Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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There is something wrong with the high school state golf format when, in an interview, the first thing out of Steamboat Springs High School senior golfer Alan Capistron’s mouth is this:
“You try to approach it as any other tournament,” Capistron said about Tuesday’s regional tournament in Montrose. “But that’s kind of impossible. It’s the biggest tournament of the year. Technically, the other tournaments don’t even matter.”
Steamboat has played in eight tournaments this season, leading up to Tuesday’s regional tournament. Most of the state has done the same.
But essentially, none of those eight tournaments mean anything at this point.
Regionals provide the lone opportunity to qualify for the state golf tournament, on Oct. 4 and 5 in Colorado Springs.
It used to be that golfers could pre-qualify for state by averaging a designated score during the season.
That seemed fair and provided relevance to the regular season.
But for whatever reason, the Colorado High School Activities Association changed that.
Sure, all golfers didn’t play the same exact course, so pre-qualifying presented some challenges.
Anyone who’s played golf knows shooting a 78 on one course doesn’t necessarily transfer to another course.
But when qualifying comes down to one day and one chance, it’s not fair.
Imagine if it was like this for other sports.
Let’s just say the last game for volleyball, football and soccer determines if teams qualify for the state tournament. All the games leading up to that were just warmups.
That doesn’t make much sense and takes away from the regular season.
Pre-qualifying in golf seems to make too much sense. It wouldn’t be that hard to do. Golf courses have slope ratings that would make it possible to compare a 78 on one course to a 78 on another.
Having a designated average golfers had to hit, say, for easy purposes, 74, would make high school golf more fair and interesting.
A small percentage of high school golfers actually can average 74 for a season. But those who do should be pre-qualified for state.
Imagine a golfer running through the regular season, winning every tournament around and then coming down with the flu the night before regionals.
Those eight wins prior would mean nothing. That sickness on the one day would mean everything for said golfer.
Of course, there is something to be said about performing well on the big stage. The one-day tournament usually favors those golfers who can squelch their nerves the best.
But if high school golf is going to have a regular season — and there are zero signs pointing toward the regular season leaving — then golfers absolutely should be able to pre-qualify.
It seems like the only fair and decent thing to do.
— To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org