OPINION: Electric Scorecards For WIAA Golf Tournaments Come With Risks

Piercing Thoughts

I’ll be the first person to admit that I am most definitely not a math guy.

When I use a paper scorecard for golf I sometimes botch adding up the scores from all 18 holes and appreciate a course that gives pencils with erasers to fix my mistakes—which sometimes happen due to a couple scary scores in the round.

But a recent mishap with the automated computer scoring system at a WIAA Division 2 girls golf sectional last week has me wondering if high school golf shouldn’t be sticking to the ‘old fashioned’ way of tallying strokes.

For a moment after last Monday’s tournament in Prairie du Chien, the official WIAA website listed Arcadia as the lowest scoring team in the event, which would have meant a victory and a berth to the state tournament.

With only four golfers, the online scoring system gave them credit for a “zero” for their fifth golfer. The Raiders finished sixth in real scoring, but for a while it appeared that Arcadia was in good standing and had advanced.

I understand the benefits of the virtual scoring. Sure, it’s simple and most children have a cell phone to score on. The results are instant, meaning people can follow along before results go final. And it saves someone a lot of time to not have to add up 50 scorecards by hand. 

How tough would it be to see your child go on the emotional rollercoaster of qualifying for the state tournament, something they have longed to accomplish for most of their life, just to later find out that they haven’t accomplished the feat due to a scoring error entirely out of their control? I’d think that would be a tough conversation.

It’s one I’ve seen, and it caused quite the ruckus.

Back when I worked in the Madison area in 2021, an Oregon High School senior golfer thought his career had ended at a Division 1 sectional. But a similar online scoring error miscounted the team scores, resulting in an emergency playoff.

A golfer from Mukwonago was given credit for a 38 on the online scorecard, but his strokes added up hole by hole on the same online interface added up to a 42. It tied his team with another, changing who qualified for state in the individual race.

The WIAA lists all team scores as final in such situations, but the teams agreed to replay the playoff for the final individual qualification four days before the state tournament.

I give the coach and player credit for the way they handled such an error. They took it as a second chance. But I’m thinking of situations such as Arcadia when the swing is in a negative light instead of a positive one.

Arcadia knew they hadn’t done enough to advance, but errors such as these should be avoided at all costs if possible.

Technology is awesome until it isn’t. Maybe it’s time to go back to paper scorecards, even if one kid might lose theirs along the way and you have to account for human error. 

Clearly, we’re not the only ones capable of such errors.

And isn’t there the same risk of losing some scores if a player’s phone loses its charge and they can’t keep score that way? Players keep track of each other’s scores, so that would help, too.

At the very least, it’s time to work out the issues with the online scoring system. I’m not sure how it happens or what the solution is, but it’s time.

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