How An Altered Rule Might Significantly Impact College Golf

College Golf Rule Change, image: blog.chron.com

College Golf Rule Change, image: blog.chron.com

When it comes to college sports, not all programs are created equal. However, for college golf, a potential rule change that would allow players to be substituted between rounds may end up leveling the playing field.

If you’re not an avid follower of college golf, then you may not know about a man named Ryan Hybl. Filling the role of the men’s head golf coach for the University of Oklahoma since June of 2009, Hybl has already made a name for himself as a phenomenal coach with an impeccable record by leading the once-struggling program to the NCAA Championships for the last four years straight. Now, Ryan Hybl is hoping to bring about a change to college golf that would completely alter the way college golf tournaments are played.

One Little Rule, One Big Difference

The notion that college golf teams are currently not allowed to substitute players during tournaments and matches might seem baffling to die-hard college sports fans. After all, most sports fanatics would find the idea of a basketball team being forced to play their starters for the entire game a little heinous. Football, baseball, basketball, hockey . . . every major team sports program associated with a college or university allows players to be subbed in and out at various points during games – except for college golf.

Some may argue that unlike the aforementioned team sports, golf is really about individual players, not the team. Coach Hybl couldn’t disagree more, and believes that this simple rule change could actually strengthen the team spirit of golf programs throughout the country’s schools.

“I see it as a way to change the dynamic of our sport. I look at it as a coaching opportunity and a team-building opportunity.”

Other golfers and coaches that are associated with college programs concurred with Hybl’s idea, giving the 2004 Georgia graduate confidence that serious change to the current rule is on the horizon.

The Problem With The Status Quo

The concerns that many college golf programs currently have with the substitution rule as it applies today is the fact that most athletic departments feel as if they are just one misfortune away from their golf programs ending up in the drink.

The way that this particular college golf tournament rule works is like this: Before most tournaments are set to begin, each team designates five golfers to play. When the tournament is over and all five golfers have finished their rounds, the player with the lowest score is essentially dropped so that only the four highest scores are posted.

It’s like taking a college-level class and having the lowest score dropped, so how is the current system not a positive thing?

The current rule states that if a player becomes sick or injured during a tournament and is forced to discontinue play, that the four remaining players’ scores are the only scores that can be applied. No substitutes are allowed to take the injured player’s place. Try that in college football!

Luckily, coaches like Hybl are well aware of the problems that can occur with such a rule and are working hard to change it. According to Hybl, “We’re all just one tournament away from something bad happening.”

Changing a single rule wouldn’t just eliminate the fear of one unfortunate tournament ruining a golf program’s entire season, but would also allow for more college golfers to get in more playing time out on the course. Sounds like a pretty solid rule change to us. After all, isn’t getting more people interested in and playing golf exactly what the game is all about?

Brad Pecot

Director of Marketing, Golfballs.com

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