 that we like

We like Scottie Scheffler, of course. He seems to have a sense of Augusta National, and he was able to hold on in 2023 for the championship. We like Nikolai Hojgaard, because he might have just the proper combination of naivete and experience for a first-time winner. Finally, we like Collin Morikawa, a winner of two separate major titles. Winning at Augusta National requires a certain amount of length, unless you putt lights out. Morikawa might be embedded in one of those putting weeks.

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5 things we learned: Thursday at the Masters

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The rains came early at Augusta, just as they did in Buffalo. The distinguishing factor was, they had a tournament to start in Augusta. Folks in Buffalo simply went to work, and paid attention to the clouds in north Georgia. By ten o’clock, the skies had cleared enough to begin play. Honorary tee shots were hit, and competitive play began. The delay assured that some of the afternoon groups would not sign scorecards on Thursday evening. Instead, they would rise early for completion of play, then turn right back around and go out for round two.

Round one was filled with the usual characteristics of major championship golf. A pair of golfers shot low rounds, with no guarantee that either would be able to preserve the blistering pace. Others gave shots inexplicably away, on the most confounding of holes, to push themselves away from the dream of the green jacket. Others played solid if unspectacular golf, to maintain the top of the board in sight. Finally, some held to a preserver for dear life, finding a way to stay within shouting distance of the leaders.

With that little bit of tease to lead us in, let’s get straight to the five things that we learned on Thursday at the Masters.

One: Can a horse be a horse for a course, for more than one round?

Both Bryson DeChambeau and Scottie Scheffler have plenty of successful memories ’round the Augusta National course. Scheffle owns the ultimate prize, the 2022 green jacket, while DeChambeau was low amateur in 2016. That’s where the similarities end, however. DeChambeau has never finished higher than that low-am T21, while Scheffler has never finished outside the top 20 in four starts. DeChambeau has had fits of brilliance over the MacKenzie hills, but Scheffler is the one with four-round history.

While it seems unlikely the DeChambeau will miss the cut for a third consecutive time, the question of his ability to put rounds together remains. On Thursday, DeChambeau notched eight birdies on the day, and stumbled for bogey just once, at the ninth hole. For much of the day, he held a multi-shot lead over former champion Danny Willett, until Scheffler finished fast, with birdies at 12, 13, 15, and 16. His 66 brought him within one shot of the leader. Scheffler went without a bogey on the day, and ensured that DeChambeau would have much to consider over the night’s sleep.

Two: Find a way to hang around

Rory McIlroy never looked like he had his best stuff on Thursday. Three bogeys on the day, including one at the gettable second hole, had him steaming. Unlike prior years, when his not-best stuff led to mid-70s numbers, Roars was able to four birdies along the way. His 71 won’t win any crystal, but it will keep him in the tournament. Does he need a 67 on Friday? Absolutely.

Will Zalatoris plays Augusta National as well as anyone. Eagles and birdies are always on the table for the young Texan. He reached four-under par at the 15th, but closed with two bogies for 70. Without the shot that you see below, he may never have found the mojo needed to reach minus-four. Moral of the story: find a way to get in the house with a number.

Three: When you do things like this, find a way to keep it together!

The leaders’ board was filled with golfers like Ryan Fox (five-under through 12, inexplicable bogey at 13, finished minus-three), Erik Van Rooyen (minus-four through 13, only to close with three bogeys to finish one deep) Viktor Hovland (four below through nine, double at ten, one below at day’s end) and Matt Fitzpatrick (four deep through 13, three bogeys coming home.) What keeps these golfers from going deeper under par, or at least preserving their successful stature? It’s usually greed or the razor’s edge. There are too-safe places on the greens of Augusta, but there are always properly-safe areas, from where a two-putt is a probablility. In the case of most of these golfers, they either went at flags and short-sided themselves (leading to bogey) or tried to preserve their position, and landed in the three-putt zone.

Four: How could you do this?

