Hello Kern County golfers.

It’s been a couple months since the last Tee to Green golf column in early March, so it’s time to bring everyone up to par!

By now I’m sure you know that the Rio Bravo CC golf course closed down. I don’t have any information as to when (or if) it might re-open, but the closure meant that the San Joaquin Championship scheduled for May 21-22 will not be in the Michelob Ultra Player of the Year line-up.

Also the NOR championship at Haggerty-North Kern is a no-go for 2017, but new director of golf Alan Sorensen said he will definitely get back in for 2018 with a new tournament title (more on North Kern later).

That means the 2017 Michelob Ultra Player of the Year will be a simple four-tournament series. Here are the dates and venues: Bakersfield City Amateur at Sundale CC on July 29-30, Taft City Amateur at Mifflin-Buena Vista on Aug. 26-27, RiverLakes Amateur at The Links at RiverLakes Ranch on Sept. 16-17 and the Kern County Amateur at North Kern and Foss-Kern River on Oct. 28-29.

The top three in the points standings after the KC Amateur will receive gift cards from Dick's Sporting Goods, and the champion also receives the annual bronze trophy and the perpetual trophy, which will be placed the winner’s home course during 2018.

As mentioned above, Haggerty-North Kern is being operated by the Sorensen brothers, with Chad still at BV and Alan manning the ship at NK. According to Alan, there are a lot of plans in the works (some already completed) to help reduce the water consumption.

“We plan on taking out roughly 17 acres of grass and replacing most of it with wood chips,” he said. “This will reduce the water consumption, which is the biggest cost of operation out here.”

Sorensen also said the rounds have somewhat increased, but not to the levels of before or what they hope for.

“It’s going to take a while,” he said. "We are seeing players coming back though. Hopefully, once we finish the projects and players see what we have done and will be doing, we will see an increase in play.”

CSUB golf

While most golf programs gauge a successful season by conference titles and/or postseason success, that’s not the case at CSUB. This year’s (2016-17 school year) season was highly successful for the women’s team.

The Roadrunners finished a program-best fifth in the Western Athletic Conference Championships and were just a few strokes from a top-three finish. And two players finished in the individual top 10 for the first time.

Junior Tori Peers, The Californian’s CSUB Female Athlete of the Week last week, placed sixth with a three-round total of 224 on rounds of 76-75-73, and fellow junior Ariel Lee was seventh at 226 on rounds of 73-79-74 at the Indian Hills CC in Mission Hills, Kan.

As a team, the Roadrunners shot 922. That was 15 strokes behind champion New Mexico State. During the season the team set records for both the lowest single round and lowest 54-hole total. Peers set the all-time individual round record with a 71 at the Bobcat Desert Invitational in April.

Macy Mills (Liberty High) was 17th at the WAC with a score of 232 and Julia Stewart (Bakersfield Christian) shot 240. Frontier grad Chandler Bullman also contributed during the year.

The CSUB men finished seventh in the WAC Championhips and were led by Nathan Green, Dominik Hoover, Izzad Ibraham and Liberty product Warren Miller.

Rules of Golf changes

It’s long overdue, but golf’s ruling bodies have come together for a new decision on The Rules of Golf that limits the use of video evidence. The decision issued two weeks ago was effective immediately and is standard for all tours. But it has two standards.

Players will avoid a penalty if the violation could not be seen by the naked eye. You might remember Anna Nordqvist being penalized for her club nicking a pebble of sand during her back swing in the U.S. Women’s Open last year. The only way that was noticed was with up-close, slow-motion video. Under the new rules, that would not be a penalty.

Rules officials can also determine there is no penalty if they feel the player made a “reasonable judgment” in taking a drop or re-placing their ball on the green (remember Lexi Thompson at this year’s ANA Inspiration).

The R&A did not, however, disallow TV viewers to continue to call in violations (it should be banned altogether and not used) or decide on whether to add penalty shots for what becomes an incorrect scorecard.

As I see it, it’s up to the players and officials to govern the rules, and if an incident isn't called on the course at the time it should be moot. And I also think that just because you sign an incorrect scorecard, you should not be penalized. Just get the score right and move on. What’s the big deal? If you shot 66 and signed for a 65 and everyone knows you shot 66, then just change the dang card, mark down the 66 and move on. It’s not like the player was trying to cheat, right?

Chip Shots

• Anyone seen “Tommy’s Honour”, the golf movie about the roots of the game in St. Andrews and the relationship between Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris? It debuted April 12 in 30 cities and is scheduled to be on Golf Channel in 2019, but I’d like to see it before then. Let me know if you have seen the movie and your thoughts.

• The Southern California Golf Association (SCGA) and Women’s Southern California Golf Association (WSCGA) will combine effective July 1. The unification was unanimously approved by both associations’ Board of Directors. The SCGA will incorporate the WSCGA’s major championships, WSCGA members will maintain their member ID numbers and the WSCGA Foundation will unify with the SCGA Junior Golf Foundation. The WSCGA was founded in 1922 and its 190 clubs and 22,000 members will team with the SCGA, forming a 1,428-member club and 167,000 individual memberships!

• Remember that a handicap index is based on potential, so post ALL of your rounds (adjusted if needed) for an accurate index of your playing ability against a course and your fellow competitors! Don’t be hesitant to report top individual and team performances, holes-in-one or any other golf-related news that you think the readers of this column might want to know about. Keep Tee to Green posted on results for college players, junior players, etc to the email address below. And thanks in advance!

Tee to Green appears online monthly at Bakersfield.com/Sports. You can reach Robert Gautney at gautney@att.net

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