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Feb 08

What’s Going On at Furman – No Men’s Golf?

Furman Announced the Mens Golf Discontinued

I chanced upon the Furman Athletics website this morning, and found four interesting articles. In the first one, it is reported that “Cole Fires a 69 to Tie for 25th at AutoTrader” – that was cool enough. In the second, I read, “Hopke leads Paladins in Opening day of Eagle/Osprey,” and in the third, an announcement was made that Furman had signed three new men for the golf team. By all appearances, this appeared in every way to be a school with a going golf team, one with a real future – alive and well, winning championships, holding its own against larger schools in Division I play, and boasting a stellar history. Furman graduates, after all, include players such as Beth Daniel, Brad Faxon, Betsy King and Dottie Pepper.

furman 1 The athletic site is very interesting and enthusiastic about everything that’s going on. A school of only three thousand undergraduates, Furman describes itself as “one of the smallest schools competing in NCAA Division athletics…that however, hasn’t prevented us from producing big results.” The site goes on to say that “sports are a big deal here,” and suggesting that if the reader is “looking for athletic glory, you’ve come to the right place.”

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And yet, that fourth article caught me completely off-guard. After the 69s and the new signees, it was also announced, just above the other articles, that mens golf as a varsity sport will be discontinued, as of this spring…huh? Wait a minute, are we talking about Furman University here? Why, this place has a high academic standing, a winning tradition and the coolest name imaginable – (Paladin, in its earliest form, refers to the group of foremost warriors in the court of Charlemagne) – see what I mean? What could be cooler than that? It’s also a beautiful part of the country in which to play golf.

furman 2 The university, nestled in the green of Greenville, South Carolina, and residing in the Southern Conference, says that it’s all a matter of resources – I don’t know why they never just come out and use the real word – resources means money, and where it will all go, and how much will be given to what. They also say that the funds normally allocated for golf will not be spent on other programs. I’m sorry, but in some places, no matter how good you get at it, it’s still a minor sport. Football is still king, even though that group is not winning big in the NCAA and has no real presence in the rankings, but a winning program in another sport, despite the fact that half of America plays it and watches it – not good enough. You’re a drag on the budget. That is odd logic – it just seems that when you’re good at something, you should run with it in private, like your website does in public.


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I have seen this in other places as well, for example when Oregon had leading gymnastic teams and poor football results, but cut the gymnastics anyway. Worse than that, it’s very often the women’s programs who take the hit first, although public outcry through the past decade has minimized that to a point. During times of bad economy, things like that sometimes need to happen. I love football as much as the next guy, but I just can’t see myself rooting that hard for the Furman Paladins of the gridiron.

The Furman Golf Team Paladins on the other hand – now, that’s just too cool to resist.Furman 3

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About the author

G.F. Skipworth

has spent every available moment playing golf or studying the greats since the 60s, in between world tours as a classical musician, Harvard studies in Government or as the author of a dozen novels. Nicklaus and Snead may be the statistical greats, but Skipworth is a life-long devotee of Gary Player, and considers meeting the South African at the Jeld-Wen to be an unforgettable milestone. His driving passion in golf these days is to raise viewer interest in the LPGA.