It turns out the format for the KHSAA state girls and boys golf tournaments won’t be changing as much as previously expected.
The KHSAA Board of Control conducted its first meeting of the 2019-20 academic year on Thursday to finalize how the tournament would be structured, which had been a source of controversy earlier this year.
The board isn’t going forward with its original plan, announced in February, to cut down the number of players allowed in the tournament from five to four. Following the push-back that decision received, the board eventually decided to continue the current model that allowed five golfers to be entered, with the lowest four scores counting toward the team total.
The plan was proposed in hopes that reducing team size would strengthen the overall field and improve pace of play. The board thought removing less-talented golfers would alleviate some of the problems they were having with high scores.
Previously: KHSAA votes to allow just 4 players per team in state golf tournament
“Clearly there were many issues identified not only with the prior format, but also other issues surrounding golf and participation levels as the board conducted its first comprehensive review of golf in many years,” KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett said. “There are no easy answers. KHSAA Championships are not simply for elite programs and schools flush with participants and historic past performances, nor are they solely for team competition.”
After several current and former high school golf coaches took to social media to voice their displeasure with the decision, the old format was restored with some stipulations, including that only the 12 teams that win their region will advance to the state tournament. Previously, the top 2 teams advanced.
“They’re just not as good,” Tackett said back in February. “Now, you have elite programs that their fifth player could be the No. 1 on some teams. … By and large, that’s not the case. The 150s on the girls side and the 100 scores on the boys side are generally the fifth-place golfer in a region that may not be as strong.”
The regional advancement formula for individual players be reviewed after the 2020 season.
Sacred Heart golf coach Mackenzie Moir was against the original plan, but said her main concern was keeping a fifth player during the tournament.
“I just think it would’ve been tough to have a girl that plays for me the whole year at that fifth spot, and then here comes the biggest tournament of the year and I have to tell her that she can’t go,” Moir said. “(For) golf in general, it can be a struggle to promote the game or get players for your team. Eliminating that fifth spot wouldn’t do anything to help … I’m glad they kept that fifth player in the format.”
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Former Central Hardin golf coach and current regional tournament manager Chris Adams is not happy with this outcome, though. He thinks the board’s condition to no longer allow runner-ups to be eligible for the team championship will exclude potential tournament winners and believes there is a better way to strengthen the field of play.
“Cutting those runner-ups, I don’t see how that expands competition,” Adams said. “The thing that we came up with was to add another round (to the postseason) … We have (so many) people in our tournament yet we only have one round to qualify.
“We (coaches) still want to make golf better. We want to see the game grow. Hopefully after this year we can still come up with something to make it better.”