MHSAA Looks To Technology To Prevent Prep Golf Tournament Score Tampering
Questionable scores last season leads to MHSAA inquiry; new app will help keep golfers more accountable.
LANSING, Mich. – During last year’s Michigan high school boys golf season, two schools– Fair Haven Anchor Bay and Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse – posted outlier scores at the regional tournament. Their low scores raised eyebrows and led to questions.
After the season, the golf committee at the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) decided that scoring at these tournaments needed to be examined. The committee’s review is leading to changes to hold players more truthfully accountable during play.
“I think a change was necessary, especially given what happened last June with the Division I regional in the metro Detroit area and allegations of cheating and collusion on the part of the players,” said Robert Filter, East Lansing High School’s junior varsity golf coach, and a member of the MHSAA golf committee this season.
This upcoming season, as part of those efforts, the MHSAA is rolling out a pilot program to use apps on players’ phones for live scoring at each hole. This will be available to leagues, conferences, and schools with already existing tournaments and matches, according to MHSAA Associate Director Cody Inglis.
One scoring application the MHSAA is considering is iWanamaker, which will randomly pair golfers in groups and allow one player in each group to keep track of scoring on their phone. This would update automatically, and lock in scores after each hole, as well as tally them. It would be used alongside a written scorecard.
This particular app comes with an opportunity for schools to bring in more money to their programs. iWanaMaker will allow parents and other family members to buy subscriptions on the app to keep track of their child during matches or tournaments. A portion of that money would then go back to the school’s golf program, according to Filter.
Not only would parents get to see the scores with the app, but coaches and tournament administrators would as well. This would allow for more monitoring on a hole-by-hole basis, according to Filter. Currently, there is no real-time way for any administration to monitor all of the players.
“One of the biggest issues with golf is always scoring integrity. Did the player actually shoot what they said they shot?” said Inglis. “Golf’s problem is unlike almost all of our other sports because there is no way to know how a kid is doing during the round until after they’re done.
“That’s very hard for the public, the coach, for anyone to see and so one of the beliefs is by putting more eyeballs on a score, it will allow competitors, coaches (and) tournament administration to go and watch the kid actually shoot the scores he says he’s shooting.”
When looking at this option, scoring integrity was just part of the consideration. Filter said that the committee is also looking for ways to connect with younger golfers. Currently, under MHSAA rules, golfers are not allowed to have their phones on the course.
“We’ve got a younger generation that really isn’t necessarily picking up the game of golf and running with it,” said Filter. “What can we do to say, OK, we realize that the younger generation has a very important place in their lives for technology and we want to say look, as a game of golf, we are not all old-style, stuffy people that don’t want to look at anything new… we’re willing to look at some new ideas.”