2001: Coaches rally to fill voids left by tournament cancellation

Most of the 18 men’s teams and all 12 women’s teams that were scheduled to compete in the recently canceled Golf World/Palmetto Dunes Collegiate Invitational are planning to play in separate replacement tournaments.

The quickly organized tournaments were the results of grass-roots efforts by coaches trying to make up for the loss of three competitive playing days. Coaches were eager to fill the days after receiving a letter Sept. 28 from Golf World publisher Peter Gross informing them the Nov. 9-11 tournaments at Palmetto Dunes on Hilton Head Island, S.C., had been canceled. NCAA rules allow teams only 24 playing days in a season (excluding conference, regional and NCAA championships).

Within one week, coaches had rallied among themselves and new venues were secured.

Long Cove Golf Club on Hilton Head Island, S.C., site of the 2003 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, will host the men’s event while the Auburn University Club will stage the women’s tournament, both on the same November dates.

Long Cove is ranked No. 23 on Golfweek’s America’s Best modern course list and is located down the road from Palmetto Dunes.

“We’re excited about holding the tournament,” said Long Cove director of golf Bob Patton. “It’s a great field, and we’re happy it worked out to where we can host it. . . . It should be a great tournament.”

“It’s pretty awesome to get a golf course like that on such short notice,” said Georgia coach Chris Haack, who helped land the Pete Dye-designed layout, which has been venue for the American Junior Golf Association’s Tournament of Champions and Canon Cup, as well as the 1991 U.S. Mid-Amateur Champion-ship. “Not only do we have a great golf facility, but no one is going to have to change their (airline) tickets or plans.”

According to Oklahoma State coach Mike Holder, who helped spearhead the charge in staging a tournament, 16 of the 18 teams committed to play in what is now the Long Cove Collegiate Invitational.

The list includes Oklahoma State; Georgia; Wake Forest; Augusta State; Purdue; Georgia Tech; Houston; Arizona State; Clemson; East Tennessee State; Oklahoma; Texas; Virginia Tech; Southern Cal; West Florida, the reigning NCAA Division II champion; and New Mexico, which has opened the season with two victories in its first two starts under new head coach Glen Millican.

The two teams deciding not to play are UNLV, which plans to use the three playing days in the spring at the TaylorMade Waikaloa Invitational in Hawaii, and Arizona.

“Everything is on go,” said Holder. “It works out well because, in a sense, nothing changes (as far as travel plans). And, we are fortunate to be playing one of the best courses in South Carolina, in the country for that matter.”

Auburn women’s coach Kim Evans wasted little time once she learned of the Golf World tournament cancellation. She contacted officials within her athletic department, the Auburn University Club course, and, along with Duke coach Dan Brooks, all the coaches of teams that were scheduled to play.

All were in favor of the tournament moving to Auburn, where it becomes the Auburn Tiger-Derby Invitational.

“It was a real shock when I heard about it (cancellation),” said Evans. “I talked with Dan Brooks, and we felt the main thing was to save the competition. I was so happy that the golf community here wanted it and our athletic department supported it. And when every team said yes to us holding it, that made it so cool.”

The 12 teams that will participate at the 2-year-old Auburn University Club course are Duke, Texas, Oklahoma State, Southern Cal, Georgia, UCLA, Arizona, Tulsa, Stanford, Pepperdine, Tennessee and Auburn.

Auburn has hosted the Auburn Tiger-Derby Invitational women’s tournament annually in the fall, but didn’t host this year because the team went to Japan. Evans said the November event would fill that gap left by the Palmetto Dunes cancellation and take on the same name.

“Right now, I’m just happy we could step up and hold a tournament for the teams (that) were scheduled to play (at Golf World) so no one is going to be out the three playing days,” said Evans.

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