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Spring golf season to be extended

McCook Central/Montrose’s Jacob Heumiller putts the ball on a rainy day during the Class B boys state golf meet in Brookings in May 2013. (Brooke Cersosimo/Republic)

The 2015-16 school year will end a few weeks beyond graduation for some student athletes in South Dakota, as the spring state golf tournaments are set to move back two weeks to lessen the impact of bad weather and poor course conditions.

The change was voted on earlier this year when the South Dakota High School Activities Association Golf Advisory Committee recommended the new schedule to ensure an equitable season for participants in comparison to the fall season.

The athletic directors voted 70 to 42 in favor of the change, but Class AA ADs were heavily against the proposal.

“I think initially there were some concerns for Class AA,” SDHSAA Assistant Director John Krogstrand said. “But after it was discussed at the board level and having an opportunity to examine the situation perhaps changed some opinions.”

The Class AA schools voted 13-5 against the new schedule, while Class A was 27-15 in favor and Class B voted for the change 32-14.

In the 2016 spring season, the Class AA, A and B girls, along with the Class B boys, will play state tournaments on June 1-2. This season, the same classes will play state tournaments at various sites around South Dakota on May 19-20. The Class B boys play at Wild Oak Golf Course and the Class B girls play at Lakeview Golf Course in Mitchell.

Krogstrand said there were two Class AA ADs on the board who voted in favor of the change.

Mitchell High School Activities Director Geoff Gross voted against the proposal.

“Most of the golf tournaments are hosted at AA sites,” Gross said. “To my understanding, the resistance was that many of the courses wanted to be open to the public after the Memorial Day weekend. Obviously, somebody has polled the golf courses to make sure it is going to work.”

According to a straw poll conducted by the SDHSAA prior to the vote, golf courses around the state would be available to host the state tournaments.

Dan Sabers, clubhouse manager at Mitchell’s Lakeview Golf Course, said the courses are available for a high school state tournament whenever the opportunity arises.

Carin Hayn, the golf professional and manager at Pierre’s Hillsview Golf Course, said she sees no problem hosting the state tournaments with the new schedule.

“It would just be a matter of moving some of our leagues back a week or two, but I don’t see any serious issues,” Hayn said.

Hillsview is the host for the Class AA girls state tournament May 19-20.

The push for a later tournament schedule came after the bad weather experienced for the 2013 events. The weather caused some schools to have as little as two weeks of time on the course prior to playing in the state tournament, while teams in the fall had as much as eight weeks of playing time.

“Our board wanted to look at what we could do to provide a better season for our players and that is what the ADs voted forward,” Krogstrand said.

Gross said the other hangup was the extension of the season. Gross also coaches Mitchell track and field, a sport that often goes beyond graduation.

“It can be a nuisance with students out of school and not having as much structure in their lives,” Gross said.

The latest proposed date for the the five-year period starting with the 2015-16 school year is June 6-7 in 2016-17. Most high school graduations take place in the second or third week of May.

Also, student athletes may have other responsibilities that could begin in the early weeks of the summer, including other sports or getting ready for the transition to college. Coaches will also be asked to extend their season by an additional two weeks.

Track and field season for boys and girls is usually the last SDHSAA sanctioned sport to finish, but golf will likely take that distinction in the future.

The other change to South Dakota high school golf in the future is if two individuals or teams are tied for second place at the state tournament, they will remain tied and each receive runner-up honors. The ADs voted 105-4 in favor of the change across the three classes.