You may have already thrown away your tournament brackets back in March, but collegiate athletic postseason tournaments aren’t going anywhere as the calendar slowly turns over to spring.
As the temperatures rise, so do the stakes and implications of the LSU men’s and women’s golf teams as they each prepare for their respective Southeastern Conference tournaments.
So you’re probably aware by now that the SEC holds an end of the regular season tournament for just about every team sport, but what about postseason play beyond that for men’s and women’s collegiate golf?
How does the selection process work? Who decides what teams play who and where? How are teams seeded and what metrics are they looking at to determine that?
Well for starters, just like in college basketball, there are selection committees that exist and whose job it is to determine what regional tournaments will look like following the results of conference tournaments.
In spirit of the survive and advance attitude, getting hot at just the right moment around this time of year can make a world of difference for seeding in the postseason tournament selection process.
You can almost throw the rankings out the window, as any team who is able to win their respective conference tournament actually guarantees themselves an automatic spot in a regional, regardless of their team’s ranking or prior regular season results.
Not winning the conference tournament isn’t always the final nail in the coffin to a team’s season either, as these selection committees of golf experts do in fact look at a team’s entire body of work over the course of a regular season to help determine who advances.
The teams who are fortunate enough to be chosen to advance in the NCAA Men’s Division I Championship field and are then sent to one of six regional sites to compete.
In most cases, the top-ranked six teams are given a national seed, which awards them a chance to host a regional on their home course.
If you thought March Madness and college hoops had the most teams competing in a tournament, you thought wrong. Men’s Division I golf boasts as many as 81 separate teams vying to win a championship.
And that’s not even including the individuals who are also playing in the tournament whose college teams weren’t able to qualify and advance.
The five teams with the lowest scores from each of the six regional sites will advance to the next round that consists of 30 teams. These 30 teams then play a total of 54 holes to widdle the list down to 15 teams, and so on until they get down to the final eight teams.
The eight teams who have made it this far then take part in a playoff-style of golf that runs in what NCAA calls a “shotgun” format, which is standard now for championship rounds. This shotgun format consists of each team playing five different holes on the course.
The NCAA Women’s Division I Championship process operates under the very same guidelines and principles as Men’s Division I golf. The only difference is the total number of teams that play in the championship tournament field.
Teams and regionals are still chosen by a selection committee that reviews their regular season and conference tournament results.
The final and somewhat recent change that has since been implemented in both the Men’s and Women’s Division I Championship is how the rounds are actually scored and counted now.
Traditionally for most tournaments, golf team scores are calculated on a stroke basis or “stroke play,” where the team that combines the fewest number of strokes to finish a round of golf wins.
For the Division I level of this final playoff format, they operate under the “match play” competition style of scoring. This is where teams go head-to-head over a pre-set number of holes, and the team that scores the best on that hole is awarded usually one point.
Finally with the five determined holes, the two remaining teams then face off, and whichever team has been awarded the most points after the five holes is crowned the National Champion.
The LSU men’s and women’s golf teams still have a lot left to play for as they approach their postseason, but they’ll each have to be playing their best golf going forward to avoid the always unpredictable tournament madness.