Slow play penalty is costly for South Carolina, but the issue lacks consistency

Walt Beazley, Razorbacks Athletics Communications

Slow play penalty is costly for South Carolina, but the issue lacks consistency

College

Slow play penalty is costly for South Carolina, but the issue lacks consistency

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – It’s talked about often, the standardization of college golf. One area that is not consistent throughout the year is pace of play.

There is no obligation to enforce pace of play during the regular season or even during conference championships. How this issue is handled during the season is left entirely up to officials in charge of any given tournament. Often pace of play is ignored completely.

That is not the case during the NCAA postseason, pace of play is adjudicated using a checkpoint system. There have been penalty strokes handed out this week and in the past, so this is not new to the NCAA Championship.

During the first round, the first group off of No. 10 tee at 6:50 a.m. Friday missed several checkpoints. LSU’s Nathan Jeansonne and Ryan Hall of South Carolina each received three-shot penalties for their tardiness. Texas A&M’s Dan Erickson, also in that group, wasn’t penalized. Penalties are assessed after a second checkpoint is missed.

“I think it’s a flawed system and I think they’re put in a tough situation,” South Carolina coach Bill McDonald said. “What you saw on Friday with us was the first group out always has a target on its back.”

Those three shots turned out to be extremely costly for the Gamecocks. South Carolina finished at 38-over-par and two shots shy of Southern California’s 36-over total, which was good enough for 15th place and a spot in the final round.

“You do all you can, but it is difficult because they don’t see it all year,” said McDonald in regard to the stricter pace of play guidelines in the postseason.

Hall is a freshman making his first trip to the NCAA postseason.

“The hardest thing is I have a freshman who was involved, and I was walking with him 16 of the 18 holes for that reason,” McDonald said.

McDonald also pointed out there was plenty of time to make up for the three shots.

“It hurts. We had a lot of golf to play and we didn’t play well. The three strokes are big now, but it happened in the first round and we had plenty of time to make up for it.”

McDonald added: “I respect the rules officials and everyone involved in the tournament and what they’re trying to do.

“I’ve been around this game a long time and I believe things should be looked at with common sense and equity. I don’t fault the people involved at all. I just wonder was the system, what happened to us, applied to the rest of the field?”

In the second round, David Snyder (Stanford) and Kaiwen Liu (California) were each given one-stroke penalties for pace of play infractions.

While pace of play is an issue all year long in the sport, it became a focal point this week when it had such a major impact on one team.

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