April 19, 2012
by Spencer Sorensen
Last year, Jim Knoll had a spectacular year to win his first ever NCGA Senior Player of the Year award. Knoll earned his success by wins in the NCGA Senior Championship, the NCGA Senior Four-Ball, the Alameda Commuters Senior and NCGA Senior Valley Amateur. By the time October rolled around and the 2011 season ended, Knoll had accrued 2,726 points—a Senior Player of the Year record.
Besides his success in winning several big tournaments, Knoll was also aided by the quantity of events he played throughout Northern California as he earned points in 30 different events. This brings up a curious thought: how many points could a player in earn in a season?
Well, by adding up all the points of NCGA, USGA and other outside NCGA point events from the Player of the Year list that total would come to 19,175 points. In the senior division not quite as many points are divvied up as that total comes to 11,220 points. However, seniors have the advantage of also earning points in Player of the Year events counting towards the Senior Player of the Year list, making that total possibly higher.
Before you go ahead and make a new goal to earn north of 10,000 points, realize you probably have a better chance to win the lottery. A player would have to play in every single event, which is impossible due to same or overlapping dates, and furthermore would have to place first in every single event he entered. Additionally, other restrictions would make it impossible too, club affiliation (i.e. Public Links) and age division only events (Junior, Mid-Am and Master Division), which are all counted toward the Player of the Year point total. Lastly, the 19,175 points includes the four-ball totals as what a team would earn and not an individual. Right there that would likely cut down the amount of possible points by at least a thousand or two. This is without mentioning that all outside NCGA events aren’t always awarded points due to insufficient field sizes.
Hypothetically though, a player could play in 53 events—events that don’t have age restrictions and are the highest point total when conflicting with another tournament dates—and earn about 8,500 points. Once again though, don’t plan on seeing this happen because a player would literally need to have the greatest year in amateur golf since Bobby Jones. A player would need to win four NCGA championships (Four-Ball, Amateur Stroke Play, Amateur Match Play and Valley Amateur), would also have to make the cut at the U.S. Open after making it through local and sectional qualifying, win the California State Amateur (and earn championship medalist), win the U.S. Amateur after capturing medalist honors, and place first in every single event that he entered.
Similarly, a senior could earn about 7,100 points by placing first in 47 senior events in 52 weeks, without playing in a “Player of the Year” event. However, he would have to have quite a stellar year, which would include wins at four NCGA senior championships (Senior Amateur, Senior Four-Ball, Senior Match Play and Senior Valley), a win at the USGA Senior Amateur including medalist honors, and make the cut at the U.S. Senior Open after making it through sectional qualifying.
Overall, it should be viewed as quite an accomplishment for what Jim Knoll and Spencer Levin have accomplished. Knoll’s 2,726 points and Levin’s 2004 dominance, when he earned 2,770 points, are impressive benchmarks that current NCGA players should strive for. One day when a new record is set, we can then again wonder: how many points could a player earn in a season?
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