The ever-improving status of college golf in South Florida improved this past season to a level it has never seen.
For the record:
• Barry University, located in northern Miami-Dade County, won the men’s national Division II championship.
• Lynn University, located in Boca Raton, won the women’s national championship and the men’s team made it to the national final before losing to eventual champion Barry in a tiebreaker. That means Lynn came one stroke away from a national title sweep.
• Barry sophomore Nancy Vergara, who is from Venezuela, won the women’s individual national Division II championship, and the team finished third.
• Nova Southeastern University, based in Davie and a year-in and year-out national title contender, lost to Barry in a tiebreaker in the national men’s semifinal, and the Nova women finished second nationally.
• The FIU women , under coach Joe Vogel, made giant strides, winning its first Sun Belt Conference title and making it to the Division I East Regional, one step away from the national championship tournament.
• The University of Miami women, with coach Patti Rizzo at the helm, made it to the NCAA Division I West Regional.
“It’s strong down here, really strong,” Barry men’s coach Jimmy Stobs said.
Helping make it that strong is Nova Southeastern, which year after year seems to trade the No. 1 and No. 2 spots with Barry in the national polls throughout the regular season. This year was no different.
“I wouldn’t call our rivalry too friendly,” Stobs said of Nova Southeastern, “but I would certainly call it one of respect.”
And Stobs wasn’t about to leave out Lynn.
“The three of us have outstanding players,” he said.
Stobs wouldn’t mind pitting his Division II program against the best of Division I, including national champion Alabama.
“The biggest difference between us and them is depth,” Stobs said. “My top two or three players can play with anybody.
“Kids can get directed toward Division I schools because of the name and they just think it will be better — so they go there.”
Stobs did concede, “The top five Division I teams are extremely strong. It would be hard to compete with them day-to-day because of their depth.”
How has Stobs kept his program so high in the national spotlight for so long? One way was not to dwell too long on his national championship.
“I was recruiting 10 minutes after we won,” Stobs said.
Another person working hard at it is Lynn’s Danny Randolph, coach of the school’s national championship women’s team.
“It’s definitely the big leagues down here,” said Randolph, in his second year. “Each tournament is such a big battle.
“Playing Barry, Nova and others — they’re so good, it makes you a better team.”
Like Stobs, Randolph also would like to get a shot at playing the best of Division I.
“It would be a step up and a continued challenge for our players,” he said. “I certainly would want to do it.
“And, most important, our girls would love to do it.”