MURRAY— The Kentucky High School Athletic Association Board of Control made some significant changes regarding the format of the state golf tournament during their first organizational meeting of the 2019-20 academic year last Thursday.

In an official press release, the KHSAA announced a multitude of changes that will have quite an impact on the pace of play and field size.

“After reviewing feedback following its earlier decision to change the team format to a four-person squad at the state tournament (which was a format of the tournament in past years), the Board of Control elected to revisit the issue at its July meeting. After significant discussion, the Board eventually settled on a final resolution to address its original concerns with the size of the field, match its boys and girls alignment, ensure all schools have an opportunity to participate in the championship regardless of squad size and complete the tournament during the mid-fall season while also addressing the team composition feedback.

After additional discussion, the board settled on a recommendation from the work session discussion to restore the play-5, count-4 model at the state championship with the following conditions:

1. Four or five players may be entered at the regional level with the lowest four scores constituting a team score.

2. The winning team at the region qualifying for the state tournament with four to five golfers comprising a team at the state tournament with the lowest four scores comprising the team score and team substitution provisions will remain as they are in current rules.

3. For 2019 and 2020, the next seven individual finishers not on the qualifying team advance to the state tournament. 

4. Only the 12 qualifying regional winners are eligible for the team championship regardless of the number of individuals that quality from a team at region play.

5. Pace of play, both from a length of the round and individual hole standards, will be a continued emphasis with staff reviewing with Golf House of Kentucky the need for continued emphasis and the KHSAA producing, well in advance, additional hole-by-hole pace of play guidance for the state championship course.

6. Continual review will be done of the alignment in golf to determine the options for increasing the number of regions as a means of enticing newer programs to be created and older ones expanded due to advancement opportunities as well as addressing region entry over-crowding issues.

7. The regional advancement formula for individuals will be reviewed after 2020 in the event of the need for adjustment in state-qualifying based on region size for the future.

8. Following the 2020 tournament, any further adjustments will be implemented with a process for continual review.

9. All 12 region qualifying teams will play both rounds of the state tournament.

10. The top 42 individuals from the first day of play (plus any ties involving the 42nd position) will also play both rounds of the state tournament.

The most noticeable change is that teams must now win their regional tournament to qualify for the state championship. Last season’s state champs on the girl’s side, Lexington Christian Academy, wouldn’t have been eligible for the title last season under the new rules. They finished as runners-up in Region 7 but ultimately took home the state championship. That will no longer be possible as more emphasis will be placed on team success at the regional level.

“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,” said KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett. “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. The Board has the daunting requirement of also ensuring there is an opportunity for students from all levels of involvement, whether the school has one golfer on their roster or 40.”

Tackett said the most important aspect of these competitions is for student-athletes to be able to experience the post-season.

“The board has charted a course to address these issues and looked at many options. Clearly, it is not the role of the KHSAA to rigidly implement copies of events at other levels of play, and we are thankful when our students get the opportunity at those levels. But for the vast majority of high school students, there will be no college or professional opportunities and for the 94% who won’t play competitively after high school (per NCAA statistics), it is critical that all of them have opportunities to experience the best participation opportunity around, a high school postseason championship.”

The Board also finalized the schedule for the 2019 state football finals on Thursday, accepting a recommendation to set the championship schedule at Kroger Field as follows:

• Friday, Dec. 6 – 1A – 2 p.m., 3A – 7 p.m.

• Saturday, Dec. 7 – 2A – 1 p.m., 4A – 4:30 p.m., 5A – 8 p.m.

• Sunday, Dec. 8 – 6A – 2 p.m.

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