The summer has come and gone, which means the 2023-24 college golf season is here.
Last season, there was no shortage of excitement. Florida got hot at the end of the year, won the SEC Championship, then went on a run to capture the NCAA Championship for the fifth title in school history.
Now, there’s no shortage of storylines to follow as we head into the 2023-24 season, including the national championship moving to Omni La Costa in Carlsbad, California, next May. There’s also Florida reloading, the chasers and the early Player of the Year favorite looking to build off a big summer.
Here’s a look at some of the top storylines for the 2023-24 men’s college golf season.
Can Florida reload?
The Florida Gators are going to look different this fall. Fred Biondi, the reigning NCAA individual champion, is gone. So is Ricky Castillo and Yuxin Lin. All three who played pivotal pieces in the Gators winning their fifth national title in school history, but they’re gone. So who will step in?
Junior transfer Ian Gilligan, a second-team All-American from Long Beach State, is like to to fill a void. Parker Bell, a rising sophomore who advcanced to the U.S. Amateur semifinals, is another. John DuBois and Matthew Kress return. Florida seems primed for another strong year, especially if the Gators can find a couple more players to add depth.
Will Vanderbilt bounce back?
To say the end of last season was a disappointment for Vanderbilt may be putting it lightly. The Commodores were easily the team to beat throughout the regular season, winning five stroke-play titles and capturing the trophy at the East Lake Cup. Then came the postseason, when Florida knocked off Vanderbilt for the SEC title. At NCAAs, Vandy didn’t make match play. Gordon Sargent, the McCormack Medal winner for top-ranked amateur, returns, along with William Moll and Cole Sherwood, but there is plenty of motivation for the Commodores to get into match play next spring.
Is North Carolina even stronger this year?
North Carolina was one of the favorites to win it all last year, and the Tar Heels made the semifinals in match play before falling to Georgia Tech. However, UNC could be even stronger this year.
The leading trio of David Ford, Dylan Menante and Austin Greaser, all 2023 Walker Cup team members, return, but Ford’s twin brother Maxwell transferred in from Georgia, giving the Tar Heels another talented player. Senior Peter Fountain is also back, meaning UNC may have the deepest lineup in men’s college golf. Can that turn into a title?
The rise of Nick Dunlap
No player has more hype surrounding them heading into the season than Alabama sophomore Nick Dunlap.
Although he’s ranked fifth in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, Dunlap is the best player in men’s amateur golf right now, coming off a win in the U.S. Amateur at Cherry Hills Country Club and two more victories during the Elite Amateur Series. He had only one win his freshman year at Alabama, but he also recorded the second-lowest single-season scoring average in school history. The Haskins Award could be in his future.
Story originally appeared on GolfWeek