The BYU women's golf team has found themselves in the national spotlight this week as the NCAA announced their modification to the Championship schedule given BYU's Sunday restriction. The women will tee off a day early on Thursday, instead of playing on Sunday like the rest of the competing programs.
Over the course of four days, the field will go down from 24 to 8. Thursday through Sunday it narrows to 15 and then after the round on Monday, they get to the final 8. It should be noted that BYU is not likely to make it even to the round of 15 but nonetheless, it is important to understand how the tournament works.
It comes as no surprise that the NCAA is allowing this change, given that it is in the NCAA bylaws to accommodate BYU's inability to play on Sundays. However, this did not stop writers and BYU haters from immediately citing unfairness in the change:
A whole thread was even made about it on Reddit. Whole lot of people getting mad online about women's college golf! Okay!
Could playing on a different day be an advantage to BYU? Maybe! But it is more likely that this will be a disadvantage.
So far, weather has been the most cited reason for why this is unfair to other teams not named BYU. After all, BYU could potentially play in better weather on Thursday, while the rest of the field struggles in bad weather on Sunday. Well, isn't it also possible that the weather is bad on Thursday and good on Sunday? This idea that it's an institutional advantage feels a bit like a stretch.
BYU coach Carrie Roberts put it this way,
"That's something (weather) out of our control. We don't want an unfair advantage. We don't want the weather to be good one day and to be bad on Sunday. That's the last thing we'd want. Hopefully it's the same for everybody."
Pressure on other teams
I have seen several people say that BYU gets the upper hand because they can put pressure on other teams who can't start until Friday. Well, maybe, but they could also play horrible and have all the pressure on them to make it up in two days instead of three. This is the postseason. Isn't everybody under pressure already?
Other teams get to see the Sunday holes
For those unfamiliar with golf, each day of a tournament the hole location changes. Granted, it's obviously always on the green but part of what makes golf difficult is having to adjust over the course (pun intended) of many days.
BYU will be seeing the holes for the first time Thursday, but all other teams will know where the hole placements will be on Sunday. This is a massive advantage that few are talking about. Instead of deciding on the approach at the tee box, players and coaches can corroborate Saturday evening and Sunday morning knowing what lies ahead.
Many are arguing that BYU gets the rest on Sunday while other teams won't and that is unfair. The BYU women will have 30 minutes in between the practice time and tee time whereas everyone else gets a day, isn't that an advantage?
Considering that college athletes don't have professional caddies, times with the coaches is vital. Getting that day to speak with the coaches and talk about the course helps.
The only way this change is an advantage is if the weather is awful on Sunday. Otherwise, it's a disadvantage for the Cougars. Coach Roberts nailed it with this analysis,
"We've never been in this situation before, so we don't know if it's going to be good or not," Roberts said. "The talk is about if it's an advantage for us, but what if it isn't? If it's a disadvantage for us, nobody says a thing. But if it's an advantage, it's a huge topic."
Hopefully BYU is in the news for playing well and not because some sore loser coach who's team finishes in 16th is angry. If other coaches get #mad #online about it, maybe they should just move the tournament to days when all member institutions can participate.