Colton Werner, Gallatin High School, watches his iron shot on hole 6 at Blue Grass Country Club during the 2109 season.

Colton Werner, Gallatin High School, watches his iron shot on hole 6 at Blue Grass Country Club during the 2109 season. 

An outdated golf rule is no more after the TSSAA voted to allow golf coaches to coach their athletes from Green-to-Tee starting in the Fall 2020 season. 

The formal proposal submitted by Gallatin head coach Mickey Armstrong states a coach (assistant or head coach) can advise from Green-to-Tee, and it 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. 

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 just one of four states that did not allow their coaches to coach during a match. Essentially, coaches were limited to just asking if their athletes needed anything such as a snack or water.

The dated rule was one that needed changing according to Mickey Armstrong, who said he spent a good majority of time researching his proposal before taking it to the TSSAA Board. 

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.

I sat down with Mr. Gillespie in January, and we had an excellent talk,” Armstrong continued. 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 states 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,” added Armstrong. Once the athletes finish, we have about 30 seconds to give advice.” 

The new rule change will undoubtedly benefit not only the players but the coaches as well. Instead of being a glorified chauffeur, coaches will now get the 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 changes 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 this new rule change. 

Coach Armstrong from Gallatin had multiple versions, but 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 added. 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.”

Armstrongs proposal that passed states that under no circumstance will a coach be allowed to slow the pace of play. Slow play will be penalized as per USGA rules. If a coach violates any of these rules, he/she will be asked to return and remain at the clubhouse immediately. The school will then lose all coaching privileges for the remainder of the tournament. 

The full proposal is listed below.

Open coaching, effective Fall 2020 boys and girls golf season. 

Coaching is permitted on the course in the 2020 TSSAA Regular and Post Season. Coaches and players must, however, adhere to the following criteria. 

  1. 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. 
  2. Only one coach (Head or Assistant) may coach during TSSAA sanctioned events and must be identified before play begins. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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 tow strokes per incident in accordance to the USGA rules. 
  5. 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/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. 

 

 

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