Rickie Fowler  at 76, alongside Hideki Matsuyama. Guys, there were plenty of birdies out there! How could you manage to avoid them, and instead, stockpile the bogeys? Well, at least Hideki has a green jacket already, and at least Rickie has some crystal from Wednesday. Odds are that one of them will post 68 on Friday and make the cut.

Five: Which golfers do we hope to see finish strong?

With plenty of round-one action left for Friday morning, we’ve scanned the board and determined that Nicolai Højgaard looks pretty good at five-under through fifteen. We’ll take three pars. We expect one birdie. We’d love to see two or three birdies coming home. Yup, we’re greedy!

Max Homa bounced back from bogey at 12 with birdie at 13, to get back to four under par. We have the same expectations for the California kid: lots of birdies coming home. We have our eyes on a couple of guys at minus-one, and then there’s Tyrrell Hatton at three-deep, along with Ludvig Åberg at minus-two. Plenty of golf left for first-round positioning. Set your alarm for early and don’t miss a single shot!

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Morning 9: Tiger’s Monday practice round | Brooks, Sergio switch putters | Masters eclipse glasses

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco.

For comments: [email protected]

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans, as we gear up for the 2024 Masters!

1. Tiger’s Monday practice round

Will Cheney for the Augusta Chronicle…”The early reports from Tiger Woods’ Monday practice round at Augusta National Golf Club were good.”

  • “The five-time Masters Tournament champion landed in Augusta on Sunday afternoon and played a Monday morning practice round with Will Zalatoris. Woods withdrew from the 2023 Masters after making the cut, due to a plantar fasciitis flare up.”
  • “He played great today,” Zalatoris said. “He outdrove me a couple times so there was some chirping going on. So, you know, he looks great. He’s moving as well as he can be. Again, with everything he’s gone through, it’s pretty amazing to see how good he’s swinging it.”
Full piece.

2. Langer delays Masters farewell

ESPN report…”Two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer, whose hopes to play the major for a final time were cruelly dashed after suffering a torn Achilles in February, on Monday said that he’ll instead try to bid farewell as a participant at Augusta National in 2025.”

  • “Most likely,” Langer, 66, told Reuters when asked if the 2025 edition would be his final Masters start. “I hope so, but it all depends how the recovery is going.”
  • “The German player tore his Achilles while playing pickleball and is forced to miss significant time. He said his recovery is trending in the right direction and that he has not had any setbacks.”
Full piece.

3. Rahm: LIV events should be 72 holes

Golf Digest’s Ryan Herrington…”It was to be a sticking point for Jon Rahm as he mulled whether to make the jump from the PGA Tour to the LIV Golf League late last year. In the end, the fact that LIV events were just 54 holes, and included shotgun starts, didn’t keep the Masters champion from making the move and signing a reported $350 million deal with the upstart circuit, but it’s something he hopes might still change in the future.”

  • “I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but I definitely wouldn’t mind going back to 72 holes,” Rahm said in an interview with the BBC ahead of his title defense at Augusta National.
Full piece.

4. Sergio, Brooks make putter switches

Our Matt Vincenzi…“Brooks Koepka, who’s used a Scotty Cameron Teryllium Tour Newport 2 for the past handful of years, had what looked to be a Scotty Cameron Phantom X 5.5 in the bag this week at LIV Doral.”

  • “Koepka has been struggling on the greens this season, but it’s still a bit of a surprise to see him switch to a mallet-style putter so close to the season’s first major.”
  • “Koepka finished with -4.4 strokes gained with his new Phantom following a tough week in Miami.”
  • “With the poor performance on the greens at Doral, it’s worth monitoring whether or not he switches back to his traditional Scottie Cameron at Augusta.”
  • “Sergio Garcia, who lost out in a playoff at LIV Doral, also made a notable putter switch last week.”
  • “The Spaniard asked Scotty Cameron to refurbish the 1999 Scotty Cameron Del Mar Prototype he used as a rookie on the PGA Tour. Garcia used the putter when he went head-to-head with Tiger Woods in the 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah as a 19-year-old. He also used the putter in his first Ryder Cup.”
Full piece.

