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Golf – Making the Turn: Bill Bass Open more important than ever this year + UL sports golf tourneys

Dan McDonald, The Advertiser, Sept. 29, 2020

Athletic Network Footnotes:
Click here for the Athletic Network profile of Bill Bass.
Click here for the Athletic Network profile of Bob Bass.

UL’s football team stands at 3-0 for the first time in over three decades, and the Ragin’ Cajuns will be headed back home in just over two weeks to celebrate Homecoming festivities.

Those Homecoming activities, despite the continuing pandemic challenges, will include the annual Bill Bass Open golf tournament – an event that is more important than ever to the Cajun golf team.

The Bill Bass Open, as always, is set one day before the Homecoming football game, and this year falls on Oct. 16 beginning at noon at its traditional Les Vieux Chenes home. The tournament is staged by the Ragin’ Cajun Athletic Foundation and all proceeds go to the UL squad.

That’s huge this year, since the coronavirus and the necessary protocols have severely handicapped the UL athletic department’s abilities to raise funds and sustain its programs. UL golf coach Theo Sliman told a group recently that the best way to support his program is to buy football season tickets, which is true, but social distancing has limited Cajun Field to seating far below its normal capacity.

Like many Cajun sports, the golf team has had to dig deep into its “rainy day fund” of UL Foundation accounts just to cover basics such as equipment and travel. Sliman’s team will take zero fly trips during the fall and spring seasons because of the virus-created shortages.

That makes it even more important for local golfers and UL fans to support a fundraiser event like the Bill Bass Open this year. Sure, the tournament provides the opportunity to (socially distant) gather with friends, other UL supporters and alumni, Cajun athletic staff and former UL athletes for an afternoon of golf one day before the football squad takes on Coastal Carolina.

But the tournament has another goal, and that’s to provide financial support for the Cajun golf program. The entry fees are purposely kept low in order to keep a high level of participation, but all funds raised go directly to UL golf coffers.

“It’s one of the events that we look forward to,” Sliman said. “It’s a chance for our players to meet and interact with fans, and to express our thanks for their support.”

Members of the Cajun golf team will be stationed on several holes throughout the afternoon at Les Vieux Chenes, hitting shots with every team.

What also makes the Bill Bass Open unique is its namesake. Bill Bass combined love of the university and love of golf as much or more than any figure in Acadiana history, and it’s fitting that the tournament falls during Homecoming since Bass was also the school’s first full-time alumni director beginning in 1965. Bass helped form the Alumni Association and revamped what is now the UL Foundation three decades after he himself was a student-athlete in football and boxing from 1938-40.

He later served two stints as UL’s golf coach, and during the 1950s, he helped supervise the construction of Oakbourne Country Club and was intimately involved in the development of what is still one of the South’s top courses and one that hosted a PGA Tour event for nearly a decade.

When he passed away in 1987, the Alumni Association began a scholarship fund in his honor and joined with his son Bob Bass – himself the golf coach at the university for nearly two decades and named the top coach in the Sun Belt’s first 30 years – to found the Homecoming tournament that still bears his name.

“Coach Bob” will be on hand for this year’s tournament, and would be one of the first to express the importance of local golfers entering and taking part to support the university and the golf program given the historic funding struggles brought about by the coronavirus.

Entries are still being accepted for the tournament, which features registration and lunch beginning at 11 a.m. on that Friday prior to a noon shotgun start. The event is open to all golfers and not just Cajun fans, and players may make up their own four-person teams or may enter as individuals to be paired onto teams.

Due to virus protocols that limit players to one per cart, entries are capped at 18 teams (72 players) this year, so players interested in taking part should submit entries as soon as possible.

Entry fee is $150 per player or $600 per team, with RCAF members getting a $25 price break on the individual and team entries. Entry forms are available at all area courses, or players may enter by e-mail (with handicaps) at danmcdonald@cox.net or by phone at (337) 654-4161.

Chip Shots

UL HOOPS GOLF: It’s not that long before college basketball makes its return, and UL’s men’s basketball program will hold its annual Tip-Off Classic golf tournament Oct. 23 at The Wetlands, with many members of the Cajun coaching staff taking part in the event.

The four-person scramble event has a $125 individual or $500 team entry fee that includes gift bag and food and beverage, and sponsorship opportunities from $200 for a hole sponsorship up to a $1,500 Rebounders Team are available. The Rebounders Team sponsorship includes an “All-American” gift package from the Rebounders Club and a social at Cajun coach Bob Marlin’s house.

Entry forms and more information are available at the UL basketball office, by e-mail at MER0761@louisiana.edu, or by calling (337) 262-3865.

BASEBALL GOLF: UL’s baseball squad holds its fundraiser tournament this Monday at Oakbourne, with a full field already entered and no other spots available.

The tournament has a 1 p.m. shotgun start, with prizes to the top three teams and closest to the hole on all par-threes. The tournament is sponsored by Home Bank and Russo Exploration and hosted by the Chitimacha Louisiana Open.

ASSIST TOURNEY DELAYED: UL’s women’s basketball had to postpone its scheduled  Assist Club Open fundraiser tournament last week because of bad weather, but the event has a new date and will be held Nov. 9 at Le Triomphe.

Players who had registered for the Monday event may roll over their entry by calling tournament organizers, and registration for other players is still available. The four-person scramble has a $700 per-team entry fee that includes cart and fees, range balls, beverages, Adidas golf apparel and other prizes. Sponsorships from $100 to $4,000 are also available with all proceeds going to the Cajun women’s hoop squad.

Information and entries are available from Assist Club president Jenifer Dendy at (337) 280-2275, director of basketball operations Mary Chris Vogt at (337) 249-5345 or Cajun coach Garry Brodhead at (337) 540-3573.

CAJUNS BACK IN ACTION: UL’s golf team is in the middle of its second outing of the fall season, with the Cajuns playing the final round Wednesday in the Graeme McDowell Invitational in Birmingham, Alabama, hosted by UAB.

The tournament is the second of three fall events, after a ninth-place finish at the Jim Rivers Intercollegiate held at Squire Creek two weeks ago. If nothing else, UL figures to be back at full strength since four members of the squad were in quarantine and could not play in the fall opener.

That left the Cajuns one man short with only five available players for the six-player, four-counting-score event, but they should be able to field a full contingent this week.

Junior Peter Hinnant will be going for his second straight high finish, after he shot a final-round three-under 69 and finished the three-round event at three-under 73-71-69—213 to tie for fifth in the 73-player field.

“Making the Turn” appears each week in the Daily Advertiser through November. Clubs, courses and individuals with information about local golf events may email Dan McDonald, editorial director at Golfballs.com, at danmcdonald@cox.net, FAX to (337) 857-8763 or call (337) 857-8754 and leave a message with phone number.