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Cress Pass: The system doesn't treat area golfers very well

Cress Pass: The system doesn't treat area golfers very well

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Sports Reporter

Kenny Cress, sportswriter for the Santa Maria Times since September of 2000. BA in political science from Cal Poly Pomona. BA in journalism from Cal State Northridge.

A combination of league duals and league finals will determine the 2019 Ocean and Mountain League girls golf team champions.

When it comes to who will get the other top league rewards in both leagues — who wins the individual league MVP honor, who advances to area competition, who wins All-League honors — everything that has happened before the league finals amounts to a season-long warm-up.

That is because, according to CIF Central Section policy, any team or individual, including the league champion, can only advance to area competition if they shoot a qualifying score at their respective 18-hole league finals.

They have one shot. That’s it.

Meanwhile I’ve been told, by directive of both leagues’ athletic directors, unlike in the past results in the league finals alone will determine girls golf individual league champions and All-League teams for 2019.

Under the old system, cumulative regular season stroke averages combined with league finals results determined individual Ocean and Mountain league champs.

I think the old system was better than the new one. Much better, in fact. Regardless, multiple area coaches have said, the league coaches, the ones whose people must deal with the new format, did not vote on this.

If the new format for determining individual league champs is what the majority of coaches in the leagues want, OK, though I’m skeptical that the new format is what the majority of Ocean and Mountain league coaches, in fact, want.

If I was a coach, I wouldn’t want it for the same reason I suspect at least most of the Ocean and Mountain league coaches don’t want it - come the league finals, the people who labored for about two months to get to the top of their respective leagues get no treat.

Junking this system wouldn’t be hard. The leagues need only return to the perfectly workable system they had before. The system in which dual results and league finals combined determine the team league champ was wisely kept in place.

When it comes to any decision like this affecting their teams, coaches should at least have a say, if not by final vote than by consulting with their athletic directors.

The sectional requirements for who qualifies for the golf postseason badly need to be overhauled. Any team and individual golf league champion should automatically advance to postseason competition. Period.

It’s good that any team and individual can advance to sectional play if they hit a required score at league finals. However, it’s their only chance to do it.

Central Section guidelines allow swimmers, and track and field competitors to advance to the postseason if they meet a pre-set standard at any time during the season. Golfers should get the same chance.

I know that required scores to advance are for an 18-hole league finals, and typical regular season competitions consist of nine holes. That can be problematic.

However, I think the rules could be changed so that teams and individuals can qualify if they meet a nine-hole score requirement at any time of the season or shoot a required score at an 18-hole league finals.

As it stands now, other than the format for determining league champs, the system is similar to the final exam determining 100 percent of a student’s final grade.

It’s true that in other area sports - wrestling, cross country, track and field, swimming - league finals determine individual league champions.

It is also true that golf league finals are unlike those in other sports.

How swiftly, or slowly, greens play, the distance from tee to green, how many and how tough the hazards are - these can vary widely from course to course around the league.

There is no other sport in any league finals in which the hosting team has such a big advantage. The host team’s golfers have practiced at their course all year and competed there for about half of it. The other golfers have played the course maybe once or twice a season.

True, athletes in the other sports have also compete at the host team’s site maybe once or twice a year. However, no running tracks, pools, tennis courts or wrestling mats in the area leagues vary as much as the golf courses do.

Just because sports such as cross country, track and field, swimming, tennis and wrestling have a particular set of criteria to determine top league honors doesn’t mean golf has to follow suit.

Barring an unfortunate circumstance, no golf league champion should be done after the league finals.

I’m all for league finals being high stakes affairs, but throw people a bone for the work they do during the regular season, please.

A big finish meaning everything is fine when it comes to determining who wins a race. It shouldn’t be the sole criteria for determining who’s happy after a high school golf league finals is over.

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Sports Reporter

Kenny Cress, sportswriter for the Santa Maria Times since September of 2000. BA in political science from Cal Poly Pomona. BA in journalism from Cal State Northridge.

Related to this story

The well-traveled Kayla Kling, the ace of the Cabrillo High School girls tennis team, has lived in six states and the country of England in her short life. The 15-year-old Cabrillo junior was born in Texas and later lived in South Carolina, England, Louisiana, Kansas and Nebraska before moving to the Lompoc Valley.

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