Just as baseball has the Road to Omaha, college golf will soon have an end-of-season destination for its players and coaches.
The NCAA announced Tuesday that Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., will host the men’s and women’s NCAA Championships for three consecutive years, beginning in 2020.
It’s the first time in the modern era that the same course will stage multiple NCAA Championships in a row. For decades, the event has bounced around the country each year, usually rotating between the East Coast, Midwest and West Coast.
Grayhawk seemed an appealing choice for the NCAAs because of the quality of the course, the potential for primetime TV viewing and its location – yes, it’ll be hot, but with little chance of rain it represents a much-needed departure from the weather-interrupted events the past few years. The stroke-play portion of this year’s women’s event, held at Rich Harvest Farms outside Chicago, was shortened from 72 to 54 holes.
“By choosing one host location for a three-year period beginning in 2020, we will be able to maximize the operations efficiency around the championships while building marketing continuity that will continue to showcase our student-athletes, coaches and teams,” said Jim Fee, chairman of the Division I Women’s Golf Committee.
Locking in a host site for the foreseeable future also has its drawbacks, however. A team that doesn’t find the course to its liking will struggle to be relevant in the biggest tournament of the year. Said one coach of a top-10 men’s program: “I will miss the different venues and different playing conditions that were required in representing a true national championship. Omaha works fine in baseball because every baseball diamond is the same. Not golf.”
The next two NCAA venues are brutally difficult courses, Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Okla. (2018), and Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Ark. (2019). Grayhawk should prove more scoreable for both the men and women.
Said another prominent men’s coach: “Great players should crush that place.”
Here is the upcoming NCAA Championship schedule:
2018: May 18-23 (women) and May 25-30 (men), Karsten Creek
2019: May 17-22 (women) and May 24-29 (men), Blessings
2020: May 22-27 (women) and May 29-June 3 (men), Grayhawk
2021: May 21-26 (women) and May 28-June 2 (men), Grayhawk
2022: May 20-25 (women) and May 27-June 1 (men), Grayhawk