One of those golfers is fifth-year senior Brynn Walker, who competed at the 120th U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship in Rockville, Maryland, in early August. She was able to do so after she was granted an extra year of eligibility following the canceled spring season. Walker said she was disappointed about not being able to play team golf this fall, but also said she saw some upsides to the situation.
“We have a majority of our team back, which is really nice, so we can go out and play together,” Walker said. “And then a majority of us are going to go play in tournaments individually, so I think (the cancellation) just offers us time to get better. In other team sports, you can’t really practice as much on your own, but for golf, you can do a lot of that. So as far as socially distancing and everything like that, this is a pretty good sport to be in.”
Golfers on UNC's men’s team have also kept playing solo tournaments throughout the summer. Most recently, senior Ryan Gerard competed in early August at the 120th U.S. Amateur in Bandon, Oregon. Like Walker, Gerard said he was sad about the cancellation of team golf, but also said he felt it was necessary.
“Obviously, there's a little bit of disappointment and frustration,” Gerard said. “But we kind of got to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and just understand that there's other things going on that are probably a little more important than me playing team golf this fall. And after you kind of get the right perspective on everything, you just kind of settle down, focus on your school and focus on trying to get better individually.”
In the same announcement where the ACC canceled fall golf, a tentative conference-only football schedule outline beginning the week of Sept. 7-12 was also announced.
Though he said he wasn’t “super happy” with the decision to cancel golf, Gerard added that he believed revenue sports — football and men's basketball — would always have a better chance of playing because they could spend more on precautions and make that money back for the University.
“It's just the nature of my sport,” Gerard said. “We don't generate TV revenue, except for maybe one tournament in the spring, where we make a little bit. But it's not like actually generating money; we’re still losing money. Like a lot of college sports, it’s just the way it is. People don't want to watch them as much as they'd rather watch the professional one.”
With the start of football remaining a controversial issue, Mann said she doesn’t think fall golf was canceled too soon. Though she acknowledged golf’s ability to be played while social distancing, she said she ultimately stands with the conference’s decision.
“I think the ACC has a great handle on things,” Mann said. “It’s easy to be a couch coach and make those determinations yourself, but you don't have all the information that the ACC has. They have the doctors working together on this, and we totally trust what their decision was and feel like it was based on all the facts. We are 100 percent behind that.”
@DTHSports | firstname.lastname@example.org