It’s every scholastic athlete’s dream to capture a state title, so when a group of 12 Oregon golfers were disqualified from the state tournament at Eagle Crest Resort for hitting from the wrong set of tees, they were understandably upset. As it turns out, their surprising disqualification from the Oregon 3A/2A/1A boys golf state championship — what championship-level golfer hits from the wrong set of tees? — came with a caveat: It wasn’t their fault at all.
As reported by Golfworld, the 12 players whose scores were disqualified from the tournament universally pointed to a rules official’s direction as the reason they hit from where they did. Their coaches were even involved in the decision to hit from the red tees as opposed to the officially marked blue tips, and also pointed a finger at a rules official. Then the rules official denied he did anything wrong.
Here’s more from Golfworld:
“My coach said, ‘You need to figure this out,’ ” (Columbia Christian athletic director Bart) Valentine says. “Well, [the rules official] didn’t.” The second group followed by playing from the red tees as well.
The third pairing did not leave anything up to chance, approaching the official for the ruling.
“After we had finished the 12th, we walked to the the next hole, towards the blue tees,” says James Gordon of Rogue River. “After checking the scorecard and seeing that the yardage didn’t match up, we asked the marshal.”
Rogue River’s (head golf coach Rob) Isom was at the 13th hole when this occurred.
“[Gordon’s] playing partners started at the blue markers when the official said, ‘Hey, you guys are down here,’ motioning to the reds,” Isom says.
“My kid and the Grant Union kid heard this, too,” AD Valentine affirms.
At this point four different pairings had shot from incorrect tees, as instructed by a marshall who was apparently working the tournament as a volunteer. As their balls reached the green, another course marshall drove over on a golf cart and demanded to know which tees they shot from. The athletes answered, were allegedly barked at to only use blue tees going forward, and continued to complete their rounds. It was only then that they were told they were being disqualified.
Apparently the event’s rules committee voted to disqualify the golfers, but they may have done so under false auspices; the players, coaches and the rules official in question were brought together in front of the committee, only for the official to flat out deny he gave the group the wrong instructions.
“He flat out lied. There are the three kids who are in the group that heard him say it, plus a coach was standing right there who confirmed it.” Red River golfer Joe Lafever told Golfworld. “Did the kids just see a marshal and decide as a group, ‘Oh, he’s right there, let’s just say he told us too.’ … No, no!! Why on earth would they do that?”
For it’s part, the Oregon Schools Activities Association (OSAA) has decided there is nothing it can do to retroactively make the 12 players’ rounds count. Instead, it is focused on getting to the bottom of what really happened on the course with the explicit intent on ensuring it never happens again, as OSAA Executive Director Pete Weber made clear in an interview with Golfworld:
“Everyone involved, from the OSAA to event personnel to the coaches and even the players themselves, has the opportunity to learn and grow from this situation.”