Pros Lash Out Over High School Rule Change

With slow play back on the national golf stage following J.B. Holmes’ victory at The Genesis Open on Sunday, Holmes’ home state of Kentucky is making national news for attempting to combat the problem in its high school ranks.

On Tuesday, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association passed a new rule for both girls’ and boys’ golf that reduces the number of players a team can bring to the state tournament from five to four. 

The KHSAA said the change was made in an effort to speed up play as well as allow better golfers to qualify individually.

“There is strong feeling on the board that these changes will strengthen the competition pool at the state championship event and give more students from throughout the state an opportunity to qualify, while at the same time addressing longstanding concerns over the pace of play,” KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett said in a release.

“The fifth player in a lot of situations was the cause of the pace-of-play problems,” Tackett said in a follow-up interview with The Louisville Courier-Journal. “They’re just not as good. Now, you have elite programs that their fifth player could be the No. 1 on some teams. By and large, that’s not the case. The 150s on the girls’ side and the 100 scores on the boys’ side are generally the fifth-place golfer in a region that may not be as strong.”

The decision to cut down the state-tournament-qualifying teams from five to four was met with strong opposal from three of the state’s biggest golf names: Justin Thomas, Steve Flesch and Josh Teater. 

“Do the right thing here @KHSAA,” Thomas, a graduate of Louisville St. Xavier High School, wrote. “A lot of great storylines comes from a 5 man on your team, like we had on ours at Saint X. Change it back and make this right!”

“I was the 5th man my junior year!” PGA Tour pro Josh Teater, a product of Lexington’s Henry Clay High School, said., “I just don’t know any other sporting event where you change the rules in the finals. Keep the game the same @KHSAA and rethink this decision.”