MARICOPA, Ariz. — Last week, the inaugural National Golf Invitational came to life.
Think NIT of college golf. Every team’s goal is to make it to the NCAA Championship, but sometimes there are teams eligible for NCAA Regionals that don’t get selected.
That’s where the NGI comes in.
Last year, the NCAA announced it would allow teams to play in one season-ending event, and Golfweek teamed up with Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club in Maricopa, Arizona, just south of Phoenix, to host the inaugural National Golf Invitational.
The women’s championship wrapped up Sunday, with Penn State taking home the title. The men’s 54-hole tournament began Friday.
National Golf Invitational: Men’s field | Women’s results
For some teams, like Arkansas State, it’s an opportunity for a postseason appearance and invaluable experience.
“If you look at college golf, especially in 2023, it’s as deep as it has ever been,” Arkansas State coach Mike Hagan said. “So if you just missed out on making regionals, that doesn’t mean you had a bad year. (The NGI) is a big deal for us.”
The Red Wolves are one of 13 teams competing on the men’s side in a field that includes Power 5 programs and mid-majors. The Penn State men are also in the field and will look to complete a sweep this week.
Wyoming coach Joe Jenson said having another postseason event will benefit college golf in the long run, too. He uses Colorado as an example, which got into regionals while being near the cut off and played its way into the NCAA Championship.
“We competed very closely with them all year, and it benefited us seeing their success,” Jenson said. “There’s just enough good teams that aren’t selection for regionals, so I can’t say enough about what this event means for players and us coaches.”
Checking in with Coach Jensen as the Cowboys prepare to compete in the Inaugural Golfweek NIT! 🤠⛳️ pic.twitter.com/710Z8VCX3q
— Wyoming Golf (@wyo_golf) May 17, 2023
On Thursday, windy conditions swept Ak-Chin Southern Dunes as teams paraded around the golf course getting last-minute preparations in. For some players, it would be their final college golf tournament. For others, the NGI could provide important postseason experience and lead to a jump start into their next season.
College golf’s new postseason event is here. And it’s…
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