The question apparently is making the rounds: Is college golf hurting US competitiveness in the sport?
In an article on Jacksonville dot Com, writer Garry Smits offers the following observation:
College golf, especially for American male players, has come under assault.
Hank Haney, Tiger Woods’ current swing guru, wrote an article for Golf Digest earlier this year and asked the question: “If you want to be the best golfer in the world, why would you go to college?”
Jack Nicklaus, observing the recent defeats suffered by the U.S. in the Ryder Cup, said last fall that college golf is partly to blame, because the usual format of starting five players and scoring the low four rounds, “isn’t teaching kids how to win.”
And while Haney blames college golf for the fact that only one American in his 20s is among the top 50 on the World Golf Rankings (at the time of his article, it was Lucas Glover – now, Charles Howell III is the only such example), LPGA players who bypassed college are enjoying great success.
The thought is that the colleges do not do as good a job in training young players as national development programs in other counties, or even as well as private academies in the US.
I think that the argument is utter nonsense. Tiger went to Stanford. Phil went to Arizona State, where he was the 1990 consensus college golfer of the year. Jim Furyk, Adam Scott, Jay Haas, Fred Couples, Mark Calcavecchia, David Toms, Bubba Watson, Davis Love and Fred Funk all went to college—as did many dozens of other current and past PGA Tour players. The college experience didn’t seem to hurt any of them.
While it’s probably true that there are a few players who could or should skip college, the vast majority of college golfers are not going to play on the PGA Tour —any more than the vast majority of college football players will make the NFL. In fact, the PGA Tour is inarguably an even tougher nut to crack than the NFL or the NBA. There are only 30 new spots available each year through Q School, and a good many of those are going to go to existing players. There are more opportunities available on the Nationwide Tour, but not enough to accommodate even a third of the top college players.
No, most of those players are going to need degrees—and golf is their meal ticket through college. Lets not discourage them. Even the more sure-fire prospect has in the past come up well short in Q- School. Remember Ty Tyron? He could have used a bit of College golf.