Waiting another year to putt

Arrival of women’s golf to SPU postponed

Uriah Aguon, staff writer

SPU student Adam Haagenson lines up his driver behind the ball before teeing off during a round at West Seattle Golf Course in Seattle, Wash. on Jan. 27, 2023. (Rio Giancarlo)

During fall quarter of 2022, Seattle Pacific University athletics announced their plans to add women’s golf to the department. The program was meant to debut the following fall quarter; however, SPU has announced their decision to postpone these plans until 2024.

Christian Bond, assistant athletic director for communications, named the lack of a permanent athletic director or school president as the reason for this decision.

“With all of the transitions the university and the department are going through – the presidential search as well as our search for a permanent athletic director – we just felt it was best for the program itself to kind of hold that off one year,” Bond said. “It gives us time to put some people in place and then make a decision on the coaches and the direction of the program.” 

SPU announced last week that Deana Porterfield will become SPU’s new president this July. One of Porterfield’s many tasks as president will be to assist with the hiring of a new athletic director, who will in turn be tasked with shaping the new SPU golf program. 

“We just need to slow down and wait and do what’s best for our program,” Bond said. “Once the new athletic director gets to their spot … we’ll start to look for who’s going to be the head coach and how we can bring them in there and help them get acclimated into SPU. That coach will go out and do the recruiting that they need to do and learn enough about SPU to kind of make it a place for future student-athletes to want to come and golf and be competitive.” 

Although Interim Athletic Director Dan Lepse was brought in after the announcement of the new golf program was made, he has been supportive of Bond and the rest of the department’s decision.

“I think it’s a good decision. With the imminent hiring of a new school president, it’s probably a good thing that that president would have an opinion … on how they want to run things, like, head coach selection would be a big thing …. I’m sure they’d want to have some influence in that decision,” Lepse said.

Lepse and Bond were interviewed prior to the university’s announcement of Porterfield as their new president. At that time, Bond knew the conclusion of the presidential search was the first step to starting up the program, but he still felt worried about the timeline and the pressure it could have.

“Once that athletic director gets settled, we’ll start to look for a women’s golf coach …. That’s another thing we have to be careful with,” Bond said. “The hiring gets tougher the longer we wait. If someone comes along and we tell them they got six months before their first competition, it’s going to be very hard on them. That’s not something we’re trying to do to the future coach.”

Bond and Lepse agree an ideal search would begin in the summer or early fall of 2023 and conclude by or before the early spring of 2024.

“Fall of 2024 would be [the team’s] first competitions. It’s primarily a spring sport, … but they do play some tournaments in the fall that count toward their competitive season,” Bond said. “It’s a little bit complicated because some sports can play fall games or spring games against different schools, and those don’t count toward their competitive season. Golf is different because fall is not their season, but they can still play tournaments and compete for something that does matter for championships, so it’s pretty interesting.”

Despite these setbacks, the athletic department remains confident in the addition of women’s golf. 

“I don’t think there’s any hesitation, … but there are just too many moving parts,” Bond said.  “And it’s about doing what’s best for the future student-athletes… and trying to make sure we can get started on the right foot.”