Barstool Sports Let Them Play Classic
How we got here. The NCAA was scheduled to play one of their D1 Women’s Golf Championship regional events at the University Club in Baton Rouge, LA to qualify teams to the National Golf Tournament to be held at Gray Hawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, AZ. Coaches and Players were notified of severe weather coming into the area and the potential to cancel the event. The event was scheduled to be played on a Monday, but due to the weather and course conditions, the event was pushed back to Tuesday, and then pushed back to Wednesday, before it was finally canceled. The NCAA said in a statement that pushing the event back another day was not an option because according to the bylaws, it must be completed this year by Wednesday, May 12.
There are pictures of the venue on the day it was canceled, and you can clearly see areas of casual water and the bunkers would have been unplayable. But there are rules for both; relief from casual water and play the bunkers as waste area with relief. If the course was still waterlogged from the rain, having competitors play lift-clean-place is a perfectly good option.
The wild part is that they still opted to move teams and individual competitors onto the National Championship based on rankings. The top 6 seeded (out of 18) teams and the top 3 (out of 6) individual competitors would advance on essentially ending the golf careers of several competitors without getting to hit a shot. So, what was to come of the remaining teams? Do they just get on planes and head back home? Was all their work they’ve put in this offseason going to be a waste? That’s what they all thought was going to happen. But not this time. Welcome to the story, Sam “Riggs” Bozoian and Barstool Sports.
Riggs is best known as a blogger and personality for Barstool Sports and the leader of the group that makes up Fore Play Podcast, among other things. They also create wonderful content for their YouTube Channel, I highly suggest checking them out.
On Thursday, May 13, Riggs posted a video to his Twitter, inviting the 12 teams and individuals left out by the NCAA to come in Arizona and play in an “iconic championship” (his words, not mine). The teams he invited were Oregon State, Houston, Miami FL, North Texas, Purdue, Mississippi State, Tulsa, Sam Houston State, Kennesaw State, East Tennessee State, Jacksonville State, and Quinnipiac. The video ends with Riggs walking back up the staircase where he made his announcement and you hear voices chanting “let them play, let them play.” This would also be a hashtag to the tweet and become the rallying cry for the Championship, with it being known as the #LetThemPlay Classic.
Barstool Sports went above expectations, coving all expenses, including airfare and hotels. Barstool also spearheaded the work with the NCAA to work through compliance to get the NCAA to sign off on the event. Riggs and Barstool Sports staff were able to secure the location for the event, working directly with Kris Strauss, VP of Sales for Troon. Troon is a golf and club management company based in Scottsdale, AZ with over 600 courses in their portfolio. The team selected Whirlwind Golf Club, a 36-hole facility in Chandler, AZ. The name Whirlwind was very fitting for the championship since the event was organized in less than a week.
In the end, 13 teams competed in the Championship, with North Texas taking home the victory shooting a team score of 11 under par.
It was fitting, the #LetThemPlay Classic finished competition on the same day the National Championship was scheduled to Begin just 10 miles away. “I just want them to have the memories” Riggs said. “I want them, when they look back in a week, or in a year, or 10 years, on their college golf careers, I want them to remember that they went out like this.” Riggs summed up the event with a final perfect tweet of a picture of the all the competitors and the caption, “They played.”