Slow pace of play in college golf is unacceptable

Ever since I started at Golfweek, I have been told to accept the fact that college golf is slow. Sometimes it’s even ridiculously slow to the point that an entire football game could be watched from pre-game to post-game before a college golfer is done with 18 holes. That isn’t right!

Coaches have said, “Well, my guy takes his time.”

Other coaches have said, “That’s college golf.”

Both answers should be unacceptable. I have some solutions that I wish someone would actually implement in the game.

The one thing that a majority of these golfers do not do is play ready golf. So many times in pairings while the first player is addressing the ball, the other two (or three) players become spectators. Why?

Why in the world can’t the next player be selecting his club, taking his practice swing, finding his yardage, looking at the pin sheet or even tying his shoe while the first player is setting up to his shot?

Let’s face it and admit it right now – these athletes don’t play ready golf. It’s time coaches take a stand and teach their players to be ready for the next shot. Let me tell you what I saw last week at Battle at the Beach that made me sick.

I was standing on the green of a par 5. Two players were on the fringe, one player was on the green and the other was 40 yards from the green. The fourth player from 40 yards out paced off the distance to the green, walked the green, then walked back to his ball and went through his pre-shot routine. Forget for a moment how frustrating it is that he paced off a feel shot and consider how frustrating it is that the two players on the fringe didn’t chip or putt while standing on the green? They didn’t even consider playing a shot. They just stood around waiting for the fourth player to hit up.

Those are the kinds of little things that add up to five and six hour rounds. It’s time we stop blaming the players and call out coaches. They need to tell their players to start playing ready golf. This would guarantee quicker rounds, and a better pace of play.

Another idea that should become a reality is putting shot clocks on the greens. Think I’m kidding? Some players spend way too much time contemplating the most minuscule two-foot putt. It should not take a player more than 45 seconds to place his ball, read a putt, practice a stroke, putt, then either pick the ball up out of the hole or mark it.

What happens instead? A player will put his ball down, take a tour of the real estate (not just on the green but through the entire city’s zip code it seems), squat from all 360 degrees of the hole, walk back to the ball, pick up the ball marker, step back, take a practice stroke, address the ball, putt, take another tour of the green as he looks baffled the ball didn’t go in, murmur something under his breath, mark the ball, then mope out of the next person’s way.

Are you kidding me?

That deserves a one-stroke penalty for mental unsportsmanlike conduct.

I’m tired of hearing all the coaches, players, Ringler, Balicki and myself complain about it. It’s time something is done, but the question is: Will anyone ever do anything about it?

Sadly, I believe I already know the answer.

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