Developing consistent standards for match or tournament qualifying procedures is one of the most important things a high school golf coach needs to do. High school teams can vary greatly in size and talent level, but all players benefit significantly in an environment in which they understand how they can qualify and ultimately compete for their team. Here is a coach’s checklist for setting standards for high school qualifying procedures:
Set a team schedule that is conducive to the size of your team – Many states have restrictions for total match count throughout the year (e.g. max of 19 matches). Of course it’s important to provide enough competitive experiences for your top golfers, but it’s also important to ensure your mid-level and beginner golfers have opportunities to compete, learn, and improve. Ensure your qualifying process for each of these matches or tournaments are clearly communicated as it impacts all of the golfers.
Structure qualifying to be repeatable and understandable – I have heard a lot of high school “horror stories” of coaches allowing players to compete solo or allow golfers to attempt to qualify on different days with different conditions. Although some exceptions need to be made, ideally players have the chance to qualify on the same day with as big of a sample size as possible.
Keep track of player averages and think about what stats matter – As a high school coach, I kept track of 9-hole match averages, 18-hole tournament averages, strength of competition, and difficulty of course and conditions played. Figure out the right balance for you as ideally if you have a big enough sample size, you can place some of your top players as “exempt” for particular events. The key thing when you place exemptions for tournaments is to clearly communicate who and why so players understand how many spots they are playing for during qualifiers.
Collect a big enough sample size of qualifying prior to events – For top team members it’s better to have 36 holes or more for high level tournament qualifying. 18 holes is typically enough to help fill final spots for tournaments and 9 holes can be useful especially for JV or mid-level tournaments.
Already have your lineup set? Here are some great on-course practice drills to help get your team tournament ready.