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Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA)
Dubuque Senior girls golf coach Rose Kubesheski noticed her standout freshman Maddie Hawkins struggling at the outset of Monday's Mississippi Valley Conference Super Meet.
Unlike past seasons, Kubesheski was able to stroll onto the fairway and offer some calming advice.
"I just told her once she got on the green to read her line and trust it," Kubesheski said. "She made her putt and she relaxed after that. She is a freshman and she was experiencing a lot of nerves in her first Super Meet."
Despite carding a 9, Hawkins finished the meet with an 84, just five strokes off the lead heading into Monday's divisional meet. Kubesheski's intervention would have been prohibited by rule in past seasons when coaches only were allowed to address players between green and tee.
The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union offered coaches an opportunity this season to get out on the course and work with their players from tee-to-green during the regular season. The change has been so well received, it extended the rule into postseason play.
"We have been overwhelmed with e-mails and calls about how much coaches like it, but also how much it has helped the game of golf for high school girls," said Lisa Brinkmeyer, associate director of golf at the state level.
Brinkmeyer said officials were concerned the new rule would slow the pace of play, which is why it was not extended to the postseason when courses are at maximum capacity, but they discovered the opposite effect.
"It has actually increased the pace of play," Brinkmeyer said. "Coaches can give their players options and tell them you don't have to hit through the trees, you can hit back onto the fairway."
Brinkmeyer said golf is an independent sport and players must know and enforce the rules themselves, and be able to make decisions on their own, which is why the original rule was in place.
Kubesheski expressed concern about hyper-competitive coaches distracting opposing players with overzealous advice, but Brinkmeyer said that hasn't been a problem.
"My experience has been the best players don't want someone following them around," Brinkmeyer said. "Coaches are telling me the biggest benefit has come to those lower-level players who have been able to gain confidence because the coaches are out there with them."
"Now I can coach a player right after something happens instead of afterward bringing up, 'do you remember what happened on No. 6?'" Kubesheski said. "A lot of times they're playing unfamiliar courses and they don't remember which hole No. 6 was."
Brinkmeyer said the state will continue to monitor the rule's impact during tournament play.
It has motivated many coaches to get out of the clubhouse and onto the course, which she said had been a problem in the past.
"I'm glad we've done this," Brinkmeyer said. "I really think it has helped the game. Golf is a lifelong sport and I hope girls can look back on their high school careers and think, 'I'm 60 years old and I still love playing golf because of the great coaching I got in high school."