Coaches as caddies?

At this week’s U.S. Amateur, a couple of college coaches are carrying bags for current players. Alabama coach Jay Seawell is the caddie for Bud Cauley, and Oklahoma State assistant coach Alan Bratton is looping for Peter Uihlein.

Is this allowed? Apparently so, but this is something new to many coaches and other college golf followers. There always has been the understanding that coaches could not caddie for any of their players during the offseason. (If they choose to do so during the season, a coach would have to count those days as competition days.)

The new interpretation was sent to coaches in an e-mail by the Golf Coaches Association of America, after consultation with NCAA legislative assistant Stephen Clar. According to Clar’s response, it is permissible for a coach to engage in coaching activities for a current student-athlete outside the declared practice and playing season but only at a competition that is considered an established national championship or junior national championships.

A few questions I have here:

>> 1. How have coaches never known this before?

>> 2. Do “coaching activities” include being a caddie, or just coaching on the range?

>> 3. Why only national championships? Why not a professional tour event? Why not a state amateur?

>> 4. If this is allowed for a national championship, does that include qualifying rounds for the U.S. Open and the U.S. Amateur? What about a junior golfer who already has signed with a college, started classes and is playing in the U.S. Junior?

>> 5. How about a coach carrying the bag for a player at the Masters, a date that most likely would fall with the school’s playing and practice season. Does that count only against the student-athlete’s days of competition or against the team’s?

Players used to not be allowed to even carry their school’s bag or wear a team-issued hat, and now this?

E-mails to the NCAA had not been returned at the time of this blog. However, e-mails to some college compliance directors who are knowledgeable about golf received a “I did not know this” reply.

Sounds like this “new” interpretation could lead down a slippery slope.

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