The Michigan High School Athletic Association is mobilizing a test period in early 2019 in an effort to curtail what appears to be some rampant cheating among its high school golf teams.
According to The Detroit Free Press, a pilot program will be rolled out for the boys spring golf season in which players will be allowed to use an app on their phone to post their scores in real time, thus allowing the public and officials to monitor discrepancies that are seen on the course and on the scorecard.
— Golfweek (@golfweek) December 28, 2018
Also in play during this test period are three other instances in which players can use their phones: calling a coach or tournament administration for a health or safety issue, contacting a rules official, and use as a distance measuring device — this is a pretty good one.
All of these uses of phones are legal, according to the USGA
“Making scores public makes it available for all to see, for all to look at and for all to make sure that what is being put in the system actually is what the kids are shooting,” Cody Inglis, the associate director at the MHSAA, said. “If a kid is scoring out of his mind, then you can bet that they will attract more attention and eyeballs on them.”
The hope is that the public nature of real-time scoring will force players to think twice about entering a fudged score into the app.
“To me, it all boils down to transparency,” Nathan Oake, an MHSAA Golf Committee member and coach at Hartland High School, told The Free Press. “I cannot think of another sport where you have to wait five to six hours to find out what the score is. I think we are moving in a very positive direction with a discussion about using more live scoring as both a preventative tool and a tool for enhancement of the competition.”
ICYMI: Live scoring to debut in Michigan high school golf events this spring in an attempt to promote honest, accurate score reporting. https://t.co/CMr2WvlSeB
— AmateurGolf.com (@amateurgolfcom) December 28, 2018
The impetus for this trial period came as a result of seemingly nefarious stroke-shaving at the MHSAA regional golf tournament this past year. Two high schools posted team scores well below their average — 45 strokes better than their average score in one instance, which was a state-record — and advanced to the state tournament.
With no video proof or eye-witness accounts to dispute the signed and attested scorecards, both teams advanced to the state tournament where standard three-hole score verification was implemented. The two schools who had their regional qualifying scores questioned finished in the bottom two spots on the leaderboard.
The trial period will result in a vote by the state athletic association’s Representative Council, which could result in a permanent rule change as early as fall of 2019.