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Golf: Making the Turn – Bill Bass Open important to UL

Dan McDonald, The Advertiser, Oct. 7, 2015

The Bill Bass Open is just over three weeks away, with UL’s annual homecoming golf tournament again providing local golfers and Ragin’ Cajun fans with the opportunity for some fun and fellowship with regular partners, other UL supporters and alumni who come into town for the weekend festivities.

The tournament’s main goal is to provide that type of atmosphere, but it also has a more important objective in helping support the Cajun golf team in a time that Louisiana higher education funding is lean and a lot of available funds are being directed toward much-needed improvements in athletic program facilities.

Because of that, the Bill Bass Open is important to the Cajun team. All funds raised, after payment of tournament expenses, goes directly to support the program both by direct contribution and by increasing the endowment in the Bill Bass Scholarship Fund that provides scholarship funding to the UL team.

“It’s very much a benefit to us,” said Cajun coach Theo Sliman, whose team is midway through its fall season and just returned from playing in the Cabo Del Sol Invitational in Cabo, Mexico. “We don’t do a lot of golf outings from a fundraising standpoint, so the proceeds from the Bill Bass and the scholarship go a very long way in our program.”

The tournament is set for Oct. 30, one day before Halloween and the Ragin’ Cajun football team’s game against UL Monroe in the annual Homecoming game.

Golf is different from most collegiate sports, with different budgetary demands and the fact that there’s no income derived from ticket sales for events as there is for most programs. And it’s also one of only a few chances, along with the Louisiana Classics tournament in the spring, for local fans to interact with the UL team.

“It’s a very expensive sport,” Sliman said. “When we go to an event we’re traveling for four days, and that means restaurants and hotels. Football and baseball have a lot more numbers, but we’re gone for a longer time and that means more uniforms. And with where the price of golf has gone, with balls and equipment, it can add up very quickly when you’re dealing with a full roster of guys.

“Thank goodness we’ve only seen a very few cuts, because we’re seeing the economic trying times in the state. This definitely fills a void for us.”

That’s why it’s important both for Cajun supporters and for those who just care about the game to take part.

The four-person scramble event features availabilities for morning and afternoon shotgun starts, with play beginning at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the two waves. Registration begins 90 minutes before each tee time, and lunch will be served after play for the morning wave and before play for the afternoon wave.

One feature of the tournament is that a member of the Cajun coaching staff is on hand to talk to the field right after lunch. Cajun football coach Mark Hudspeth has been able to work it into his schedule a couple of times, as has men’s basketball coach Bob Marlin. Other members of the UL athletic staff will be on hand during lunch to meet and greet players.

More snacks and beverages will be available on the course, and members of the Cajun golf team will be on the course and hitting shots along with each team on selected holes. There will also be some special “Homecoming” holes in play throughout the round.

Entry fee is $125 per player or $500 per team, and players may make up their own four-person team or may enter as individuals to be paired up into teams. A team handicap index is used so that all teams will have a chance at the Cajun-themed prizes that will go to the winning squads.

Entry forms are available at all other local courses, at the Golfballs.com Retail Center and The Golf Connection, at the UL athletic department and the UL Alumni House offices along with other selected locations. Forms and entry information are also available by calling 857-8754.

Even easier, though, is an online entry form that is available through www.ragincajuns.com. The online entry allows players to send in entry information. Those entering online will still have to pay entry fees upon arrival at the course.

The tournament honors the late Bill Bass, an icon in golf in Louisiana, the UL Alumni Association’s first director and former Cajun golf coach. His son Bob Bass, who also coached the UL team for nearly two decades and was honored as the coach on the all-time Sun Belt Conference team , is the chairman of the event and will be on the course meeting and greeting teams all day long.

“I don’t know the exact number of years, but it’s been around for as long as I can remember,” said Sliman, himself a former member of the UL team. “To have Coach Bass’ father’s name attached to this, and to have the scholarship in his name, it’s a tremendous honor for us. It’s an exciting time of the year with football and with homecoming, and to have the opportunity to piggy-back on that and have a tournament to benefit the golf program is a huge honor and a huge benefit.”

Athletic Network footnote by Ed Dugas:
Click here for photos and information on the 2009 Golf Reunion.