The plot thickened Thursday in the story about 12 high school golfers being disqualified from the Oregon state tournament because they played the wrong tee on one hole.
Golf Digest reported that students, coaches and school administrators said a rules official told some of the players to hit from the markers that ultimately proved to be the wrong ones, but later denied having done so.
To recap, in the first round of the state tournament at Quail Valley Golf Course in Banks, Ore., competitors were supposed to play from the blue tees. On the 13th hole, however, the blue markers were 40 yards farther back than the 172 yards shown on the scorecard. Players from Rogue River, Columbia Christian and Grant Union high schools noticed the discrepancy, and a Rogue River assistant coach asked a rules official what they should do. He said he was told the players should hit from the red tees on that hole.
“My kid and the Grant Union kid heard this, too,” Columbia Christian athletic director Bart Valentine told Golf Digest.
Golf Digest said it was told by Pete Weber, Oregon School Activities Association executive director, that the rules official on the 13th hole was a volunteer. The magazine did not report the man’s name, but it did say it was unable to reach him.
All the players who had hit from the red tee were eventually disqualified. A meeting was held afterward involving players, coaches and the volunteer official. According to Golf Digest, “Multiple people involved said the volunteer official at that time denied that he told players to hit from the red …”
Digest quoted Rogue River head coach Isom: “I was in the meeting where the official was called over and asked, ‘Did you tell players to go off the red?’ And he said, ‘No, I would never do that.'”
It also quoted Columbia Christian ahletic director Valentine: “If [the rules official] knew they were supposed to be teeing off from the blue [tee], why did he watch four groups hit from the red and not say anything? That’s nonsense.”
“He flat out lied,” said Red River player Lafever. “There are the three kids who are in the group that heard him say it, plus a coach was standing right there who confirmed it.”
Oregon School Activities Association executive director Weber said there wasn’t much the OSAA could do.
“The issue they came down to, by the time we figured what had happened, the kids had already moved on to the next hole, and the rules are clear in how that should be handled,” Weber said.
While no one was happy about how the incident played out, Rogue River coach Isom said it proved to be a bonding experience for all the teams involved, and that they went out together for ice cream.
“They were laughing and joking, having a good time,” Isom said. “That was their suggestion. That’s what they wanted to do. They shared an ice cream cake with spoons. I hate to say it, but I think this will ultimately be a good thing.”