A letter to the GCAA pace-of-play panel

Arizona State coach Melissa Luellen with Juliana Murcia.

MANCHESTER-BY-THE-SEA, Mass. - I am in Red Sox Nation this week for the Curtis Cup, but when I received an e-mail on my phone last night, I was in disbelief.

The GCAA has formed a panel to look into slow play? Really?

I have been on a crusade all year to help with the pace-of-play problem in college golf. Here’s a letter to the panel on my thoughts.

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Dear GCAA Pace of Play Researchers,

Thank you for acknowledging that there is a problem with slow play in college golf. What we have seen in the past couple of years has been unacceptable from a competitive stand point.

We should never have to see more than two groups waiting to hit a tee shot on a par 3 or a group always waiting on the same group throughout the day. We should also not allow players to draw geometric diagrams of the putting green before they attempt their putt.

I would like to offer three areas that could help with pace of play:

1.) Make players accountable. When three players tee off they should go directly to their ball. Whomever is away should get a yardage, select his club and take no more than three practice swings. By that time, the other two players in the group should have already gotten their yardages as well. There is no reason the other two players in the group could not have already started their pre-swing routine. If you tell players to prepare themselves more quickly, it will save a minute from each group on each hole.

2.) Shot clock on the green. I am not suggesting that we should have a clock with a buzzer going off every 60 seconds, but time on the greens need to be addressed. No player should exceed 60 seconds to read a putt, address the ball and put a stroke on it. We often see players mark their ball, walk around the green, practice the stroke, align the ball and line it up again and again and again. Let these players know they can’t have several minutes to attempt a putt. It is not necessary.

3.) Blow the whistle. I have spoken to rules officials this year who told me flat out, “Asher, tournaments and coaches that host events tell us not to enforce a penalty for slow play.” Shame on those tournaments and coaches! Let’s face it, some players just don’t move their feet and it bothers other players. One tournament, coach or official needs to take a stand and start handing out penalties to let these guys know slow play is unacceptable.

There is so much more that can be suggested. I hope you look at these suggestions and evaluate them. College rounds taking six hours should never happen. Five hours and fifteen minutes is about the longest it should take. Some tournaments across the country prove it can be done in even less time.

If you have any questions for me, I’d be glad to answer them.

Sincerely,

Asher Wildman

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