Players input live scoring at Arizona Intercollegiate

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With the recent departure of California's Michael Kim to the play-for-pay ranks, there might have been a concern on how the Golden Bears might look this spring. With sophomore James Yoon in the lineup for the first time this year, Cal cruised to a 14-shot victory at the Arizona Intercollegiate on Tuesday. Cal was led by seniors Brandon Hagy and Joel Stalter, who shared medalist honors as the Golden Bears won their fourth title in six starts for 2013-14.

But, that might not have been the headline coming out of Sewailo Golf Club in Tucson. Arizona head coach Jim Anderson elected to use a live-scoring format that is somewhat new to college golf.

Anderson said that during the Pac-12 golf coaches meeting, someone had mentioned that UCLA head coach Derek Freeman had used players – not volunteers – to input scores during the Gifford Collegiate in early November.

“I thought I would like to try it,” said Anderson, whose team placed second. “We could have gotten the volunteers, but I like the idea of truly getting live scoring.”

A designated player in each group would input scores after each hole using a mobile device – in most cases, his cell phone. Entering scores after each hole is more timely than every three holes, which is what we would see in most college events. In a pairing of No. 1 players, it might be a player from team A, then the player from team B in the group of No. 2 players and so on. One team of players would not be solely responsible. If a player did not have a phone or a data plan, organizers simply found another player in the group who was willing to transmit the scores.

This method of live scoring certainly caught the attention of many in the social-media world. The question was asked via Twitter:

Lance Ringler, @GolfweekRingler: "Some events may have college players do live scoring on their mobile phones during a round... Not sure what to think about this. You?"

Anderson said the 54-hole event with players doing the live scoring was not an issue.

“From my perspective, I think it was fantastic," he said. "I think the kids embraced it, and coaches in the field helped sell it. Honestly, we had no negative feedback about doing it.”

The thought of letting players have permission to look at their phones during a tournament round seems like a slippery slope. It introduces the potential for texting advice regarding wind, club selection and other conditions to teammates. Many who commented on Twitter questioned the method of live scoring.

• JC Deacon, @realjcdeacon: "@GolfweekRingler the last thing they need is another excuse to have their phone in their hand."

• Jack Lempke, @JackLempke57: "@GolfweekRingler @legendsjrtour terrible idea. Don't need anything else to worry about during a round. Also opens door to cheating."

Kevin Pendley, @golfcoachkp: "@GolfweekRingler bad idea... one more thing to distract players and no way to police texting and advice to fellow teammates... #nothanks"

“It was very, very simple to pick up. I really think as it evolves we are going to see a lot more of it,” Anderson said. “I really did not think that it was a distraction.

"Not one single coach said anything to me that they did not like this."

Something that might have made the process easier in the Arizona Intercollegiate is that players rode in carts. A definite challenge might be using this method with players walking in rain.

Anderson pointed out that not one coach mentioned any issues with this new venture and noted that out of the more than 200 cards there were less than a dozen cards that differed when scorecards were checked at the conclusion of each round.

Seems to be the theme – most players and coaches who have been involved in this don’t seem to be bothered by it.

• Matt Thurmond, @MattThurmond: "@GolfweekRingler we did it at UCLA event. Most were skeptical before but liked it. Just as easy as scorecard and more accurate and timely."

• Frank Darby, @Fdarbs: "@GolfweekRingler We did it last spring @ UCIrvine event. Worked fine. Think my guy figured out how to get on web and surfed all 36 holes!"

Maybe you shouldn’t knock it until you try it.

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