Prairie coach instrumental in changes to state golf tournament

Paul Shapard part of compromise that will crown a true team champion

For years, he was against any major change in high school golf at the state level. Well, at least for the change that was initially proposed.

Longtime Prairie High School golf coach Paul Shapard was on the committee that recommended changes to the state tournament. Beginning next school year, 16 teams will qualify for state in the Class 4A and 3A tournaments, allowing for a true team champion. Photo courtesy of Paul Shapard
Longtime Prairie High School golf coach Paul Shapard was on the committee that recommended changes to the state tournament. Beginning next school year, 16 teams will qualify for state in the Class 4A and 3A tournaments, allowing for a true team champion. Photo courtesy of Paul Shapard

Paul Shapard, the longtime golf coach at Prairie High School, was so vocal through the years that he was asked to be on the committee to come up with a solution.

Earlier this week, the WIAA announced changes to the state golf tournament in Class 4A and 3A beginning in 2019: There will be a true team champion crowned, using total strokes.

“I’m 110 percent for it,” Shapard said this week.

He acknowledged he went to the committee meeting this past fall ready to argue against the move. That is because in the past, those for changing the system had only suggested bringing in teams to state but at the cost of individuals. This time, the committee came up with a compromise, expanding the field to allow for 16 teams of five players, plus 34 more individuals for a total of 114 participants.

That would be up from the 80 golfers who are expected to compete at state this spring.

“I tried to get it to 128,” Shapard said with a laugh.

“It’s gone through a process. When it wasn’t fair, in my mind, I was totally against it,” Shapard said. “When I went into that meeting … they said ‘Here’s our new proposal.’ I like the idea of more kids.”

An earlier proposal included six-player teams, which would have cut into the number of individuals from other schools to make it to state. Dropping to five players for a squad and adding to the field, it just made sense to Shapard.

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