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College Golf: A Ray Of Hope

A column I wrote two weeks ago about the American college game’s seeming inability to retain its elite players drew, as I thought it might, considerable response. Some of it was in agreement, some of it was sharply critical, and some of it was humorous. But the most meaningful response came from Stanford University golf coach Conrad Ray.
It was Stanford team member Patrick Rodgers who prompted my column after he announced he will turn pro after his junior year. Ray did not agree with my point of view, and in a professional manner, he e-mailed his objections.
The point I was trying to make was that NCAA regulations make game improvement for the really elite players virtually impossible. I argued that Rodgers’ decision, just days after becoming the No. 1 ranked amateur in the world and on the heels of the previous top ranked amateur (reigning U.S. Amateur
champion Matthew Fitzpatrick) leaving Northwestern after just four months, laid bare this shortcoming.
Ray knows what he is talking about. He is one of very few men to have won a college national golf championship as a player and as a coach. His opinion is reasoned and based on his experience as an elite
college player, former professional, and now an accomplished coach at one of the most academically prestigious universities in the world.
A three-year letter winner for the Cardinal golf team, the Minnesota native walked on to the Stanford team as a freshman. He joined a team that won the 1994 NCAA Championship and included Tiger Woods, Casey Martin and Notah Begay. He captained the team in 1997 and was an All-Pac-10 and Pac-10 All-Academic selection that season as well. A four-year man at Stanford, he played in every event during his final two years. Pretty good for a walk on.


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