Kentucky limits golfers to 4 per team in state high school tournaments

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Kentucky limits golfers to 4 per team in state high school tournaments

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Kentucky limits golfers to 4 per team in state high school tournaments

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – Hoping to strengthen the overall field and improve pace of play, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s Board of Control on Tuesday voted to make significant changes to the format of the boys and girls state golf tournaments.

The biggest change involves the number of golfers who can qualify from each team. The current format features five players on a team, with the top four scores counting toward the team score. The new format will involve cutting the fifth player for the state tournament, allowing just four players on each team.

At last year’s state tournaments held at Bowling Green Country Club, 20 boys and 82 girls posted first-round scores of 90 or higher.

“The fifth player in a lot of situations was the cause of the pace-of-play problems,” Commissioner Julian Tackett said. “They’re just not as good. 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 changes were the result of realignment of golf regions for the entire state, with 12 regions now established for both boys and girls.

The top two teams from each regional will qualify for the state tournament, and the top four golfers not among one of the top two teams also will qualify. That number hasn’t changed for girls, but previously only three at-large individuals qualified on the boys side.

Also, the No. 5 golfer on a qualifying team still can make the state tournament as an individual if his regional score is good enough. Coaches will not be required to take the top four scorers from the regional tournament to the state tournament.

With 12 golfers from each region, a total of 144 will qualify for the state tournament. That number is down from 156 for boys and 154 for girls.

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“I think you’re going to see a better golfer take the place — in most cases — of a less-talented golfer,” Tackett said. “That’s what you’ve traded here.”

Several current and former high school golf coaches — including Bowling Green’s Adam Whitt, Ballard’s Pat Heitz and Central Hardin’s Chris Adams — took to social media to voice their displeasure with the decision, primarily making the point that a fifth golfer who has been part of a team all season no longer could make it to the state tournament.

Tackett said the Board of Control must make decisions that benefit the entire state, not just elite programs.

“This board has a challenge here,” Tackett said. “They have to represent those schools that don’t even have a full team. Getting those at-large people is good for some of these schools that only have two or three golfers.”

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