State golf tourney is moved, delayed

It's now one-day event in Frederick, not at UM

October 17, 2002|By Rick Belz and Lem Satterfield | Rick Belz and Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

The state golf championships underwent a radical change yesterday as the two-week-long sniper shootings in the Washington area continued to disrupt state high school athletic programs.

The tournament for about 140 golfers was moved back one week to Oct. 28, the course was switched from the University of Maryland in Prince George's County to Clustered Spires Golf Course in Frederick, and the tournament itself was condensed into one day and 18 holes instead of two days and 36 holes.

"In light of the fact that Prince George's and Montgomery counties are under a moratorium for their activities, it doesn't make much sense to bring people from other parts of the state into a place where they are not conducting activities - just to play golf," said Ned Sparks, executive director of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association that governs public school athletic programs

Sparks said that as of now no other state tournaments would change their dates or sites, including field hockey, which is scheduled to begin playoff competition Tuesday, and soccer, slated to start Oct. 25.

Montgomery County, where the first of the 11 shootings occurred Oct. 2, continued to prohibit outdoor activities yesterday and announced that it will not reschedule any previously postponed athletic events, including football games.

With four weeks remaining in the football schedule, that means Montgomery teams cannot complete a full 10-game schedule. State regulations require football teams to play nine games to be eligible for the playoffs.

Unlike other sports, football is not an open tournament, basing its eligibility on a points average system.

Prince George's County, which like Montgomery also called off its football games last weekend, has not yet decided whether to make them up.

Sparks said earlier this week that if conditions continue to prevent those two counties from playing, the MPSSAA would have to figure a way to deal with teams that might play only six, seven or eight football games.

If the sniper is not caught by the start of the football playoffs, each jurisdiction would have to decide whether its teams could participate.

The state golf championships have been held at the University of Maryland for at least 27 years, Sparks said.

They were moved back a week to give the Montgomery girls a chance to complete their district qualifying tournament. That qualifier was supposed to be played by this past Tuesday, but the last possible playing date is now tomorrow.

If that qualifier is not held by then, the Montgomery girls will not be able to compete in the state tournament. As many as 12 girls from Montgomery County could qualify.

"There's more important things than not having all the teams in the state tournament," Sparks said.

Stephanie Connelly of Northeast-AA, who as a freshman won last year's girls state championship with a 73-75-48, said: "I'm surprised they moved it, but I guess they have to be safe. I'd have been a little concerned [playing at the University of Maryland], but probably wouldn't have worried about it. I'd like to play two days, because anything can happen in one day."

The change to one day was finance-driven. A two-day event at Clustered Spires would have cost approximately twice as much as at Maryland.

"We only have so much in our budget," said state golf chairman Jeff Ibex. "We considered three different counties, but this course had the best hotel facilities close by and seemed anxious to have us. We really appreciate what they have done on short notice. It's above and beyond what you could expect."

Clustered Spires is owned by the City of Frederick and is a par-72, 6,310-yard public course that is flatter than the 6,271-yard, par-71 Maryland course, but it is sprinkled with more bunkers.

"Long hitters will have birdie opportunities," said Ibex, who coaches Westminster's team.

Other courses considered were Wakefield Valley in Carroll County and Geneva Farms in Harford County.

Dick Barto, the Severna Park golf coach, said: "This is the way to go - as far away from D.C. as possible. They have to err big-time on the positive side. They can't put kids in jeopardy. I wouldn't be surprised it they cancel it [playoffs] all."

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