An outdated golf rule is no more after the TSSAA voted to allow golf coaches to instruct their athletes from green-to-tee starting in the Fall 2020 season.
The formal proposal submitted by Gallatin coach Mickey Armstrong states that a coach (assistant or head coach) can advise from green-to-tee, which is defined as the time when all players have completed a hole and before the first player tees off on the next hole. The coach may provide instruction, encouragement and information to his or her golfers without interfering with the pace of play.
“I think based on the responses and discussion from the Board when the item was up on the agenda, many Board members commented that this is something that golf coaches have wanted for some time, and based on how many other states allow it in some form or fashion, it was time to allow it in Tennessee,” TSSAA Assistant Executive Director Matthew Gillespie said.
The state of Tennessee was one of just four states that did not allow its coaches to instruct during a match. Essentially, coaches were limited to asking if their athletes needed a snack or water.
Armstrong said the rule change was long overdue. He spent significant time researching for his proposal before taking to the TSSAA Board of Control on Tuesday, March 17.
“This all started back in October, and I wanted to look at big states like Florida, Texas, and California, and in doing that, I found out Tennessee was in the minority,” Armstrong said.
“I sat down with Mr. Gillespie in January, and we had an excellent talk. He gave us great feedback and let us know that other schools had submitted proposals in the past, so we put together a packet that showed every state's athletic policy and highlighted what they were allowed to do.”
After careful research of other state’s rules, Armstrong decided that the best decision would be to move forward with the green-to-tee method.
“I just think that was the best route to take,” he said. “Once the athletes finish, we have about 30 seconds to give advice.”
The rule change is meant to benefit coaches and players alike. Instead of being a glorified chauffeur during matches, coaches now get an opportunity to build on their relationships with their players.
“I know it will make my job more fun,” Armstrong said. “Instead of asking them if they need a snack or water, we get to talk golf with them. The players will greatly benefit from it. I know in the past I have had players on the cut of advancing in tournaments, but I could not let them know which club to use, or where they stood on the scorebook. Maybe if I was allowed to help them with that information, that (could have changed) the trajectory of their careers.”
Armstrong has received positive feedback from his fellow coaches in the state, but there could also be a downside to the new rule.
“I believe the green-to-tee method was proposed because it would be the least disruptive to the pace of play, which is always something in the sport of golf is important to be conscious of,” Gillespie said. “I think there is always a concern, especially of a rule like this, of potential violations of the rule and how difficult it will be to monitor during competition.”
The proposal that passed states that coaches will not be allowed to slow the pace of play under any circumstances.
Coaching is permitted on the course in the 2020 TSSAA regular and postseason. Coaches and players must, however, adhere to the following criteria:
- The coach must be approved through his/her respective school, administration, and/or district. The coach must also be registered through TSSAA as a Head or Assistant golf coach.
- Only one coach (Head or Assistant) may coach during TSSAA sanctioned events and must be identified before play begins.
- A coach can give advice from Green to Tee. This is defined as the time when all players have completed a hole and before the first player tees off on the next hole. The coach may provide instruction, encouragement and information to his/her golfer without interfering with the pace of play.
- In the spirit of the coaching rule, players are at no time allowed to be coaches. Once a player finishes a round, they are to become a spectator and will thus not be permitted to advise a teammate still on the course. The penalty for offering advice to a teammate or any other competitor will be two strokes per incident in accordance to the USGA rules.
- It is imperative that coaches do no slow the pace of play. Slow play will be penalized as per USGA Rules.
If a coach violates any of these rules, he or she will be asked to immediately return and remain at the clubhouse. The school will then lose all coaching privileges for the remainder of the tournament.