Mailbag: Are coaches to blame for slow play?

It's Friday, which means it’s time to go to the mailbag... I mean e-mail inbox.

After all my bickering about slow play in college golf, I asked for suggestions. I have gotten several great ideas, but was delighted to find this e-mail from a coach.

This week, Long Beach State University coach Bill Poutre tells it like it is.

• • •

Asher,

I hope all is well. You were asking for feedback from the coaches and you know I am not one to keep my opinion to myself, so here we go.

photo

Courtesy Long Beach State

Bill Poutre

The problem is caused by one group and one group only, THE COACHES. I am guilty in some ways with this and I will explain.

The problem is not 200-yard par 3’s, foursomes, difficult greens or golf courses, or, for the most part, field size. Today’s college golfers have crazy talent and they can get around a difficult golf course if they are pushed by the coaches.

First, I will talk about where I am guilty and responsible. Coaches hosting tournaments must enforce pace of play, be willing to issue penalties and most importantly not invite teams back that play slowly. If coaches felt their invitations would be taken away if their team was playing slowly, I think you would see a change.

We hosted two events this year and allowed some teams to hold up the field. We never issued a penalty but it is not too late to withhold future invitations from teams that were brutally guilty of slow play. This will surely get some attention and it is something I feel a responsibility to do. We cannot fix this problem unless we take action. I feel all schools hosting events should do this and eventually the biggest offenders will comply.

Second, let your players play and stay out of their way! There are players that would not dare hit a putt until the coach looks at it from more than one angle and gets the coach’s approval. Give me a break!

In addition, it is not just putts. It is club selection off the tee, trouble shots, approach shots, etc... Get this stuff done during the practice round and let the players play. Hall of Fame Basketball Coach Dean Smith from North Carolina said it best when he said, “Coaches are in the business of preparation and players are in the business of execution.” Very well said and we must take this approach. If the players are prepared well enough, coaches should be able to stay out of the way.

photo

Stephanie Connelly waits to hit a shot during the 2009 UCF Challenge.

Third, I was guilty of this at The Battle at The Beach. Although I hate golf carts, some courses require carts for pace of play. Pelican Hill is one of those courses and we will use carts for all three rounds in next year’s event. We did take carts in the third round and it saved more than 45 minutes.

In summary, we, the coaches, are responsible for our teams. If we are going to take some credit for our successes, let’s be willing to fess up to our failures.

Slow play is our fault, period. If each coach made it a priority with their team, the problem will go away. If a coach let players know he would not take slow players on the road, the players would move faster. By withholding invitations from slow-playing teams, coaches would start to recognize that slow players could be detrimental to his golf program.

It is our responsibility. We have let it go on long enough. Let’s put our foot down.

• • •

Coach, thanks for the e-mail.

If you want to take over Wildman’s Corner on a Friday, be sure to send in your thoughts, emails or questions to me at awildman@golfweek.com.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

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