High School Golf Team Fails in Bid to Have Court Overturn Disputed Rules Decision

Oct 25, 2019

By Rob Harris, of golfdisputeresolution.com
Charleston, West Virginia’s George Washington High School missed qualifying for the state tournament by one shot, at least according to the official counting.
However, the result was not without dispute. A player on the team that eked out the last qualifying spot recorded a score on a par three hole that was one shot less than the number counted by his marker. As reported, “a debate lasting around two hours ensued, with players being taken back to the hole and asked to recall particular strokes in an effort to resolve the matter.”
The tournament authorities decided to accept the lower score claimed by the player, even though there were two parents of players from other schools who sided with the marker.
While unfortunate instants such as this occasionally arise, what happened next was exceedingly unusual. A George Washington H.S. player filed suit against the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission, seeking to have a court override the officials’ determination and order that the George Washington team be added to the championship field.
During the court proceedings, the attorneys invoked United States Golf Association rules. According to one report, the challenging player’s attorney “argued that under United States Golf Association rule 3.3b, the [officials] must take into account the word of any witness to a disputed hole if the marker and the player cannot sort the matter out for themselves.”
The Association’s attorney “countered by citing rule 6c-7 of the committee procedure portion of the USGA rule book which states that when a dispute between players cannot be resolved and there is no other evidence, the benefit of the doubt should be given to the player.”
The court declined to grant the relief requested, noting that the courts should not be viewed as the arbiter of high school sports controversies.


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