Teeing off with technology: high school golfers track real-time scoring with new cellphone app

MIAA Golf, an app created by iWanamaker, was developed to provide real-time statistics and scoring during matches. Thus far, the Catholic Conference, Patriot League, Tri-Valley League, Mid-Wach, Southern Worcester County League, Dual Valley Conference, Northeastern Conference, and Commonwealth Conference have signed up for the “pilot program.” Additionally, 12 schools have registered on their own, for a total of 103 schools.

“We are continuing to push the sport forward with things like this,” said Ashland first-year athletic director Kevin Anderson. “We really have to embrace the technology that’s there for us to enhance that experience for the fans and student-athletes.”

The use of the app is simple: as a match progresses, each team keeps track of their opponents’ scoring and live standings are available to players and fans. It may seem odd for teams to track their opponents, but it’s done to ensure accountability and transparency in the system.

“I appreciate the willingness of athletic directors, coaches and athletes that have stepped up to test the platform,” said Phil Napolitano, the MIAA’s assistant executive director and golf liaison.

“There’s no one better equipped to give us feedback on how something works than those who are in the trenches every day on the golf course.”

Dover-Sherborn and Millis were two of first teams to debut the app on Aug. 19 at Pinecrest. D-S won, 215-250, and the app’s functions were highlighted immediately when the player-by-player scores were posted immediately after the completion of the round.

D-S coach Jon Kirby has a self-described “old-school” mentality when it comes to technology on the course, but he does see the system’s potential benefits.

“I think it’s going to be a great tool,” Kirby said. “The MIAA deserves credit for hooking their wagon to a good platform like this. I think the potential is going to be a lot of fun.”

The Tri-Valley League had a similar scoring apparatus last year that was maintained by Holliston coach Chris Murphy. His retirement presented an opportunity for the new system to be rolled out.

“Our league was ahead of the curve in the past so the timing of this was perfect,” Kirby said.

Holliston High’s Lucas Haynes checked his scoring through the new MIAA Golf app developed by iWanamaker during Friday’s match against Ashland and Millis at Pinecrest Golf Club. Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

One concern is that interface could lead to players having their phones out during matches and getting distracted. It is a legitimate worry, but Napolitano believes it won’t be a problem, with the right leadership in place.

“Any time you roll something out, there’s going to be apprehension. I’ve talked with other states and there’s not many complaints about kids improperly using their cellphones,” he said. “With good strong coaching and good captains . . . I’m going to start with trust and put my faith in that these are good student-athletes and they’re going to use it for what it’s intended for.”

This technology isn’t new for individual players — a number of area golfers use systems such as Golf Handicap Information Network (GHIN) or Junior Golf Scoreboard. However, the league-wide shift shows a commitment to the innovative changes in high school golf.

“At all the tournaments that I play separately, there’s a lot of online leaderboards and a lot of them I do online by myself,” said Tim Hill, a senior at Dover-Sherborn. “Now it’s becoming a normal thing and I think it’s good for high school golf to get in on it.”

Added Kirby, “My players can’t get enough information, they really hunger for greens in regulation, how many putts, and that kind of thing. There’s an opportunity to track all of that . . . it’s going to be a great tool for them.”

MIAA Golf is subscription-based, however. Any spectator, including the parents of a golfer in an event, has to pay $5 to get live scoring for one match, or pay $30 for the entire season. There are also family packages that are $90 for four users.

“It’s similar to parents who are going to watch their kid on a Friday night football game,” said Napolitano.

Added Anderson, “It’s really hard when you’re sitting at your desk and your son or daughter is playing a really meaningful match that you can’t be at . . . to be able to follow it live on your screen is awesome.”

Gone are the days of match scores being reported long after the final hole or parents not getting results until hours later.

“The main purpose is to highlight the sport, and be able to consume it in a way that I think in 2023 people are ready to consume golf with live scoring,” said Napolitano.

Kriegsman shot a team-low 37 and her Clockers looked sharp in their tuneup before a match against Tri-Valley rival Norwood Tuesday.

“I really like how it helps me see, if I miss the fairway, where I usually miss, things like that,” she said. “It’s going to be so helpful this year because I want to keep track of all my high school matches.”

Chip shots

▪ Duxbury and Bishop Stang, who tied for runner-up honors behind Old Rochester in the Division 2 final last October at Maplegate CC, squared off in a nonleague match Thursday afternoon at the Country Club of New Bedford. Stang prevailed, 194-182, thanks to UConn commit Matt Costello (2-under-par 37), a returning Globe All-Scholastic who has been a member of the varsity golf team since middle school.

▪ It only took three days of matches for the first reported ace of the season: as Central Catholic Alex Barnard holed out the third hole at Atkinson Resort and Country Club in a 19-1 win over Dracut Wednesday.

▪ King Philip, the three-time defending Hockomock champion, started with a 149-191 decision against Stoughton and a 161-206 win over Taunton . . . Sandwich opened with wins over new South Shore League rivals Middleborough and East Bridgewater . . . Hingham, led by Massachusetts Junior Amateur champion Carson Erick, opens its season Wednesday at Patriot League foe Marshfield . . . In the South Coast Conference, defending Division 2 champion Old Rochester opened with a 243-294 win over Seekonk. Weston, the reigning Division 3 champion, lost its Dual County League match against Westford, a Division 1 program, 42.5-29.5. BC High, the reigning D1 champion, opens up against St. John’s Shrewsbury Wednesday at Franklin Park.

Globe correspondent Joe Eachus contributed to this report.

Khalin Kapoor can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on twitter @khalinkapoor.

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