Golf: Bill Bass Open an important tradition for UL + more UL golf tournaments for UL Athletic Teams
Dan McDonald, The Advertiser, Sept. 12, 2018
It’s been around for more years than most can remember, and the Bill Bass Open has had its share of ups and downs.
But the mission of UL’s annual golf tournament remains the same, just as it was many years ago when it was called by other names … to support the university and provide its supporters with an afternoon of fun and fellowship during the activities of Homecoming week.
In recent years, it’s also become a vehicle to generate at least some support for the Ragin’ Cajun golf team. We’ll stop short of calling it a “fund-raiser” since tournament organizers have attempted to keep entry fees low for many years to foster participation and to keep the event within financial reach of all Cajun fans.
But after all the bills are paid, whatever is left goes directly to the UL golf team and the Bill Bass Scholarship Fund, which aids the Cajun program in providing financial assistance.
This year’s tournament is Oct. 12 at its traditional Les Vieux Chenes home, one day before the Cajun football team celebrates Homecoming on Oct. 13 against New Mexico State. Registration and lunch begin at 10:30 a.m. with a noon shotgun start, and entries for the tournament are now available — and maybe more important than ever.
Like many other area tournaments, which have been hit by the economic downturn in the Acadiana area, the Bill Bass Open’s entries have declined over the past few years. That’s not good for anyone, most of all the Cajun golf team that receives those proceeds.
“We have several events during the year that help us raise funds,” said Cajun coach Theo Sliman, “and the Bill Bass is one of the many that we count on. But it’s important to us for a lot of other reasons … it’s a tradition, it’s a chance to spend time with some of our supporters, and it honors a man and a family that has made Cajun golf what it is today.”
The four-person scramble is one of the major events of Homecoming week and draws both golfers and Cajun fans to Les Vieux Chenes for a Friday of golf and socializing. Some come for the golf, some come because it’s a university event, and some just come because it provides a chance to connect with other Cajun fans — which is what Homecoming should be all about.
But the tournament is open to all golfers, not just Ragin’ Cajun fans, and players may assemble their own four-person team or may enter as individuals to be placed onto teams. A handicap index will be used to insure that all teams and players will have equal opportunity to win the prizes that will go to the top three teams.
Prizes will also be awarded for closest to the hole on two par-threes and a long-drive on the 18th hole, and a putting contest will also include a Cajun-themed prize. Drinks and snacks will be available on the course, courtesy of Acadiana Bottling Co. and Schilling Distributing, and each player will receive a full packet of tournament gifts courtesy of Golfballs.com.
The Cajun team is also heavily involved. All squad members will be on hand and will be hitting shots with each team either on par-threes or par-fives, giving each team that extra advantage on those holes.
The tournament honors the late Bill Bass, whose contributions to Acadiana-area golf and to the university are well-documented. Bass left the insurance business in 1965 to serve as the school’s first full-time alumni director, and the former letterman in football and boxing also served two different stints in two different decades as Cajun golf coach.
Bass also helped supervise the construction of the Oakbourne Country Club course in the mid-1950s and helped develop that into one of the state’s top layouts — one that hosted a PGA Tour event for nearly a decade and where the newly constructed UL golf facility is located. Bass also designed and was one of the driving forces behind the old Acadian Hills Golf Club.
He remained involved in university activities and the local golf scene up until his passing in 1987. Shortly after that, the Alumni Association began a scholarship in his honor and teamed with his son Bob Bass — himself UL’s golf coach for nearly two decades and honored as the top coach in the Sun Belt Conference’s first 30 years — to found the Homecoming tournament that now bears his name.
“We always talk to our players about how important family and tradition are,” said Sliman, who is the son of a former Cajun golf coach. “This is a perfect example of that.”
Players may enter the tournament in a variety of ways, along with an entry fee of $150 per player or $600 per four-player team. RCAF members and Vermilion Links Club members get a $25 discount from those entry fees. Entry forms are available at all local golf courses and golf outlets, an online entry form is available at ragincajuns.com/BillBassOpen, or entries may be emailed to email@example.com or phoned in to (337) 857-8754.
