JIM HUNSLEY: Postseason golf format could be flawed

2012-09-19T17:00:00Z JIM HUNSLEY: Postseason golf format could be flawedJim Hunsley Times Columnist nwitimes.com
September 19, 2012 5:00 pm  • 

Beechwood Golf Course isn't the site for Saturday's girls golf regional, a fact that is up for debate with some local coaches.

The IHSAA changed its format this season, cutting down the number of regional site from seven to five. Two extra individual spots have been added for the state finals, but local girls teams must now travel to the Battle Ground in Lafayette for the regional.

Crown Point's Jon Haas appears to be one of the most vocal dissenting voices from a pool of local schools in play Saturday.

One of his biggest issues deals with the availability for practice rounds.

"It's a huge difference for accessibility for my players," he said. "It's an hour-plus drive away plus the time change. If our players left after school, I don't believe they can get a full round in.

"That's a huge disadvantage."

Travel concerns and new surroundings might not trip up teams like Chesterton and Valparaiso, but bubble teams like Crown Point might be edged out for the final team spot by host Lafayette Jeff or another school with more familiarity with the course.

One option that Haas, Lake Central's Chris Rossiano and Munster's Bill Smitka agree upon is a traveling regional site, but that might not take place.

"To my knowledge, the idea of rotating sites -- which would benefit the many -- has not been supported by the few schools that have a home-course advantage," Smitka said.

Is that really in the best interest of the players? Doesn't seem like it.

To some coaches, that problem also arises with the new state format. All state qualifiers play both days, but the number of participants has been pared. Four more individual spots open up, but six teams have been removed from the finals.

"I personally think the state finals format is awful," Rossiano said. "I like the idea of two days for everyone, but I think it's terrible to cut the number of kids going down to state.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and as many kids possible should get a shot."

The coaches appeared to have had little say in the format change, and that's what bothers me the most. When I posed the question, not one of them talked about a formal notification or a meeting to be able to voice their concerns.

"The problem I have is that the best interest of all student-athletes should be considered whenever a decision is made," Smitka said, "and the current system could certainly use some modification to make a better and more equitable tournament for all participants."

What's worse is the same thing could happen in the spring for boys golf, since the regional sites have yet to be announced.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at jim.hunsley@nwi.com.

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