The year was 1983 and Tom Stine,
owner of the upstart Golfweek, hatched an
idea that was designed to grow the audience for the magazine and increase its
importance in the golf industry. He would
begin covering college golf, a previously
overlooked, backwater part of the game.
Stine was the architect of the strategy,
and he selected a small-town sportswriter
to be the builder.
Almost 30 years later, that builder, Ron
Balicki, will be inducted into the College
Golf Coaches Association of America Hall
of Fame tonight in Las Vegas, the first
non-coach to receive this recognition.
Stine hired Balicki
and he has fond memories of those days.
“He was a very hard
worker, he cared about
what he covered, what
he wrote,” Stine said.
“We sort of hatched
the idea of covering
college golf together. Florida Southern
coach Charley Matlock gave us a lot of
help and insight as to what was missing,
and the potential the college game had if it
only got some publicity.”
Balicki, almost alone in covering
college golf, would go on to attend 26
consecutive Division I NCAA champion-
ships. During his time, Balicki was instru-
mental in Golfweek’s development of the
national rankings for college teams, the
national amateur rankings and the
Ping/Golfweek Preview Tournament.
That event, now a staple of the college
landscape, provides the top men’s teams
pre-season access to the course where
the NCAA Championship would be played
in the spring. Balicki also gave first-time
exposure to women’s college golf, as well
as men’s Division II and III.