In a famous scene in the seminal sports movie “Hoosiers,” small-town Hickory High School has reached the state basketball final. The team walks into Butler Fieldhouse, and the players stand slack-jawed staring at the cavernous building and thousands of empty seats. Coach Norman Dale, played by Gene Hackman, diffuses their awe by showing his team that the basket is 10 feet from the floor in Indianapolis just like the gym in rural Hickory.

In football it is 100 yards from end zone to end zone. The field goal posts are always 10 yards deep. In baseball the next base is always 90 feet away and the mound is always 60 feet, 6 inches from home plate.

Golf does not have that continuity of playing field. A long uphill par 3 does not play the same way as a downhill par 3. In few high school sports is the playing surface or location as much a part of determining the outcome as it is in golf.

Greens slope, undulate and generally confound golfers in different ways at different courses.

Almost anytime there is a round of consequence, players are offered a practice round. They get a chance to see what par 4s play like a par 5, which par 5s are reachable in two.

But the public course kids who make up the six other teams in Region 4 won’t get that chance before Monday’s Region 4 mega-match.

“That’s one thing that’s been stuck in my craw for the last couple of years,” Saegertown coach Brian Hanley said. “They can come down to Venango Valley (Saegertown’s home course) and play, but we can’t go up there and play. I don’t think that is very fair.

“The last region meet was at Venango Valley and leading up to it we saw four or five teams out there practicing right along side of us.”

Fairview hosts the final round of the Region 4 season Monday at private Lakeshore Country Club with the team region title and spots in the individual and team District 10 tournaments on the line, many of the players will be walking in cold. Hanley said there are three or four players on the bubble for earning a spot into the District 10 individual tournament.

“It’s difficult for any player to approach a course without a plan or any preparation,” Linesville golf coach Bob Slevin said.

Tee times are available only to club members and their guests or members of clubs with reciprocal agreements. Even if players can find a way to get a tee time they still face a $65 green fee — that’s a pretty steep ticket for a crowd that’s used to paying $1.50 for lunch.

“It would have been nice to go over (Saturday) or (today) and play a practice round,” Cambridge Springs golf coach Larry Shreffler said. “It would definitely be to our advantage to go over and see the course.”

Shreffler and Slevin aren’t complaining, they are just being pragmatic.

Linesville plays better at its home course, Oakland Beach, Slevin said. But, he said, opponents can schedule a practice round or show up any time and pay the green fees for a practice round.

“Cambridge hasn’t been able to get up there and play,” Slevin said. “Which team will do better, you can guess Fairview.”

General McLane coach Jim Delsandro said he has thought about addressing the issue in the offseason.

“It’s definitely a home-course advantage,” he said.

If players are not going to be able to play the course prior to the match, Fairview should hold its match earlier in the year, Delsandro said.

Shreffler is not too worried. His team holds a two-point lead and has played well at courses where his team was unfamiliar with the course.

“We’ll have to see what happens,” he said. “But it helps to have a two-point lead.”

Dominick DiRienzo can be reached at 724-6370, ext. 274 or by e-mail at

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