This season’s Class 3A and 4A prep state golf tournaments will take on more of a team feel after changes to the format of the events.
Teams now get the opportunity to qualify an entire five-person squad through their respective district tournaments. Individuals still have the chance to qualify and compete for an individual state title.
“It just feels more like high school sports,” Glacier Peak boys golf coach Jeff Cornish said. “You’re going to go represent your school with five guys versus three or four or two.”
Everett boys coach Darrell Olson echoed that sentiment.
“I think it’s a good deal for golf to go to a pure team championship,” Olson said. “You’ve got the individual part, which is necessary, but we play team golf throughout the course of the year. Therefore, we should have a true team state championship. That’s not to discredit the teams that have done it in the past with fewer than five people or four people but if you’re going to crown a true team champion, then you should do it with the (whole) team competing for that championship. I think it’s a real plus for our sport.”
Each 3A and 4A state tournament will consist of 16 teams and at least 32 individual participants, with allocations of qualifying programs and competitors varying by classification in each district. Each district will send no less than four individual qualifiers and no more than 14, and the exact allocation numbers will be determined by multiplying each district’s team allocations by two.
District 1’s team allocations are two in 4A and four in 3A.
In addition, teams will be allowed to send no more than six players to state and can only compete for a state title by qualifying a team through districts. Previously, Snohomish had won a state title on the boys side in 2009 while only having two golfers compete.
The added emphasis on the team aspect of the event could have a positive impact on the sport, according to Olson.
Olson said that qualifying a full five-man team adds extra emphasis on the competition between a team’s Nos. 4, 5 and 6 golfers throughout the season.
“If that four, five and six guy understands that they’ve got some pretty good golfers on their team and that they might be able to go through qualifying at the district tournament,” Olson said. “what a motivator to want to get better as you move through the season.”
The new format also adds a safety net of sorts for golfers expecting to qualifying individually.
A tough first day at districts can dig a talented player into a hole that’s too much to overcome. But a strong team performance could be a player’s saving grace.
“Golf is weird,” Olson said. “You can be the greatest thing in the world one day and the next day it’s like, ‘What happened?’ You’re gonna have train wrecks, and kids have train wrecks in the (district) tournament.
“But if you have a team that is solid, you can absorb that bad score and still survive it as a team.”
Previously, each district just sent its top-10 individuals from its tournament, which made for an 80-person tournament. Now each tournament will feature at least 112 competitors.
“The main thing I’m thrilled about is more young student-athletes, girls and boys, will be able to say they played at state, which is kind of a big deal,” Cornish said.