Jimmy Bass is a 16-handicap golfer. It’s a number that doesn’t figure to improve much anytime soon.
That’s because as a newly appointed member of the NCAA Division I men’s golf committee, the UNC Wilmington athletic director will be spending more time in meeting rooms than on the course.
But that’s OK with Bass.
As a career administrator who has dedicated his professional life to college sports and advocating for the young people that participate in them, he’s more interested in furthering the cause of college golf than working on his own game.
“This committee has done a really good job of doing what’s in the best interest for the game of college golf,” Bass said. “An offshoot of that is that the fact that they’re looking out for the best interests of the student-athletes that are competing. I think it’s a unique sport. I’m excited about serving and I’m excited about growing the game.”
Bass expressed an interest in serving on the committee when he was made aware of the opening several months ago through the Colonial Athletic Association commissioner’s office.
Even though UNCW doesn’t have a football program, he is technically the golf committee’s representative of the Football Championship Subdivision. He is also the only athletic director serving on the seven-member board which, among other things, is responsible for scouting, selecting and seeding the 64-team NCAA tournament field.
A total of 292 schools compete in men’s golf at the Division I level.
Although he won’t be sure of his exact role or the committee’s other functions — besides working closely with the College Golf Coaches Association — until he attends his first meeting, Bass is sure of one thing he’ll do until he settles in.
“It’s going to be a task of listening,” Bass said. “There are some terrific golf coaches on this committee and obviously we’ve got some terrific golf programs in our region, so I think you’ve got to listen.”
One thing he won’t be able to hear is the discussion involving his own school’s inclusion into the field. As is the case with the NCAA basketball committee, he’ll have to leave the room when — or if — that happens.
Fortunately for Bass, there’s a good chance the Seahawks will play their way into the field since they’ve won the CAA championship in each of the past two years and return a talented squad again this season.
That doesn’t mean coach Daniel Bowden won’t have anything to lobby his boss about.
“Daniel called me almost immediately and said what can we do about hosting a regional,” Bass said with a chuckle. “Honestly, the regionals are already set through 2022. They do a lot of work in advance so people can plan, and I know it’s very competitive.”
College golf has experienced a significant growth over the past decade thanks to the switch to a more television-friendly eight-team match play format for its national championship tournament. The exposure those events have gotten from The Golf Channel has also helped add to their popularity.
The championship event is scheduled to be played for the next three years at Greyhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.
It’s a scenic but challenging course — though for Bass and the other members of the Division I men’s golf committee, the biggest challenge won’t be the play on the course but rather all the other little details that go into staging such an important event.
“It’s very competitive,” Bass said. “There’s a lot of pressure involved, so it will be trying to keep everybody’s nerves calm.”