The GHSA made several changes to its system for teams hoping to qualify for the state tournament following the conclusion of the 2012 season, and local teams will have to navigate those changes when region championships take place this week.
The biggest change was that four teams — instead of two — from each region have an opportunity to advance to a sectional meet before heading to the state tournament. However, the top four teams also have to post a qualifying score in order move on.
In Classes AA through AAAAAA, the winning teams from each region tournament that post the qualifying score will advance directly to the state tournament. Region champions that do not post a qualifying score will go to the sectional meet. All other teams in the top four of each region tournament that meet the qualifying score will move on to sectionals.
Area champions in Class A automatically advance to the state tournament, regardless of their score. Second, third and fourth place teams will compete in the sectional meet for the remaining state tournament slots.
The qualifying boys scores for Classes AAAAAA and AAAAA is 330, for AAAA and AAA it’s 340 and for AA it’s 350. Girls qualifying scores are 300 for Classes AAAAAA and AAAAA, 320 for AAAA and AAA and 200 for AA.
The other significant change involved the number of girls scores used in the team scoring. In Classes AAA through AAAAAA, a girls team may consist of four players with the best three scores counting as the team score. In Classes AA and A, a team may consist of four players with the best two scores counting.
Four scores from a six-person boys team still counts towards the boys team score.
The Class AAAAAA boys sectional will be at Brookfield Country Club in Roswell, while the girls will take place at the Country Club of Roswell. The boys Class AAAAA sectional will be at Westlake Country Club in Augusta and the girls will be held at Johns Creek Golf Course in Augusta. Forest Hills Golf Club in Augusta will host the boys Class A private sectional, while the girls will be at Goshen Plantation Golf Club in Augusta. The GHSA 2013 sectionals will be held Monday, May 6.
“With the qualifying score, there are more factors for the kids to worry about,” said Harrison coach Dennis Attaway.
The Hoyas will be seeking their 16th consecutive region champion when the Region 4AAAAAA tournament tees off Tuesday at Brookstone Golf and Country Club. The Lady Hoyas, who are going after their 16th title as well, tee off from Bentwater Golf Club Wednesday.
“Not only do they have to be concerned about their own golf game and with their opponent, but now the score comes into play,” Attaway said. “In the past you just had to worry about finishing first or second, now you have to post a solid score in beating the other teams.
“It just adds another dimension to the season. It gives hope and an opportunity to the third and fourth place teams in the region, which is a good thing. So, your season continues if you hit that qualifying mark and finish in the top four.”
Weather on the day of the tournament also becomes a factor. Playing in bad weather could hurt the team and force them to have to go to sectional, or it could send them home.
Attaway is hoping for good weather Tuesday as his favored Hoyas should also be challenged by Kennesaw Mountain and Hillgrove for the title. Mustangs sophomore Jonathan Keppler was last year’s Region 4AAAAA individual winner and then he went on to win the Class AAAAA state championship.
“This tournament is a little bit more wide open,” Attaway said. “Kennesaw Mountain has some really good golfers and Hillgrove has some players who are members of Brookstone, which gives them an advantage like it does us. They’re also experienced teams, so we’ll have to play well.”
The Lady Hoyas are also expected to repeat with Kennesaw Mountain and Hillgrove looking to make the qualifying score. Harrison senior Allison Black won the Region 4AAAAA crown last year.
The boys and girls Region 5AAAAAA tournaments will take place Tuesday at Cobblestone Golf Course. The Lassiter boys edged Walton by one stroke last year to take the Region 5AAAAA crown in consecutive seasons. Milton, last year’s Class AAAAA team champion, and Roswell will also challenge for this year’s title.
Walton, Milton and Roswell are three of the favorites for the girls championship. Milton won the Class AAAAA crown a season ago and Walton finished sixth.
The boys Region 7AAAAA championship will be held Monday at Eagle Watch Golf Club in Woodstock. Cambridge, Creekview and Kell are considered the favorites. The Longhorns won the Region 5AAAA title last year — its first region championship in school history.
“There’s more intrigue this year because of the qualifying score and the GHSA taking the top four,” Pope coach Jason Dasinger said. “We finished third last year and had that score, so I’m selling that to our guys to motivate them. The kids are excited and we’ve shot that qualifying score before. It gives teams an opportunity to make the state tournament, so I like the new format.”
The girls Region 7AAAAA championship will be Tuesday at Bentwater where Creekview, Cambridge and Kell will likely battle for the title.
The boys Region 5AAAAA title will be decided today at Stonebrige Golf Club in Rome with East Paulding, Rome and North Paulding challenging for the crown. North Paulding and Paulding County are the favorites in the girls tournament, which will be held Tuesday.
The Area 6A boys and girls championship take place today at Coosa Country Club in Rome. Mount Paran Christian, last year’s boys Region 6A winner, is among the favorites this season along with Walker. The Eagles’ Tyler Young captured medalist honors.
Darlington is the favorite in the girls tournament with Mount Paran a close second. The Tigers’ Hannah Mae Deems won the 6A title last year. Darlington was second in the state last season in Class A.
“From what we’ve seen this season it looks like Walker then us on the boys side,” Mount Paran co-coach Scott Varner said. “But, I don’t know a lot about the other teams. Darlington is the clear favorite in the girls. They return last year’s medalist who is a terrific golfer. If the stars align, then I think we have a shot. Mount Pisgah is pretty good too.”