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Is parity in women’s golf what we think it is, or are mid-majors being edged out?

We hear the identical line yearly: The parity in women’s faculty golf continues to enhance every season.

But does it actually?

Twenty-four groups superior to the NCAA Division I Women’s Championship this yr at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona. Of these twenty-four groups, all however one competes in a Power Five convention: Kent State. And in the faculty golf area, the Golden Flashes are not checked out like a mid-major.

In years previous, when making picks or speaking about groups in the championship discipline, you may hear groups known as a “happy-to-be-here” workforce or one that would have week “if they catch lightning in a bottle.” That isn’t the case any longer.

When wanting on the 24-team discipline, it was not a stretch to imagine {that a} case may very well be made for any of them to make the 15-team minimize after 54 holes.

Going a step additional and looking out on the variety of groups prone to be among the many high eight that advance to match play, that checklist is bigger than regular, too. Proof of that’s in this yr’s Golfweek employees picks. Julie Williams, Beth Ann Nichols and myself listed 15 completely different groups when predicting how the eight-team match-play bracket would stack up. That quantity was once a lot decrease.

The phrase parity in women’s faculty golf has a brand new which means. The parity is rising throughout the Power Five leagues, not all of school golf.

This yr two groups – Maryland and Virginia Tech – made their first journey to the nationwide championship. Those two squads each compete in a Power Five convention. The final time a mid-major made its first journey to the finals was in 2011 when Coastal Carolina certified out of the East Regional because the No. 17 seed.

So, is there actually steadiness in women’s faculty golf? Or is it simply that the underside groups in the massive conferences have gotten higher?

Here we are this week at Grayhawk the place half of the sector making its third consecutive journey to the championship. That’s eleven Power Five groups and Kent State.

The numbers inform us a narrative, and it’s not one which mid-majors could wish to hear. Teams that used to fall on the underside tier of main conferences stack up in a different way now. They’ve closed the hole, or in some instances have handed what was once conventional mid-major powers in women’s golf.

Will mid-majors nonetheless be an element on the championship stage of women’s golf or have we reached the tip of an period?

When the NCAA went to a few regionals for the primary time in 2001, seven groups from mid-major conferences superior to the finals. Those seven groups have been Pepperdine, New Mexico, South Florida, San Jose State, Tulsa, New Mexico State and Kent State.

Following the 2001 championship, it was simple to think this may very well be a development that would proceed and presumably even develop. That is not what has occurred. In truth, just one different time (in 2009) have we seen that many mid-major groups on the finals.

In the final six years of the four-regional format, solely 15 mid-majors have superior. That computes to simply 10 p.c. From 2001 to 2014 (in the three-regional format), 17 p.c of the NCAA finals discipline was made up of mid-majors.

Junior golf getting deeper definitely interprets to extra colleges being aggressive, besides it doesn’t appear to be the mid-major colleges experiencing that phenomenon. Instead, it seems that the steadiness is staying throughout the main conferences.

Why is that this? There are definitely many causes, however most definitely it comes right down to the mighty greenback. The Power Five establishments have deeper pockets, and that interprets to extra effort and assets dedicated to women’s golf.

When we examine the women’s and males’s video games, the numbers are a lot completely different. When the boys arrive at Grayhawk later this week, 10 of the 30 groups might be mid-majors.

Some could level to the .500 Rule as one thing that helps preserve the steadiness, and possibly that’s true. Maybe the pool of gamers to select from is deeper. Whatever the rationale could also be, it’s secure to say that parity in women’s golf isn’t what it is considered.

It’s truly a case of the wealthy seemingly getting richer.

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