Had everything gone well, the Grant Union Prospector boys golf team would have placed fifth instead of 12th at the OSAA 3A/2A/1A Golf Championship May 14-15 at Quail Valley Golf Course in Banks.
Markers set at the incorrect yardage and some incorrect directions on the course on day one turned the much-anticipated event into disqualification and disappointment for the Prospectors.
Four Grant Union golfers, as well as eight others, four from Rogue River and four from Columbia Christian, were disqualified on the first day of the tournament for hitting from the wrong set of tees at hole No. 13, the red instead of the blue markers.
“There was a discrepancy between the yardage on the scorecard (172) and where the tee box was actually set by Quail Valley Golf Course (212),” said Steve Walker, OSAA’s sports information director.
Grant Union head coach Ron Lundbom said, “OSAA didn’t make sure that Quail Valley staff had the markers at the correct yardage.”
A coach from another team told the first group, which included Prospector Duane Stokes, to hit from the red markers instead of blue at No. 13, because it was the correct distance listed on the scorecard.
A second group, which included Prospector Garrett Lenz, followed the first. Then a third group, which included Prospector Kellen Shelley, advanced toward the blue markers, and members of that group said a marshal pointed them toward the red markers.
Lundbom said his team “did what the marshal told them to do,” but added, “Kids are not supposed to listen to the marshals.”
A volunteer marshal at the 13th hole was mistaken for a rules official, Lundbom said.
Lundbom said, although three players and three coaches said the marshal directed them to the red markers, the marshal denied it.
Grant Union’s athletic director Jason Miller weighed in, saying athletes are taught to respect those in authority.
“At 16 or 17, if a marshal tells them to hit from the red tee, are they going to question that authority?” Miller said.
The three groups realized they were disqualified after they turned in their scorecards.
“It’s unfortunate that kids were put in this position by adults, but it doesn’t change the fact that they had a great season and scored well at the tournament,” Miller added.
Grant Union’s Parker Manitsas, golfing in a group after the mistake at No. 13 was discovered, finished with a score of 106 on day one and 116 on day two.
Had their disqualified scores counted, Grant Union would have been in fourth place on day one.
On day two, Shelley had an 84, Lenz 88, Duane Stokes 92 and Devon Stokes 98.
Senior Duane Stokes said he felt there were other options for OSAA to take, but “they decided to stick hard and fast to the rule.”
“It feels like what we’ve worked hard for this spring — they didn’t take into consideration for their decision,” he said. “Instead of thinking about the kids, they chose what was easiest for them.”
He added, “I’m happy with the way we handled it — it wasn’t childish. We take what we get and move on.”
OSAA executive director Peter Weber said in an email to the Eagle that “mistakes were made on a number of fronts” regarding the events at Quail Valley on May 14.
“The USGA Rules of Golf, under which the championships were being conducted, are well known for their rigidity and don’t allow for the solutions some have suggested,” Weber said, adding, OSAA has begun a thorough review of its golf course setup and event communication procedures to prevent this type of situation from reoccurring.
Lundbom said the problem could have been fixed if the officials had moved the blue markers to the yardage reflected on the scorecard after the mistake had been realized.
He also pointed out USGA rule 33-7, which states, “A penalty of disqualification may in exceptional individual cases be waived, modified or imposed if the Committee considers such action warranted.”
Lundbom said the OSAA officials’ statements leave the impression that the 12 boys teed off from the wrong markers of their own accord. He added, they would have teed off from the blue markers if they hadn’t been told otherwise.
“It stings,” he said, but added, “We all decided to take the high road — all three teams decided on that.”
Lundbom said they pushed ahead on day two, letting their scores speak for themselves.
“We’ll continue to try harder next year, and all the kids ended up on a high note, the boys and the girls,” he said.