Men’s golf seniors offered options

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Photo courtesy of UD Athletics

The University of Dallas men’s golf team was early in its most promising season.

As of March 23, the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) announced the cancellation of all-conference competitions, including the championships of all spring sports, for the remainder of the 2020 academic year due to COVID-19, according to the SCAC news website.

The cancellation of all 2020 conference competition has ended the season for over a thousand spring sport student-athletes within the conference, along with the careers of 100+ seniors, according to the SCAC website.

This decision followed the league’s President’s Council’s indefinite suspension of all non-conference and conference competition on March 12. The decision by the NCAA to cancel all spring championships and the escalating public health recommendations influenced the council’s decision, according to the website.

“Given where we are as a country, with cases of the coronavirus continuing to escalate, this decision was the responsible and correct thing to do,” said SCAC Commissioner Dwayne Hanberry in the March 12 announcement.

“It doesn’t make it any less disappointing to see the spring season prematurely come to an end for our student-athletes and coaches. My heart truly goes out to all of them – especially our seniors,” Hanberry said.

Erik Hamm, a senior golfer, expressed his disappointment over email: 

“We did play well in the first tournament of the year which was a high note. But at the end of the day, our goal was to repeat as SCAC champions and because of the coronavirus that opportunity was taken from us and that stings.”

In a statement recognizing seniors in spring sports, the league offered a blanket waiver granting an additional season of participation, according to the SCAC website. 

“I hope that we can get both of [our seniors] back next spring because they have been so instrumental in our success here with the golf program at UD,” wrote Garrett Smith, coach of the men’s and women’s golf teams.

Hamm is considering continuing his education at UD, which would mean pursuing his master’s degree and qualifying for one more year of eligibility on the golf team, but has not yet made a decision. 

“The fact that our team has such a bright future next year is what is really making this decision on whether to stay or not a tough one,” Hamm said.

The team has three current juniors, Robby Evans, Emilio Montalvo and Seth McNeill, to return this fall. The golfers have average scores of 76.36, 75.79 and 77.57 respectively, which makes for a promising senior lineup, even before accounting for returning seniors next year. 

Current senior Jacob Wade will be returning for a master’s degree and taking advantage of the eligibility waiver, according to Hamm.

“Coach Garrett [Smith] has done an unbelievable job with the program, and I expect he will continue his success next year,” Hamm wrote.

When asked about the lost opportunities, Smith expressed sympathy for the team, and commented on the time off.

“I feel for the entire team, to have their season taken from them for something they cannot control. We returned the entire roster from the conference winning team of last year, so I felt confident that we had a good chance to hopefully repeat as champions.  While the results early on this spring weren’t awe-inspiring, I believe that we were starting to round a corner…” Smith said. “Hopefully, the extra time … will allow us to return next year in form.”

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