The self-policing aspect of tournament golf—at all levels—was demonstrated clearly Tuesday night.
At some point on their trip back to Mukwonago High School after earning the second and final state boys golf team tournament spot at the Janesville Parker Sectional, a storm cloud developed in one of the two vans the Indians took to Janesville.
Hannah Schultz, an Indians assistant coach, complimented junior Cooper Barry for his round, especially for his final nine of 38 after he had a pair of 6s.
Barry must have furrowed his brow, or maybe Schultz—who had followed Cooper on his round at the Riverside Golf Course--questioned the score. Barry, who knew he signed a card that had him shooting a 42--evidently made it clear that he had not shot a 38.
That’s when the one-day sectional began turning into a three-day affair—but only after a Zoom call Wednesday morning convinced the WIAA to reverse an original decision to let the erroneous scores stand.
So at 8:45 a.m. today, 10 golfers—five each from Milton and Mukwonago—will tee off on No. 10 at Riverside Golf Course in Janesville to finalize the Division 1 sectional meet that started Tuesday morning.
The team will the lowest combined score among its four lowest scores on No 10 will qualify for the team competition of the WIAA Division 1 State Tournament that will be held Monday and Tuesday at Wild Rock golf course in Wisconsin Dells.
If the four lowest scores tie, the group of 10 moves onto No. 11.
For Milton High golf coach Kirk Wieland, the hours after play had been completed Tuesday involved a range of emotions. Wieland, like everyone else, had left Riverside thinking Beloit and Mukwonago had earned the two team tournament spots for Wild Rock.
Wieland knew his son--Red Hawks freshman Brett--and sophomore Deegan Riley had qualified as individuals by shooting 74 and 78, respectively.
Computer gets the blame
Then he got the news about the error—caused by a computer glitch in the WIAA scoring software. It was not the only error detected in sectional scoring throughout the state.
Wieland’s first inkling something wasn’t correct came when he got a call from Rob Hernandez of Wisconsin.golf. The long-time golf reporter wanted to know about the playoff between Milton and Mukwonago. Hernandez saw on the WIAA website that both teams had finished at 324.
Wieland knew the Red Hawks had finished with 324, but the scoreboard had listed Mukwonago at 320. That 320 score was on the WIAA web site throughout the night, although Wieland has a screen shot of it at some point posting Mukwonago’s score at 324.
Mukwonago coach Lee Purdy then contacted Wieland telling him of the error.
Wieland called the WIAA. His first conversation with Tom Shafranski, the WIAA assistant director in charge of the boys golf tournament, did not go well.
“Their stance was the scores were posted and announced and final,” Wieland said Wednesday afternoon. “He was pretty stern with that.
“I said, ‘Tom, this is a computer error.’ He basically said, ‘It is what it is.’”
WIAA rules state that scores are official once the tournament is completed and results posted. That is different than United States Golf Association rules. The WIAA is different because of several previous instances where people have asked that certain players be penalized days after competition
Wieland then informed Milton High’s administrative team about the situation.
It is important to note that Mukwonago was 100% behind Milton in demanding a playoff.
Late Tuesday, Milton administrators discussed filing an injunction if the WIAA refused to change their stance.
“It was frustrating,” Wieland said. “We know the WIAA has rules that are different that the rules of golf, but this was something we couldn’t control. It was frustrating, especially since Mukwonago was saying, ‘This isn’t right. We need to have a playoff.’”
On Wednesday morning, the WIAA—facing a fair amount of backlash—held a Zoom meeting with Milton and Mukwonago administrators.
The WIAA relented.
So this morning at 8:45 a.m., five Mukwonago golfers and their coaches will van back to Janesville to join five Milton golfers on No. 10 at Riverside. All 10 competitors will hit tee shots in what amounts to a shooting gallery.
“It’s crazy,” Wieland said of the team playoff format. “You have to mark your ball. You have to pay attention to who is away. You have to make sure you know what you are doing.”
Wieland will do some coaching to prepare his five golfers for the crowded situation.
“You got to tell them that it’s going to be a little bit slower,” Wieland said. “They have to realize this is a one-hole death situation. You might have to play a little different based on how your opponents are playing.
“But it’s pretty simple: just go out and play your best on that hole.”
Three others who were involved in a playoff for the final individual berth also are expected at Riverside.
If Mukwonago wins the playoff, all team and individual state qualifiers remain the same.
If Milton wins, then Mukwonago sophomore Tyler Schroeder will compete against Sun Prairie’s Tyler Schick, Fort Atkinson’s Brayden Brown and Oregon’s Nicholas Kipp for the final individual berth.
At some point this morning, the Division 1 field will be official.
“This is unfortunately a computer glitch from the WIAA,” Wieland said. “It is an unfortunate situation that we have to move on from. We have to make the best of it. We’re excited.”
Purdy, who told Wieland he did not feel right about the Indians advancing due to the error, agrees with the Milton coach.
“We’re happy it’s being done right,” Purdy told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We felt bad last night. In the USGA rules, committee procedure 7D—not only am I a high school boys coach but I’m also a state rules official—it says the committee should, not must, but should correct an administrative error and that is what it was.”
This has been a unique 15-month period in all sports, but especially high school sports.
It’s good to know basic sportsmanship still is a core quality.