Written By: Andy Johnson | @the_fried_egg
The nation’s best club golf teams descend on The Resort at Glade Springs this weekend for the Spring 2016 NCCGA National Championship. 30 teams and 21 individuals will take on the Cobb and Stonehaven courses, both challenging championship setups that should bring the country’s best to the top of the leaderboard. At the end of the weekend, team and individual national champions will be crowned.
How they got here:
Each of the 30 teams that qualified either earned their way by winning their regional championship or by a wild-card selection based on exemplary results. On the individual side, the 16 best NCCGA golfers not on a competing team were invited to play at NCCGA nationals.
Teams to watch:
Golf Academy of America - Orlando
The number 1 ranked team in the country will come into NCCGA Nationals as the proverbial favorite, coming off big win in the North Florida Region. GAA-Orlando ended Florida's streak of regional championship with their title this Spring. GAA-Orlando's team finished in 2nd and 1st in their two tournament appearances this spring, winning their regional by 14 shots over University of Florida. They are led by Johnathan Milner, who ended the season as the 10th ranked individual in the country.
University of Indiana - Bloomington
Don’t overlook this cold-weather team! It may be the Hoosiers’ first-ever appearance at the National Championship, but they were able to come out on top even through the tough weather conditions of the spring season. Indiana’s team was able to win both of their spring starts, led by Spencer Gillig's performance in both tournaments. Gillig shot a solid 2-under-par at Purdue University’s difficult Kampen course for the 3-stroke victory.
Florida State University
The Seminoles will be making their National Championship debut this season, 2 years after the club made their NCCGA debut in the Spring of 2014 season. Playing in the stacked North Florida regional, FSU finished in 3rd place in both of their spring tournament appearances, but their scores and performances were good enough to snag a wildcard bid and #7 ranking in the nation.
University of Connecticut
The Huskies are making their second straight appearance at the NCCGA National Championship, after squeaking out a close 2-stroke win in the New England Region's only tournament of the season over Boston College. UConn’s Michael Thibodeau led the team with a four-stroke victory in the tournament, shooting a +4.
View full team rankings here
Players to watch:
Blaine Butner, Golf Academy of America - Dallas
The former University of Oklahoma student has been sizzling this spring, having yet to shoot an over-par round. Will the trend continue this weekend?
Austin Havens, Illinois State University
Havens is looking to defend his fall title, and keep the red jacket for another season. Havens won by 1 shot at the difficult TPC San Antonio courses (this week’s PGA Tour host). This spring has seen Austin continue his winning ways, taking both regional tournament individual titles in the Great Lakes Region.t.
Tyler Allen, University of North Florida
Allen comes in as the 3rd-ranked individual from the tough North Florida region, where he registered a T2 and 3rd place finish in the two tournaments. This is the first semester competing in the NCCGA for Allen. Look for this lefty to be a factor late on Sunday at NCCGA Nationals.
Zachary Capel, Grand Canyon University
Coming out of the Desert Region, Capel will be making the long trek to Glade Springs this weekend representing the Grand Canyon team. Capel proved his propensity to go low, shooting a final-round 68 at the Desert Regional to win the title.
View full player rankings here
Everything is shaping up for a great weekend of golf. Follow along on Twitter for regular updates @NCCGA, and using the hashtag #GetToGlade and #NCCGAChamp.
*Andy Johnson is the founder of the newsletter and golf blog The Fried Egg.