By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
There was no substantial drama on the course during Monday afternoon’s sub-state golf tournament at TP Country Club. No, it only reared its head once play was suspended due to a torrential downpour.
With golfers, coaches and parents all flocking to the clubhouse to stay dry, talk quickly turned to how the state qualifier would proceed — players could either return Tuesday morning to start from scratch or resume from the hole they were on when play was stopped.
Patrick Drake’s first call was to the Alabama High School Athletic Association, which ruled in favor of the first scenario. The AHSAA then called TP’s director of golf back after contacting the USGA, ultimately deciding the second option would be an appropriate solution as long as Drake deemed the course playable at the time the tournament began.
That left Drake with the final decision, and, after a great deal of thought, he chose door No. 2, meaning play would pick up Tuesday at 9 a.m. where it left off the previous day.
“The course was very playable,” Drake said of TP’s early-morning condition. “Golf is a game that’s played outside. You have different circumstances arise. Every tournament I’ve ever played in, when play is suspended, you pick up from where you left off. You don’t start over.”
But wait, there’s more. Drake eventually received one last phone call from the AHSAA. The state’s governing body on prep sports had changed its mind again, washing out Monday’s round altogether. Play will still begin Tuesday at 9 a.m., but all participants will start with a fresh scorecard.
Drake’s original decision was met with mixed reviews. Many coaches argued players with later tee times would’ve had a clear advantage — some teams had golfers who had braved the soggy course for as many as 14 holes before play was halted, while other had boys who were only out in the rain for a handful or so.
Cold Springs coach Adam McKinnon wasn’t going to cry foul either way, saying he could find pros and cons in both options. He felt the discrepancy in holes played would’ve made a difference if play would’ve resumed but also acknowledged less-than-ideal weather is nothing new to the sport.
“In major tournaments, they have guys who tee off in the morning when the wind isn’t blowing, and they have guys who tee off in the afternoon when it’s howling,” McKinnon said. “Part of it is just luck of the draw. It’s just the way it happens.”
Cold Springs is the host of the Class 2A portion of the sub-state tournament, while Cullman holds the honors for the 5A division. The top-three teams and top-five individuals from each classification will advance to the state tourney.
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.