VUU golf team clinches CIAA title

Fred Jeter | 4/26/2019, 6 a.m.
After a lengthy snooze, the Virginia Union University golf team has emerged from hibernation. The Panthers displayed considerable talent and ...
E. Lee Coble

After a lengthy snooze, the Virginia Union University golf team has emerged from hibernation.

The Panthers displayed considerable talent and depth April 18 and 19 in winning its first CIAA golf championship since 1971. That was four years before Tiger Woods was born and at a time when African-Americans were barred from playing on many private courses.

“This was a very special season,” said VUU Coach E. Lee Coble. “Forty-eight years is a long time between championships. I promise it won’t be another 48 years.” 

In runaway fashion, “Coble’s Clubbers” captured the eight-school event at The Club at Viniterra in New Kent County with a 607 score. That was 15 strokes better than runner-up Livingstone College of North Carolina.

Individually, members of the VUU team finished fourth (Paul Meints), fifth (Alkin Barkley), sixth (Allan Day), eighth (Sergio Escalante) and 11th (Travon Willis.)

The Panthers posted an overall average score of 75.8 for the two rounds on Viniterra’s Par 72 layout. Meints was the team medalist with a six-over 150 for 36 holes.

Meints, a senior from Texas, and Barkley, a freshman from Johannesburg, South Africa, made the All-CIAA Tournament team and were also selected co-Rookies of the Year.

Meints and Barkley were joined on the All-Conference team by Day and Willis.

Prior to winning the overall CIAA Tournament hosted by VUU, the Panthers had won three CIAA events — the Mid-Major, CIAA South and CIAA North.

And they’re not through. Next up is the NCAA Division II Regional May 8 through 11 in Greensburg, Pa. The NCAA Division II Championships will be May 20 through 24 at The Resort at Glade Springs in Daniels, W.Va. No historically black college or university has ever made a serious run at the crown in the event going back to 1963.

Fayetteville State University’s Sean Burke won medalist honors at Viniterra with a one-hole playoff victory over DeJuan Powell of Johnson C. Smith University. Both shot 147 for 36 holes.

Coach Coble, a native of Mebane, N.C., came to VUU four years ago after serving as the first African-American president of the Virginia State Golf Association. The coach will need to hit the recruiting trail. Meints, Day and Escalante are all seniors.

Tiger left mark

While historically black colleges and universities have never made their mark in NCAA golf, there was one player of color who left an indelible impression.

In 1996, Stanford University’s 20-year-old Tiger Woods was the NCAA Division I medalist at The Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tenn., shooting a three-under par 285 for four rounds.

Tiger joined the PGA circuit the next year and claimed the Masters Tournament in April 1997 by a record margin of 12 strokes.

Golf talent runs in the Woods family. Tiger’s niece, Cheyenne Woods, won the 2011 ACC title competing for Wake Forest University of North Carolina.