Ping/Golfweek preview good model for pace of play

Georgia Tech head coach Bruce Heppler with former player James White

Georgia Tech head coach Bruce Heppler with former player James White

WOODSTOCK, Ga. – Most everyone knows – and complains – about the pace of play at college tournaments. It’s like mud dripping through a small funnel – slow, slow and slower.

I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve been at events that took 5 1/2-6 hours for a single round. It’s extremely frustrating for those of us watching and even for those who are playing.

Coaches have stressed picking up the pace of play at tournaments they are hosting. In some instances it has worked.

One of those was at the recent Ping/Golfweek Preview just outside of Atlanta.

When I saw the Capital City Club's Crabapple course during this year’s Preview practice round, I figured it was going to be three very long days of competition.

The course, which will host the 2013 NCAA Division I Championship, measured 7,248 yards and played to a par 70 (two normally par 5s turned into lengthy par 4s. And, on a number of holes, there were long walks between greens and the next tees.

Bruce Heppler, coach of host team Georgia Tech, stressed pace of play during the pre-tournament coaches meeting. Sometimes, though, this seems to fall on deaf ears.

But not this time. And, with the American Junior Golf Association serving as rules officials and implementing the organization’s successful pace of play program, it all came together well.

All three rounds were played in under five hours. That may not seem great on the surface, but taking everything under consideration, I’d say it was fantastic.

The 15-team, 75-player field completed the opening round in 4:45. The second round showed 4:41 and the final day came in at 4:38.

“I think our pace of play this week was great,” said Scott Sullivan of Ping. “The AJGA did an outstanding job of keeping things moving along. To play this course in under five hours was wonderful.”

Added Heppler, “I think we showed you can have some quality golf and play it in a reasonable timely fashion. I don’t think any of the players felt they were being rushed. I think we showed you don’t have to take 5 1/2 or 6 hours. It sure makes for a better and more enjoyable tournament experience.”

Hopefully this is a trend that will continue at tournaments throughout the season and beyond. It’s time to turn that mud into free-flowing water.

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