The history of Golf in America is rich, thanks to the professional and amateur championships. They have provided fans with a great pastime for over the years. However, the games would not have transcended, at least not to the monumental success it is today, without the contribution of intercollegiate golf tournaments.
History of Golf in The United States
Today, golf in the United States is played by about 8% of the population, which translates to 25 million people. Unknown to many, golf is millennia old, with players from Caesar’s reign to today’s Phil Michelson and Rory Mcllroy. The game was played first in the late 1500s, as recorded by Gerrit de Veer, part of the crew of Willem Barentsz.
The game resurfaces again in December 1650, where the settlers of Fort Orange (near modern-day Albany, New York) played the first-ever recorded golf round in America. The first 18-hole golf course in the US was built in 1893, the Chicago Golf Club of Wheaton, Illinois. The game’s first governing body was the United States Golf Association (USGA), which started in 1894, and today’s Professional Golf Association of America was founded in 1916.
When Did Colleges Start Golfing Programs?
Colleges in the United States have been famous for years for offering not only remarkable education but highly competitive sports. Tertiary education and sports started as early as 1636, when the first college, Harvard, was formed. Golf was first played and won in 1897 at Yale University. College golf has now grown, with notable names such as Tiger Woods, winner of the 1996 NCAA D1 golf individual championship as a Stanford Cardinal, and three-time champion Ben Crenshaw thriving through the college sport.
A total of 1203 colleges sponsor men’s golf teams and 801 support women’s golf roster sports. Most colleges with golf in their sporting programs have full-time and assistant coaches, plus comprehensive budgets to cover expenses such as travel, equipment, and clothing. These colleges also have a substantial amount set aside for scholarships for selected team members including tuition, room and board, and allowances for other expenses. These teams have a daily practice, specific weekly strength and fitness routines, and intercollegiate competition schedules with 10-15 tournaments annually.
The NCAA oversees all collegiate sports including golf, where the first men’s championship it sponsored being in 1939 and a women’s championship being in 1982. NCAA teams are often the nation’s finest, with these being at the D1 level, while NAIA golf squads coming in at D2 and D3 levels.
Which Colleges Are Most Famous for Their Golf Teams?
Oklahoma State University
Having had only three coaches in its 64-year history, the Oklahoma State program is one of the most popular. The Cowboys have claimed 10 national championships, 16 runner-up finishes, and has come up over 50 times in the top 5 rankings.
OSU has also produced 8 NCAA individual champions. Legend Labron Harris was the coach from 1947 to 1973, and Mike Holder became coach right after Labron, heading the team for 33 years. Some of OSU’s most notable alumni include Michael Bradley, Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan, and Kris Cox.
The Stanford Cardinals team has gone on to win 8 national championships, with its players winning 24 major professional major championships, a number not achieved by any other team. The All-Americans started being recognized in 1958, and 67 All-American seasons were by Stanford players. Tens of today’s pro golfers are alumni of Stanford University, including Tiger Woods, Casey Martin, Tom Watson, and Michelle Wie.
University of North Carolina
UNC’s Tarheels program started in 1928, and the team has gone on to win 11 ACC crowns. The team also has 29 All Americans. Individual holders have won 95 championships. Its notable alumni include Harvie Ward (1949) and John Inman (1984) who are NCAA individual champions.
University of Georgia
The team’s mascot is the Uga (Live English Bulldog). The Bulldogs have participated in 17 NCAAs between 1971-1996, which include ten top-10s and 7 SEC titles. Howell Hollis, who served as coach from 1946 to 1970, led the Bulldogs to 10 individual conference championship titles and 12 Southeastern Conference Titles.
George Hamer, affectionately known as the Georgia Pine, is the only Bulldog to ever win the NCAA title. Coach Dick Copas won the 1978 Coach of the Year award, with 31 of his protégés being tabbed as All-Americans. Among this school’s most notable alumni are Bubba Watson, Chris Kirk, Vicky Goetze, and Erik Compton.
Arizona State University
The ASU team mascot is Sparky the Sun Devil, and since the team joined 1978’s PAC-10, no other team has won as many titles as they have. The Sun Devils have claimed two NCAA team titles, six NCAA individual titles, and 3 US amateur titles.
Among PAC-12 titles, they hold a six-year consecutive record (1995-2000). The Sun Devils have 6 regional championships in their trophy collection and are tie at the third-best position in the NCAA. Its most popular alumni include Phil Michelson, Bill Mayfair, Anna Nordqvist, and Paul Casey.
Duke University is more popular for its women team’s excellence. The Blue Devils have a rich history, having had its first ACC win in 1984, and gone on to win 7 more. This team has also won six NCAA championships. Duke’s most popular alumni include Brittany Lang, Art Wall Jr, Amanda, Blumenherst, and Liz Janangelo.
College Golf in America has come a long way, having made a path for today’s most popular athletes. The sports organizers and regulators will go the extra mile to provide an avenue for players and entertainment for fans for years to come. If you need equipment for school golf programs, contact the experts at Rawhide Golf for assistance.