5. Zalatoris returns to Masters a year after back surgery

Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…”Will Zalatoris’ mom sent him a text Monday morning to remind him how far he’s come over the past 12 months.”

  • “It was the one-year anniversary of when he underwent back surgery.”
  • “Another reminder came just a few hours later, when Zalatoris linked up with Tiger Woods to play the second nine at Augusta National.”
  • “Over the past several months they’ve been swapping war stories about the microdiscectomy procedures and their different recoveries. It’s been comforting to Zalatoris not just to know that he’s not alone, but to understand the value of patience and his own process.”
  • “It’s always special to be here,” he said, “but obviously given the last year that I’ve had this was a very special day.”
Full piece.

6. GolfWRX’s resident statistician on who can win the Masters

Our Rich Hunt…”Since 2013, I have created a filtering process to help determine the players who are most likely to win the green jacket based on criteria that have strongly predictive outcomes to success at Augusta. The list of players that can win at Augusta is usually filtered down to 20-24 players and in that time I have correctly shortlisted every Masters champion.”

  • “This includes last year’s winner, Jon Rahm. Even though Rahm essentially walked away with the green jack and did not make it very close, there were some close calls on top of the leaderboard as I had filtered out Phil Mickelson (t-2nd) and Patrick Reed (t-4th) as the LIV Tour is still behind on providing advanced analytics for their tour. Russell Henley was also filtered out and finished t-4th, five strokes from Rahm’s winning score of 276.”
  • “If you’re watching at home, the “critical holes” that will likely determine the top finishers will be holes No. 7, 8, 11 and 13. The 11th hole is projected to be the most critical of holes as over the past five Masters the top players have gained nearly a 1.5 strokes for the tournament on that hole alone.”
  • “Just like last year’s column I will get the LIV Tour players I’ve filtered out of the way. Since LIV Tour does not provide ShotLink or Trackman data, it’s more of a guessing game as to how certain LIV Tour golfers are playing. I did utilize recent performance as well as performance at Mayakoba and Doral as they were two former PGA Tour courses that have some semblance of crossover to playing Augusta.”
Full piece.

7. Fields: Listen to the course whisperers

Bill Fields for Masters.com…”Many years after making his debut in the Masters Tournament in 1959, Jack Nicklaus had a sharp recollection of the tutorial he received that spring at Augusta National….Difficult lessons, after all, often are the most memorable.”

  • “Nicklaus was a 19-year-old amateur on the ascent, on his way to becoming one of the best golfers – the best, if measured by his ultimate major-championship tally, highlighted by a record six victories in the Masters. Yet, 65 years ago, the learning curve was steep for him. Despite his credentials, he shot 76-74–150 to miss the cut by one stroke as defending champion Arnold Palmer led at the halfway point.”
  • “I played pretty well from tee to green,” Nicklaus once recalled of that first competitive experience at Augusta National. “I hit 31 of 36 greens. But I had eight three-putt greens in 36 holes and got done and found Arnold was leading the Tournament at 140. He had hit 19 greens in regulation. I said, ‘You’d better learn how to chip and putt and understand what happens on this golf course.’ That’s what I learned.”
  • “Nicklaus, of course, isn’t alone in receiving such an education. More than two decades after the Golden Bear first turned up in northeast Georgia, another promising young golfer experienced the school of hard putts. Bernhard Langer of Germany, 24, was a three-time winner on the European Tour when he played his first Masters in 1982.”
Full Piece.

8. LIV Golf officials invited to Masters

John Turnbull for Bunkered…”It appears that defending champion Jon Rahm and his colleagues will not be the only LIV Golf representatives at The Masters this week.

  • “Despite golf’s civil war rolling on, officials of the Saudi-backed circuit have been invited to The Masters, according to reports.”
  • “The Telegraph has reported that at least one high-ranking LIV official will attend the first major championship of the year.”
  • “LIV’s chief executive Greg Norman, who was a three-times runner-up at the tournament, is not expected to show face at The Masters.”
Full Piece.

9. Masters eclipse glasses

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