Reviews mixed on Deertrak, host of Section 1-AA golf tournament

| Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Sites for WPIAL golf individual section tournaments are chosen on a rotating basis. That means courses can range in reputation and conditions, from exclusive country clubs to upscale public layouts, to old-school municipal tracks.

Players don't have to like the courses — and not all of them do — but they have to learn to, at least for 18 holes.

Deertrak Golf Club in Kittanning will host the boys Section 1-AA tournament starting at 10 a.m. Monday as the WPIAL individual postseason begins.

The rural course is only nine holes and measures 3,108 yards (doubled that's 6,216) from the white tees. The course has two par 5s, but none of its par 4s are more than 400 yards.

Leechburg, Freeport and Burrell are three of the teams from Section 1-AA that will play the course. Reactions to the site are mixed.

“I don't understand why we would play a WPIAL section qualifier at a nine-hole course; it's too abnormal to truly test golfers,” said Leechburg senior Matt Barto, the defending WPIAL Class AA champion. “It tests a player because of its quirkiness and firmness, not because of the actual layout. It can allow anyone to factor in if they are lucky.”

Freeport's Cole Hepler said Deertrak has similarities to Buffalo Golf Course, his team's home course.

That said, “I can manage roughed-up courses and handle bad-lie situations,” Hepler said. “It'll be a fun course to play, and I'm looking forward to it.”

Burrell senior T.J. Swigart is with Barto on the issue.

“I feel like it's not exactly a fair test of our abilities if we are playing the same nine twice,” Swigart said. “I feel there should be a rule against it. I am not a fan of the course in any way. The greens are like a putt-putt course with no (barriers).”

In all, nine sectionals in Class AAA and eight in Class AA will be contested across the next two days.

Other sites hosting local sectionals are Rittswood for Section 8-AAA (Monday) and Pittsburgh Field Club for Section 4-AAA (Tuesday) and Pittsburgh National for Section 3-AA (Tuesday).

The top five finishers and those shooting the designated target score (within 10 shots of the course rating) will advance — to the semifinals in Class AAA or straight to the championship in Class AA.

The semifinals will be at three different sites. The top 12 at each advance to the finals.

The Class AA championship will be Sept. 25 at Sewickley Heights Country Club. The Class AAA tournament will be Oct. 2 at Diamond Run Golf Club.

On the girls side, the top five finishers and those within 20 shots of the designated target score at the sectional tournaments advance to the championship.

The Class AAA and Class AA finals will be Sept. 30 at Hill Crest Country Club in Lower Burrell.

Vandergrift Golf Club will host Section 3-AAA on Wednesday even though Kiski Area dropped its team this season.

Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at

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