KHSAA alters postseason golf format

Published 12:29 pm Friday, February 22, 2019

With so many concerns about the pace of play during championship play in late fall, the KHSAA decided this week to revise the postseason format for golf. But local golf coaches say the revisions are bad for high school teams and players.

In past years, the format for advancement to the state tournament was for the top two teams from each region, along with the top four girls at-large and top three boys at-large from each region, to qualify for state. Following the board’s decision in January to revise the state qualifying team to four players, additional clarifications and changes were needed in the competition rules.

Changes made include: The new state qualifying format will result in the four-person winner and runner-up teams from each region, plus an additional four at-large qualifiers from each region (plus tied players from that region if such ties exist) advancing to state. This change also allows for 12 additional individual qualifiers from regions throughout the state in boys’ golf and brings two more teams and four more qualifying individuals to the girls’ state tournament.

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Based on their decision in January, the board approved the changes in order to address a few of the more prevalent issues with the offseason format:

— Teams may enter up to five golfers in regional play

— The team score in the regional tournament will be based on the lowest four scores, and those four individuals shall compose the team for state entry

— The fifth-place finisher from a team could qualify for the state championship as an individual if qualifying in one of the top four at-large positions

In a press release, KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett said, “The Board took several meetings over several months to gather data and feedback as it undertook this thorough review. In the end, there is strong feeling on the Board that these changes will strengthen the competition pool at the state championship event and give more students from throughout the state an opportunity to qualify, while at the same time addressing longstanding concerns over the pace of play.”

Middlesboro High School boys’ golf coach Allen Wilford is against the changes.

“I think it should be overturned,” Wilford said. “It’s puts coaches, players and parents in a tough spot. Say we have one through five playing for us and our number-two guy isn’t playing so well, but our number-five is, do we drop the number-two guy who has been one of our best players all year long, or do we drop the fifth man who we wouldn’t have been there without to begin with? You can look to the professional levels and see that golf is one of those sports where even the best player could win a tournament one week, and not even make the cut the next week. I’m pretty against this decision and hopefully it’s overturned.”

Middlesboro assistant girls’ golf coach Greg Lasley also disagrees with the board’s ruling.

“Quite frankly, I think it’s ludicrous,” Lasley said. “I don’t think the KHSAA got a lot of coaches’ input on this, because it puts us in a tight spot. If they were wanting to speed up the pace, there are plenty of other ways to do that. I believe that it’s unfair to the players. You could go all year long with five golfers playing really well, then it comes down time for the postseason, and you have to get rid of one. There are a multitude of scenarios that could take place and cause a team to be disqualified. What if you had four players on the course practicing, one of them gets injured and can’t go the next day? You’d be disqualified for not having enough people to play.

“I just think it’s the wrong decision, and it needs to be overturned.”