Summer is over, the calendar has turned to September and college is back in session. That means college golf is back.
With that, the chase to win an NCAA Championship is on. This year, the championships will be held at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, California, after being at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, the past three years. La Costa is set to host for three years.
Florida not only won the SEC Championship last year, knocking off top-ranked Vanderbilt, but also the NCAA Championship, going on a special run in the desert for its fifth title in school history. This year, however, there’s a new team on top of the preseason rankings.
Here’s a look at Golfweek’s 2023-24 men’s college golf preseason rankings.
A year after adding Dylan Menante via the transfer portal, it’s Maxwell Ford joining the fold this season, twin brother of All-American David Ford. That trio, along with Austin Greaser and Peter Fountain, make arguably the strongest 1-5 in the country. The Tar Heels finished first in stroke play at the 2023 NCAA Championship, but they’ll look to improve on the semifinal appearance in match play.
Vanderbilt was the top-ranked team for most of the 2022-23 campaign, but a poor showing at Grayhawk Golf Club at NCAAs left many to wonder what could’ve been. However, with World No. 1 Gordon Sargent returning along with Cole Sherwood, William Moll, Matthew Riedel and likely Jackson Van Paris or Wells Williams rounding out the lineup, the Commodores look primed to be in contention at the NCAA Championship.
Perhaps one of the biggest disappointments of the last three years was Arizona State not capturing a title close to home at Grayhawk Golf Club. However, the Sun Devils will be strong this season, with Preston Summerhays leading the charge. Wenyi Ding, the 2022 U.S. Junior Am champion, will enroll in the spring and add another punch to an already strong lineup with plenty of experience returning.
The Tigers had a big showing on the biggest stage at the 2023 U.S. Amateur at Cherry Hills Country Club. Senior J.M. Butler made the semifinals, rising freshman Jackson Koivun took Nick Dunlap to extra holes before losing in the quarterfinals, and Carson Bacha and Brendan Valdes also made runs in match play. Koivun is the top-ranked junior in the Class of 2023, so he should make an immediate impact.
Florida State made the NCAA semifinals last year, falling to in-state rival Florida. However, the Seminoles return all of their All-Americans from last season, including Brett Roberts and Luke Clanton. Along with Cole Anderson, Frederik Kjettrup and Jack Bigham, Florida State’s starting five is as deep and experienced as anyone.
Coming off the national title win in 2022, Texas reloaded its lineup last year with numerous freshmen and an All-American transfer in Brian Stark. The Longhorns took a while to click and still made it to NCAAs but missed the 54-hole cut. Sophomores Christiaan Maas and Tommy Morrison will step into bigger roles this year, but Texas has the experience now to again compete for a title.
Last season was an anomaly for the Sooners, who missed match play at the NCAA Championship for the first time since 2015. However, Drew Goodman finished strong and carried that into the summer with a semifinals appearance at the Western Amateur and making match play at the U.S. Amateur. Incoming freshman PJ Maybank III could make a mark in the lineup early. Ben Lorenz, Jase Summy and Stephen Campbell Jr. also return.
Alabama’s unquestioned leader this season is Nick Dunlap, who’s summer was capped with his stellar victory at the 2023 U.S. Amateur. He became the best amateur in the world this summer, even if he wasn’t ranked No. 1. Along with Canon Claycomb, Jonathan Griz and J.P Cave, the Crimson Tide are primed for a big season with Dunlap in front.
Tennessee ended the season poorly last year, finishing eighth at regionals and missing out on the NCAA Championship. However, sophomore and defending SEC individual champion Caleb Surratt returns, along with Bryce Lewis and Josh Hill among others. The Volunteers have depth, and even in the loaded SEC will be a team capable of making a run come NCAAs.
Georgia Tech was strong all season last year, making a run into the NCAA match play final before utlimately falling against Florida. 6-foot-9 Christo Lamprecht, the Amateur Championship winner and low am at the British Open is back, along with Bartley Forrester and Hiroshi Tai. The Yellowjackets have to find replacements for Ross Steelman and Connor Howe but remain one of the nation’s top teams.
11. Texas A&M
15. Texas Tech
18. Oklahoma State
20. Ohio State
21. East Tennessee State
25. North Florida
27. Wake Forest
28. Mississippi State
29. Ole Miss