Handicaps should be included with all entries, and more information is available by calling the number above.
SPEAKING OF CAJUNS: UL’s golf team opened its season Monday-Tuesday at the rain-marred Lone Star Invitational hosted by Texas-San Antonio, and the results were a mixed bag.
The Cajuns had one of their true freshmen, Charlie Flynn of Alexandria, post a top-20 finish and lead the squad with a 71-77—148 score, tying for 20th in the individual field. Returning squadman Peter Hinnant, playing as an individual, also had a top-30 finish when he shot 79-71—150 and had the team’s best score in Tuesday’s second and final round (the tournament was reduced from 54 to 36 holes due to heavy rains Monday).
As a team, though, UL finished 10th in a 15-team field with a 300-303—603 score, after standing tied for seventh after Monday’s first round. Five of the six other Sun Belt Conference teams in the 15-team field finished ahead of the Cajuns, including Arkansas State, whose 580 score put the Red Wolves in second place and two shots behind host and winner UTSA.
The Cajuns will be looking for more this week when they participate in the Louisville Cardinal Challenge on Friday-Sunday at the University of Louisville course in Kentucky.
MORE UL GOLF: Ragin’ Cajun athletic fans who also happen to be golfers will have plenty of opportunities during the fall to support the program and particular teams.
Including the aforementioned Bill Bass Open, there are five — count ‘em, five — different golf events revolving around UL athletics scheduled in the area over the next six weeks, with tournaments benefiting the men’s basketball, women’s basketball, baseball and softball teams.
The Cajun-specific events:
» First up, the women’s basketball team hosts the Assist Club Open next Monday with a noon shotgun start at Le Triomphe. The four-person scramble raises money for the Cajun women’s squad, and the $600 team entry fee includes all fees plus Adidas golf apparel and door prizes. Sponsorship are also available from $100 to $5,000. Information is available from director of basketball operations M.C. Vogt at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (337) 482-9012, and an online registration form is at ragincajuns.com/ACopenreg
» The next event is the baseball team’s annual fundraiser, set for Sept. 24 at Oakbourne. The four-person scramble sponsored by HomeBank and Wells Fargo Advisors has a noon registration and a 1 p.m. shogtun start. The $250 individual fee includes Adidas apparel, a Cajun hat and shirt, food and beverages, prizes on all par-threes and prizes to the top three teams A team entry of $1,000 includes mulligans, and sponsorships are available from $200 to $3,500. Registration deadline is Sept. 19, and more information is available from Danny Jones at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open at (337) 593-8000 or at email@example.com.
» The Wetlands will host two Cajun events in one week, with the softball program holding its fundraiser on Oct. 15. That four-person scramble has a 1 p.m. shotgun start, with prizes going to the top three teams and individual prizes for closest to the hole on all par-threes and a long drive contest. Entry fee is $125 per player or $500 per team that includes food and drink in the clubhouse and on the course. Registration forms are available online at ragincajuns.com/SBgolf, by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the softball office at (337) 851-6238.
» The Cajun men’s basketball program will hold its inaugural Tip-Off Classic on Oct. 19, with a 1 p.m. shotgun start at The Wetlands. The four-person scramble tournament is sponsored by NSI Nursing Specialties and has a $125 entry fee ($500 per team) that includes prizes on the course and to the top team finishers. Sponsorship opportunities are available from $150 to $1,500, with the top sponsorship level including a team entry, membership in the Rebounders Club and a social at coach Bob Marlin’s home. Information is available online at ragincajuns.com on the men’s basketball page.
“Making the Turn” appears Wednesday in the Daily Advertiser. Clubs, courses and individuals with information about local golf events may email Dan McDonald, editorial director at Golfballs.com, at email@example.com, FAX to (337) 857-8763 or call (337) 857-8754 and leave a message with phone number.