Update, 8 a.m. ET Tuesday: Ott has received his lost clubs, but he's still without his other luggage. Other players have gotten their clubs back as well, but many, including Meyer, remain club-less as of Tuesday morning.
Harrison Ott didn’t have his clubs. He didn’t even have a collared shirt.
The first-year pro out of Vanderbilt was scheduled to compete in the Monday qualifier for the PGA Tour Canada’s Prince Edward Island Open, but he also was one of about 50 players who were still waiting, as of Monday afternoon, on the airline to deliver their golf clubs and other luggage.
Players who arrived in Prince Edward Island on one of at least three separate Air Canada flights in the past 24 hours reported their golf clubs failing to arrive. That included Ott’s connection from Toronto that landed, after numerous delays, around 2 a.m. Monday.
“There were about 30 players on my flight, and we all go to baggage claim, and the bags start going around and hardly anybody even claims them,” Ott told GolfChannel.com. “Turns out, they were backed-up bags from previous flights who had their bags not make it.
"Not a single golfer got their clubs.”
While some players, including Ott’s roommate, Ollie Osborne, opted to withdraw from the qualifier, Ott decided to improvise. Despite getting less than three hours of sleep after waiting, to no avail, on his bags until about 3:30 a.m., Ott showed up Monday morning at Belvedere Golf Club in Charlottetown hoping to find some usable sticks. He had heard the club was exhausting all efforts to cobble together sets for players to use.
Ott initially received a rental set of cavity-back irons and was contemplating calling it a week – exactly 20 players ended up pulling out of the qualifier – when a member dropped off a set of the same irons and wedges that Ott uses, albeit different shafts and lie angles. He borrowed the head pro’s driver and a putter from another pro, bought two sleeves of balls and a glove, and figured he was good to go. Not quite.
“I was wearing a T-shirt, sweatpants and tennis shoes, so I asked if I needed a collared shirt to play, and they said yes,” Ott said. “So, the pro goes into his office and comes out with two polos for me to wear.”
One polo was plain navy, but it was also long-sleeved. The other was a blue-striped polo with a Coors Light logo, though it had short sleeves. Ott went with the latter.
“I threw it on, untucked, over my sweats,” Ott said, laughing. “I went out there not knowing what to expect. I texted my dad about 45 minutes before that I was playing with rentals, and right before I teed off, he texts back with, ‘Seriously?’”
As Ott described it, 17 irons shots went left and the other one went right on Monday. However, as one of about 12 players who had to use borrowed clubs in the qualifier, Ott shot 4-under 68, highlighted by an eagle on his 12th hole, and was able to earn one of the eight spots into this week’s field at Dundarave Golf Club in Cardigan.
“Crazy,” said Ott, who wasn’t keen on the idea of using the same set for the actual tournament. If anything, he planned, as a last resort, to have some old clubs overnighted to him.
“Hopefully our clubs come,” he added, “though I’m not too positive they will. It’s nothing that anyone could’ve predicted, so it’s hard to get upset about it.”
While Ott played his qualifier, Osborne went to the airport to see if their clubs were on the late-morning flight that arrived. No luck, though Osborne was sent back to the hotel with a “care package” – a white T-shirt, toothbrush and toothpaste. Ott then received an email from Air Canada that his clubs should be arriving on a 6 p.m. flight (initial word from another player was that golf bags were starting to show up from that flight and another from Montreal, but that many players' clubs still didn't arrive). There is another flight after that, one with about 30 players on it, slated to arrive after midnight.
“If those guys on that flight don’t get their bags, that’s just not going to be good,” said Dylan Meyer, who was on Ott’s flight from Toronto into Prince Edward Island and is still without his clubs as well.
“My backup plan is if my clubs don’t show up I’m going to go home. Yeah, you could get a rental set, but at the same time, I feel like that’s just wasting my time doing that. It definitely would suck, but I’m holding onto hope that I got in on one of the first flights and maybe I might get my bag.”
Added Ott: "Anyone who gets in off priority on like Tuesday or Wednesday, or even someone who's on a late flight tonight, it's going to be really tough [for them to get their clubs]."
Taylor Funk remains stuck in Montreal as he's had two flights canceled and has passed the 30-hour mark from his initial arrival time.
"This is beyond absurd at this point," Funk said.
Scott Pritchard, executive director of PGA Tour Canada, said the tour is aware of the luggage issues and has spoken with many of the affected members, many of whom were traveling from last week’s Elk Ridge Open in Saskatoon, where heavy rains and soaked course conditions forced officials to cancel the tournament with some players not even through their first round. Ott got into that event as an alternate and was tied for the lead when the tournament was scrapped.
A few other players such as Ty Strafaci, who withdrew from the Monday qualifier, also had a flight cancellation after the tour opener earlier this month which prevented them from making their U.S. Open final qualifying tee time.
“It’s hard because a lot of stuff that’s happening is completely out of our control," Pritchard said. "We could never have expected this. I know there have been some issues with the airlines post-COVID, and labor shortages, and all the various reasons as to why things are happening the way they are, but, for the most part, the players have been great. They are handling themselves like professionals in a frustrating time.”
For players who competed last week, the PGA Tour wrote a $200,000 check that was split evenly amongst the field, amounting to about $1,300 per player. Pritchard remained hopeful that this week’s crisis would be resolved without further disruption.
“Luckily, it’s only Monday, so we’ve got a bit of time,” he said. “I know being away from your clubs as a professional golfer, these guys are nervous about it, but hopefully things get worked out and hopefully time is on our side here.”