Rights holders putting on collegiate golf tournaments may find their events gaining a whole new level of importance. At least one report shows the best college golfers could be guaranteed status on one of several tours, ranging from the PGA TOUR to the PGA TOUR China.
The report, printed in Golfweek, noted the program is not yet in effect, however, and is part of a long-term process. Officials with the PGA TOUR initially approached the Golf Coaches Association of America about a partnership roughly a decade ago, and the dialogue has been on and off to varying degrees since. At the moment, no launch date has been set.
Still, it’s quite a game-changer.
Golfweek quoted a statement from the PGA: "The PGA TOUR has been working to develop a new program that will identify, prepare and transition top collegiate golfers to professional golf. This program will be designed to reward season-long collegiate play with varying levels of playing access to tours operated under the PGA TOUR umbrella, while upholding the principles and virtues of collegiate athletics. The PGA TOUR is working in collaboration with its players, Policy Board and various other stakeholders to design a mutually beneficial platform."
Many questions need to be answered before the system launches. They include how the Tour will measure and prioritize season-long performance for top-ranked collegiate players who do not all play the same schedule. Complicating this further is the fact that college golf is played not just at the NCAA level but at the NJCAA, NCCAA and NAIA levels (as well as others) and at the intramural and club level, where organizations such as the National Collegiate Club Golf Association are offering tournaments throughout the school year.
It is, however, undoubtedly the NCAA on whom most of the attention falls in this endeavor. The NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Golf Committees will host its 2019 Division I Men’s and Women’s Golf Championships at the Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona will be the site of the 2020, 2021 and 2022 championships.
NCAA did not respond to SDM's request for comment on the issue.
One of the benefits of the system is not convincing promising amateurs to make the choice between finishing their education and turning pro. According to GolfWorld, while this is not necessarily an issue in men's golf, a number of women players have had to choose between beginning their professional careers in the middle of the college seasons due to the dates of LPGA Q school, now known as LPGA Q Series. The frequency became amplified to the point the LPGA now allows deferred status to those who qualify.
In addition, the combination of being able to compete at the highest level and to continue one’s education can be a lure to promising high school athletes to continue in the game and to seek out schools with golf teams.
"This program will be designed to reward season-long collegiate play with varying levels of playing access to tours operated under the PGA TOUR umbrella while upholding the principles and virtues of college athletics,” the Tour said in a statement, according to the Golf Channel.
Event owners and rights holders of collegiate tournaments will surely find more marketability and value inherent in their competitions, just as schools may see more interest in their golf programs.
SDM will continue to follow this developing issue.