(Editor’s note: This story will be updated…)
As the tournament committee made its way down the steps at LSU’s University Club, Houston coach Gerrod Chadwell started to shake. Could it be that for a second year in a row, his team’s season would end with a parking lot conversation without hitting a golf shot?
“Look, this is one of the most gut-wrenching decisions and announcements that I’ve ever been a part of,” said NCAA Committee representative Brad Hurlbut, the Director of Athletics at Fairleigh Dickinson, outside the clubhouse at the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional around 11:30 a.m. CDT.
“Even though the course is playable, it’s not playable at a championship level. Therefore, the top six teams that were seeded will advance, along with the top three individuals that were not on those six teams.”
At this point, in a video obtained by Golfweek, screams of “Are you serious?” and “You just said it’s playable,” rang out as the committee marched back up the stairs toward the clubhouse without another word.
Here’s the scene in Baton Rouge when officials canceled NCAA Regionals without one single shot being played over the course of three days. pic.twitter.com/JtchPN9zlt
— Golfweek (@golfweek) May 12, 2021
Golfweek has been unable to reach Hurlbut for comment after multiple attempts. The NCAA has yet to release a statement on Wednesday’s decision.
“What is championship condition?” asked Purdue senior Inez Wanamarta on the ride to the airport. “Doesn’t it prove even further if it’s in really difficult conditions who should advance?”
Miami senior Renate Grimstad dropped to the ground in a puddle of tears, as did so many other players.
“It hasn’t rained all day,” said Tulsa coach Annie Young. “We could easily be through nine right now, maybe more.”
Not a single shot was hit on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday at LSU’s University Club. The top six seeds automatically advanced to the NCAA Championship, set for May 21-26 at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona:
For days now, several coaches have maintained that there were windows of time in which golf could have been played. Miami coach Patti Rizzo walked all 18 holes on Tuesday afternoon and said that maybe four or five bunkers were in bad shape. She did not see any of the maintenance crew working on the golf course during that time. She suggested to the committee that the par-4 seventh hole be shortened to a par 3 to adjust for the standing water in the fairway.
Young, who has served on NCAA committees for several years, like Rizzo, felt that the decision-makers in Baton Rouge were unprepared. Young was one of several coaches who noted that she hadn’t seen a single pump on the golf course.
“Everybody is kind of in a state of shock,” said Rizzo after walking the course on Tuesday afternoon. “Is this a conspiracy or something? Why are we not playing?”
Yesterday afternoon Miami coach Patti Rizzo walked the course in Baton Rouge: “We should be out there playing right now.” pic.twitter.com/5tQwG7pRh2
— Beth Ann Nichols (@GolfweekNichols) May 12, 2021
In fact, in Sunday’s coaches meeting the committee reminded coaches that if they couldn’t get in 18 holes of golf that the teams would advance off of seeding. Chadwell wonders now why they didn’t start playing on Sunday when weather wasn’t an issue.
Officials told coaches that the event couldn’t be pushed back to Thursday due to stipulations in the event’s manual.
“This place has zero business hosting another regional,” said Chadwell, who said zero effort was made to adjust as it became clear that the tournament couldn’t be played in a normal fashion.
“You find a way to get it done.”
Wanamarta called it the most poorly managed tournament she’s ever seen. She was disappointed in the committee’s communication with both players and coaches and felt that in a year in which schedules varied wildly due to a global pandemic, that going off of seedings felt especially unfair.
“We’re not asking to go to nationals,” said Wanamarta. “We’re just asking to be able to prove ourselves.”
Julie Williams contributed reporting.