After the COVID-19 pandemic derailed the 2019-20 season, college golfers across the nation were back in action this spring as the amateur golf calendar got back on schedule.
Like the rest of college athletics, the biggest storylines for college golf centered around the NCAA’s new name, image and likeness rules – particularly how Barstool Sports has operated – as well as the NCAA Transfer Portal. Oh, and don’t forget the NCAA Regional that was decided without a single shot being hit.
As we continue the countdown to 2022 by offering up a snapshot of our best stories from the year, take a scroll through some of the biggest stories from the world of college golf in 2021.
10. Ole Miss women’s golf claims school’s first recognized NCAA Championship
Ron “Goldie” McClendon wanted to get in the trophy picture with the Ole Miss women’s golf team, the newly crowned national champions.
“We couldn’t do it,” he said, referring to his football days at Ole Miss with quarterback Eli Manning.
McClendon married Jade Polonich, a golfer and volleyball player at Ole Miss, and the couple brought their 7-year-old twins Tayo and Niko out to watch the Rebels shatter a ceiling that no other team – male or female – ever has at Ole Miss: win a national championship.
9. NCAA Men’s Regionals: Florida State goes low at home, Clemson and Oklahoma struggle
The championship season for men’s college golf took place at six locations across the country.
The top five teams (30 total) and the low individual (six total) not on a qualifying team from each regional advanced to the NCAA Div. I Men’s Championship at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.
8. College golf recruiting: Division I verbal commitment list
Schools compete in both the fall and spring seasons, and as soon as the NCAA Championship concludes in May, players spend their summers playing in amateur events nationwide and their coaches are out hitting the recruiting trail.
7. Golfweek’s 2020-21 men’s college golf All-Americans
A favorite to win all year long, the Pepperdine Waves won their second national title in program history – and first in the match-play era – after defeating 2017 national champion Oklahoma at the 2020-21 NCAA Championship.
The COVID-19 pandemic still had an impact on the season, but individual postseason awards were still passed out.
6. Amy Bockerstette to make golf history once again at NJCAA national championships
Three years ago, Amy Bockerstette made history when she signed with Paradise Valley Community College to play college golf.
She broke new ground again in 2021, as Bockerstette became the first athlete with Down syndrome to compete in a national collegiate athletic championship.
Bockerstette, 22, was with her Paradise Valley teammates at the National Junior College Athletic Association national championships in May at the Plantation Bay Golf & Country Club in Ormond Beach, Florida.
5. Division III school mourns the sudden death of 20-year-old golfer Lauren Yankee
Lauren Yankee bought a motorcycle during the pandemic lockdown. Mom said she got that bug from her father, and she worried every time Lauren left the house. Looking back now, Cari Yankee’s heart swells at the memory of how happy that bike made her eldest daughter, how she’d come back beaming from a long ride in the Michigan countryside.
Lauren always did have an adventurous, fearless spirit. She loved to rock climb and ride dirt bikes and hike with friends.
On Dec. 29, while on a trip down to Florida with her high school sweetheart, Lauren stopped breathing in a Valdosta, Georgia, hotel room. Boyfriend Travis Durant called 9-1-1 and started doing chest compressions.
4. Unflappable Maryland golfer goes on birdie spree after push cart rolls into lake during college event
The par-3 second hole on the Dye Course at the Country Club of Landfall is surrounded by water on three sides. Maryland’s Karla Elena Vázquez Setzer knocked her tee shot to 10 feet in winds that were gusting over 35 mph, yet still managed to find the hazard.
As Vázquez Setzer putted out for par during Round 1 of the Landfall Tradition in Wilmington, North Carolina, her push cart – parked on a flat surface roughly 25 yards from the water – went barreling toward Dye Lake.
By the time Vázquez Setzer made it to her golf bag, it was fully submerged. Thankfully, quick-thinking volunteers grabbed rakes from a nearby bunker and held onto the wheels to keep the cart from fully sinking.
Head coach Kelly Hovland’s first thought was that she’d have to try to fish out enough clubs for Vázquez Setzer to be able to carry on. The freshman was, after all, putting together one of the Terps’ best rounds.
3. NCAA Baton Rouge Regional controversially scrapped without one single shot hit
As the tournament committee made its way down the steps at LSU’s University Club, Houston coach Gerrod Chadwell started to shake. Could it be that for a second year in a row, his team’s season would end with a parking lot conversation without hitting a golf shot?
“Look, this is one of the most gut-wrenching decisions and announcements that I’ve ever been a part of,” said NCAA Committee representative Brad Hurlbut, the Director of Athletics at Fairleigh Dickinson at the time.
2. A growing army of Barstool Athletes includes a handful of college golfers. But what does it all mean?
In college athletics, July 1 marked the start of something of a free-for-all. In a monumental shift for the NCAA, athletes can now begin to accept endorsements for the use of their name, image and likeness while still competing for their university.
So what now? Well, the landscape remains a little uncertain – and for golfers, at least, a little bit complicated. While the USGA opened a month-long feedback period in an effort to update their Rules of Amateur Status in February (the USGA has since simplified its definition of amateurism), the new Rules were not scheduled to be adopted until Jan. 1, 2022.
In the meantime, Barstool Sports is doing what it does best: meeting the new NIL landscape with open arms. And college golf is very much included.
1. College golf facilities
There’s been an arms race of sorts brewing in college athletics, especially over the last two decades.