Kentucky H.S. golf addresses pace with format change at state
High-school golf is a great place for the next generation of up-and-coming players, but it is not without its challenges. One of those comes from the very beginning level of golfer – a player who often learns the game from the No. 4 or 5 position in the lineup.
For better or worse, it’s issues in that area of the lineup that the Kentucky High School Athletic Association is trying to address with a new format for the boys and girls state golf tournaments.
After a recent year-long review of postseason play by the Kentucky State High School Athletic Association’s Board of Control, several changes have been approved for the upcoming season. Most notably, a new format effectively eliminates the No. 5 player from each team. The state tournament becomes a play-four-count-four event. The review also resulted in a region realignment for the entire state.
The format changed was described this way in a KHSAA release:
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 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.
The format change comes with obvious pace-of-play benefits, even if it does mean one less body gets to participate at the culminating event of the high-school season. As KHSAA commissioner Julian Tacket told Jason Frakes from the Louisville Courier Journal
, that last player is often the cause of pace-of-play issues. Tacket acknowledged that top-tier programs do not have that issue.
The board also approved a series of other changes to the format. For instance, a team’s fifth-place finisher could qualify for the state championship in one of the at-large positions.
“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,” said KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett. “The Board listened to every concern expressed and a wide variety of available data. While all of those with an opinion may not be satisfied, the Board’s determination to find a balanced answer that was for the betterment of both the game and the participants was evident by the comprehensive review and time and effort devoted to the task. Frankly, the championship in this great sport had perhaps been neglected and was in need of updating and I am thankful this Board was not only up to the challenge, but greeted each step of the way with creative thinking and a desire for comprehensive review.”
It's certainly a challenging decision for the KHSAA, and the issue got considerable response on social media on Wednesday.