By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – For the first time in program history, Coastal Georgia enters the year as the preseason favorite in the NAIA Men’s Golf Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Friday. The Mariners, who have now been ranked No. 1 five times in program history, claimed 13 first place votes and 462 points en route to the top spot.
Coastal Georgia cruised to its second-straight title in 2015, posting a final round team score of 3-over-par to finish the 72-hole event at 7-under – 11 strokes better than second-place William Woods (Mo.). The Mariners are led by Third Team All-American Trevor Smith, who is the only returning member of the squad’s top five. Smith finished tied for 46th at last year’s national championships.
National runner-up William Woods comes in at No. 2 with four first-place votes and 455 points. The Owls welcome back a pair of First Team All-America selections in national runner-up David Houlding and Billy McKenzie. Houlding boasted an average score of 71.57 last season, leading to four tournament wins. McKenzie, despite finishing 60th at the national championships a season ago, was consistent throughout the year for William Woods, ending the campaign with a 73.32 scoring average.
Rounding out the top five are perennial top-teams No. 3 Oklahoma City (432 points), No. 4 Johnson & Wales (Fla.) (431 points) and No. 5 USC Beaufort (S.C.) (399 points). All three programs spent the entire 2015 season ranked within the top 15.
Three newcomers join the Top 25 – No. 23 Oklahoma Wesleyan, No. 24 Marian (Ind.) and No. 25 Our Lady of the Lake (Texas). Both Marian and Our Lady of the Lake are listed among the Top 25 for the first time since the 2013 postseason poll, while the Eagles garner their first-ever mention dating back to 2000.
The Sun Conference leads all leagues with five teams represented in the poll – Johnson & Wales, USC Beaufort, No. 10 Webber International (Fla.), No. 12 Keiser (Fla.) and No. 17 Thomas (Ga.).
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences, Association of Independent Institutions and Unaffiliated Groups. The first regular season rating will be on Nov. 6.
For the entire 2016 NAIA Men’s Golf Coaches’ Top 25 Poll ratings calendar, click here.
Notes: (All information dates back to 2000) Coastal Georgia has earned five all-time No. 1 rankings … In 2015, Coastal Georgia, Oklahoma City and William Woods (Mo.) held the No. 1 spot at least once during the season … Ten teams have been No. 1 at least once all-time … Oklahoma City leads the NAIA with 39 all-time No. 1 rankings, followed by former member Oklahoma Christian (28) and Texas Wesleyan, Wayland Baptist (Texas), and Coastal Georgia tie for third with five each … Oklahoma City has never been ranked out of the top five … Oklahoma City (2010, 2004, 2003, 2002) is the only Preseason No. 1 team to go on to win the national championships during the same season.2015-16 NAIA Men’s Golf Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll (August 28)
|RANK||LAST^||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES||TOTAL POINTS|
|1||1||Coastal Georgia (13)||462|
|2||2||William Woods (Mo.) (4)||455|
|4||3||Johnson & Wales (Fla.)||431|
|5||5||USC Beaufort (S.C.)||399|
|7||7||Wayland Baptist (Texas)||378|
|9||11||Grand View (Iowa)||336|
|10||10||Webber International (Fla.)||334|
|11||12||Dalton State (Ga.)||325|
|13||14||Cardinal Stritch (Wis.)||284|
|18||T19||The Master’s (Calif.)||198|
|19||24||Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)||187|
|20||23||Mount Mercy (Iowa)||166|
|25||NR||Our Lady of the Lake (Texas)||81|
Others receiving votes: Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) 77; Warner (Fla.) 67; Cumberlands (Ky.) 54; Faulkner (Ala.) 31; Davenport (Mich.) 30; St. Thomas (Texas) 27; Embry-Riddle (Ariz.) 22; Northwestern (Iowa) 15; SCAD Savannah (Ga.) 13; Oregon Tech 12; Lindenwood-Belleville (Ill.) 12; St. Francis (Ill.) 11; Houston-Victoria (Texas) 10; Arizona Christian 9; Southeastern (Fla.) 4.
^2015 postseason poll (May 29)