Self-funded California golf team seeks second NCAA title

The California golf team is tired of big-money programs dominating the college landscape. 

The Golden Bears, currently ranked No. 1 in the country, are seeking their second-ever NCAA golf championship, despite operating on an entirely self-sufficient, $600,000 budget.

That’s right. The university isn't funding Cal's trip to Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course in Milton, Georgia on Tuesday as the team competes in the NCAA championships.

Most of the money for the Bears golf team is generated through the tireless efforts of their coach, Steve Desimone, a former California basketball player. The money comes from fundraising, an endowment and individual donors, according to the Associated Press.

“There’s no story like this in intercollegiate athletics,” Desimone said to the AP. “I’m essentially running a business running a golf team,” he added. “The fundraising never stops.”

The Bears -- favored to win the NCAA title -- are led by sophomore Michael Kim, the nation’s No. 1 ranked player. Kim has won four tournaments himself this season, a new school record. 

Collectively, the Bears set an NCAA modern-era single-season record by winning 11 of the 13 tournaments that they entered.  

“The school record was three wins when [senior] Max [Homa] got here,” Kim said. “Since I got here, we’ve had wins in bunches. And nowadays, it’s almost like we’re supposed to win.” 

Desimone, now in his 34th year, guided the Bears to a 19th-place finish two years ago and they were tied for a third-place finish at last year’s NCAA championships. 

All five players taking part in the championships have won a tournament this year, and now Desimone is hoping to capitalize on the immense regular season success. 

“We’re set in history one way or the other in ways that no other team has succeeded,” he said. “When you consider the self-funding aspect of it, it makes it even better.”

For more, follow Mike Singer on Twitter @RealMikeSinger.  

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