The first half of the 2020-21 college golf season was a mixed bag of COVID-19 workarounds. Some teams, and some whole conferences, didn’t play. Others played within conference only and some teams were left to scramble for whatever tournament starts they could get.
The SEC’s proposed parameters for the spring season, of which Golfweek obtained a copy, provides a glimpse into what the second half of the season could look like. SEC men’s and women’s teams will be limited to tournaments within the SEC footprint (tournaments that occur in a state in which a conference institution is located) and will also be limited to 15 competition dates in the spring. The SEC Championship is not included in the 15 regular-season dates.
No SEC school can begin competition until mid-February.
SEC schools will host four men’s events and four women’s events in the spring, but unlike in the fall, SEC schools aren’t limited solely to SEC-hosted events (think of that conference schedule as a safety net) and cross-conference play will be allowed. Non-SEC teams will be allowed to compete in SEC events provided they meet SEC testing protocols, and SEC teams can compete in non-conference events where the testing protocols match SEC protocols.
Cross-conference competition will be a big factor in the spring, considering that every time an SEC team competes against a non-conference team, it introduces more head-to-head match-ups, thus improving the integrity of the Golfstat rankings and the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.
Spring competition dates and postseason selection were major topics of conversation at breakout sessions for coaches last week during a two-week virtual coaches convention hosted by the Golf Coaches Association of America and the Women’s Golf Coaches Association of America.
In Division I men’s and women’s golf, the required number of events to make a team eligible for postseason has been reduced from eight to four. Eight 18-hole rounds are required.
In the SEC, conference parameters effectively prohibit SEC teams from competing west of Texas and Missouri – for example, in major televised events like the Southern Highlands on the men’s side. That’s significant considering that the NCAA Championship will be played at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.