A major high school golf cheating scandal leads to implementation of new scoring system for 2019

December 26, 2018
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Last spring the Michigan High School Athletic Association was rocked with a major cheating scandal when three schools—Anchor Bay, L’Anse Creuse and Fraser—were accused of shaving strokes in the state tournament. The schools, playing together in multiple groups, each shot a score more than 45 strokes lower than their teams' season averages. For Anchor Bay, their total of 284 became the new all-time record for state regionals.

Though the two schools that would have advanced in the places of Anchor Bay and L’Anse Creuse filed a petition, the state association said it did not have enough proof to void the controversial scores. This problem became amplified during the state championship when Anchor Bay shot 738 (385-353) and L’Anse Creuse posted 777 (401-376) to finish in the bottom two spots.

Hoping to correct the issue going forward, the MHSAA will turn to an app to track scores in-round to curbing cheating in 2019.

According to the Detroit Free Press:

A pilot program, using a cell phone app, will begin with the 2019 boys’ golf spring season to test if it should be adopted full-time.

The pilot program would allow cell phone use in four instances, with the most prominent case being use of a cell phone app called iWanamaker. The app allows each player to post their scores in real time, which then allows officials and the public to see the progress of the event. Currently, cell phones are not allowed during MHSAA competitions.

The other three situations that cell phone use on the course will be recommended to the MHSAA’s Representative Council for a vote in May are: calling a coach or tournament administration for a health or safety issue, contacting a rules official, and use as a distance measuring device — all which are legal by the USGA.

In most high school golf events, the scores are not made public until the round has completed. Coaches believe this new program will help with transparency.

“I cannot think of another sport where you have to wait five to six hours to find out what the score is," Nathan Oake, a golf coach from Hartland Township, told the Free Press. "I think we are moving in a very positive direction with a discussion about using more live scoring as both a preventative tool and a tool for enhancement of the competition.”

If the MHSAA's Representative Council agrees to the changes above, they would be instituted permanently for boys and girls beginning in the fall of 2019.