Pac-12 Men's Golf Takes On Slow Play
During its annual coaches meeting prior to the 2011 Pac-10 Men's Golf Championship, the Pac-12 men's golf coaches came together to start a conference-wide effort to improve pace of play in college golf. It was at that meeting of coaches and administrators that a challenge was extended to do something about the growing problem of slow play and the group agreed to take action and be leaders by creating awareness and educating not only their student-athletes, but the golf community as well.
A committee of three Pac-12 coaches was formed (USC's Chris Zambri, Colorado's Roy Edwards, and Washington's Matt Thurmond). After several meetings the committee decided to implement three simple steps to be followed at all Pac-12 hosted events during the 2011-2012 season:
1. Record all round times and submit to the committee with feedback of what worked and what didn't.
2. The first person to "putt-out" on each hole is to begin working toward the next tee. The order of "honor" on the next tee is determined by the order in which they putted out on the last hole.
3. Distribute the following "Pac-12 Pace of Play Tips" to all coaches and players at each tournament and encourage coaches to review them with their student-athletes in their team meetings.
Pac-12 Pace of Play Tips
• Build a pre-shot routine that is well under 40 seconds so you don't ever have to worry about being "on the clock."
• Play ready golf—if someone isn't quite ready to play for whatever reason, help them out and be ready to go before them. Work together.
• Walk quickly.
• Watch errant shots for the entire group so any searches can be quick.
• Take a rake into the bunker with you.
• Second to last person in the group can get the flagstick. Others move toward next tee.
• First person to "putt out" has the "honor" on the next tee.
• Elect to "finish" on the green whenever you can.
• It's okay to leave your ball on the green, unmarked, if the ball is out of the way of other players' lines. This will allow you to immediately get into your putt when it is your turn.
• Place your bag between the hole and the next tee to avoid back-tracking.
• Check pin sheet, wind, and yardage book before it is your turn to hit. Do it as you are walking to your ball. Be ready when it is your turn.
• If you have the shortest drive or are furthest from the hole after the shot to the green you need to walk quicker and be ready first.
• Hit a provisional ball whenever it may be possibly needed.
• Walk ahead to the lay up area when another player has to wait to go for a Par 5.
• If there is no Rules Official close by, proceed under Rule 3-3 and play two balls.
"We wanted to start slow and learn about what works and what doesn't work from our different coaches," said University of Washington Coach, Matt Thurmond. "While there are many ideas and theories out there, Roy, Chris, and I wanted to make sure we had something that everyone could easily do in the first year."
In the fall season, five Pac-12 schools hosted events and provided feedback and round times. Colorado, Washington State, Washington, California, and UCLA all tried different concepts of course setup, pairings, tee times, and approaches to pace of play, with varying results. That feedback has been assembled by the committee for future study and implementation.
"The Pac-12 is at the forefront of addressing improving pace of play in competitive golf," said Roy Edwards of Colorado. "At our home tournament we saw an improvement in per round times of 20 minutes from 2010 to 2011. The difference was that we enacted these simple Pac-12 Pace of Play tips any player can do to improve their pace."
Other Pac-12 coaches have implemented these steps at their tournaments during the spring season and have provided additional information for the committee to review. After analysis of that data, the group plans to implement Phase II of the Pace of Play Plan for the 2012-2013 Season. By gaining awareness of the issue on what works and doesn't work, Pac-12 golf programs will be in a better position to educate and make a difference for their sport.
"Participation in our sport appears to be waning. There may be other reasons than five-plus hour rounds, but they certainly are not helping," said USC coach Chris Zambri. However, Zambri sees the big picture and what role the Pac-12 can have in improving this problem. "If we can do our part in creating the habit of playing faster, our players can take those habits out on the Tour. With that, we hope the public will follow suit and play faster themselves. This will help make golf healthier, and when golf is healthy, we all benefit."
The Pac-12 coaches plan to implement the Pace of Play Tips during the Pac-12 Men's Golf Championship which will be held Friday, April 27-Sunday, April 29, at Trysting Tree Golf Course, Corvallis, Ore.