Arizona State University has dreams of becoming the permanent home for an NCAA Championship.
The Sun Devils will take the first step toward that goal in 2020, when they are set to partner with Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale to host the NCAA Golf Championships. It will be the first venue to host the men’s and women’s NCAA golf championships for three years in a row.
“Our ultimate goal, long-term, is not just to host it for that three years,” Sun Devil Athletics Chief Operating Officer Rocky Harris said. “We want to become what Omaha is for baseball, where we make this, Grayhawk, Scottsdale, Phoenix, the Valley, the home of collegiate golf championships forever.”
Omaha, Nebraska, has been home to baseball’s College World Series since 1950 and recently hosted its 68th tournament, with the Florida Gators bringing home their first NCAA baseball championship. To approach Omaha’s longevity, ASU knows its must produce a successful product for the NCAA and Golf Channel. It also must draw support from the community.
A history of hosting big-time golf tournaments may give Grayhawk an edge. From 2007 to 2009, the club presented the PGA Tour’s Frys.com Open. It also brought the Williams World Challenge and Waste Management Phoenix Open pro-ams to Scottsdale, along with others.
“We understand it’s a long road between here and there,” president and owner of Grayhawk Development Gregg Tryhus said. “We have to prove it out, the Golf Channel has to prove it out, ASU has to prove it out, and the community has to embrace it. But should everybody do that, I think there is a chance for us to turn this into the kind of event that will be hard to take away.”
Arizona State Athletic Director Ray Anderson said the partnership between ASU and Grayhawk came together after the NCAA and the Golf Channel approached Tryhus about the possibility of hosting the NCAA Golf Championships. Tryhus then brought it to the school to discuss the possible partnership.
“Part of the discussion was how do we do something different and unique that will help the Golf Channel produce an event with some continuity and consistency of quality,” Anderson said.
True to its reputation as an innovator, ASU came up with a unique plan. The two sides discussed the possibility of offering a multi-year agreement to host the golf championships at Grayhawk. This offer will allow the Golf Channel and the NCAA to make significant investments in the broadcasting aspect of the tournament.
Beyond the NCAA Golf Championships, the Sun Devils hope to become the home for many future NCAA championships. Anderson said they currently don’t have any bids for future events, but they want championships for hockey, tennis, and even wrestling to be brought to the Valley
“We declared very vocally that ASU wants to be the place where championships for the NCAA come out here on a regular basis,” Anderson said. “So, golf is our first opportunity to prove that we can do this at a high level.”