Fast and slow
Imagine if football practice started and after about a week the teams got together for a couple of days to determine which one was the league champion.
After less than two weeks of the season, you’d be dishing out the district title to one of those schools.
Sounds incredibly far-fetched doesn’t it.
Yet, that’s what we have with another fall sport — golf.
The VHSL officially opened practice on July 30. By Aug. 7, the Northwestern District had crowned its regular-season champion.
Based on two tournament results — a district mini on Aug. 5 and the annual Curly Licklider Tournament on Aug. 7 — Kettle Run captured the Northwestern title and earned a regional playoff berth.
Granted there was another district mini scheduled on Aug. 9 that would have factored in, but was canceled due to a scheduling snafu.
Still, you’re talking three tournaments in the span of five days to determine a district champion less than two weeks after practice officially opened.
While players should be playing their best golf after the summer, even this seems pretty quick. Certainly they better be playing their best golf because there’s very little a coach can do in the limited practice time — other than choosing the best six players — that will make an impact in the regular-season title chase.
And 36 holes seems like an awful small sample size to determine a champion. Since the Licklider, several of our area golfers have improved their scores significantly, especially in the second round of the annual Bryan Gunter Memorial on Tuesday.
This is to take nothing away from Kettle Run, which obviously has an excellent golf team, a squad that very well could qualify for the state championships. The Cougars may well be head and shoulder above the rest of the district teams, which now will battle for the remaining two regional berths at the Sept. 23 district tournament at Fauquier Springs.
We’re just saying declaring a district champ less than two weeks after practice starts seems a little fast.
While we were talking about something moving quickly in the sport, golf on the professional level is dealing with a problem about something that is too slow.
It’s the pace of players.
Routinely, rounds are taking more than 5.5 and 6 hours to play.
That’s a miserable pace of play and if it was that bad on our municipal courses many of us would never take the clubs out of the garage.
Current world No. 1 Brooks Koepka and No. 3 Rory McIlroy have been outspoken about how long some players take to hit a shot.
Things came to a head last week when Bryson DeChambeau, the world’s No. 8 player, took an extraordinary amount of time for two shots in a Friday round. He took more than three minutes to play a 70-yard pitch, walking all of the way to the hole and back before hitting. He also took more than two minutes to pull the trigger on an eight-foot putt.
His playing partners Justin Thomas and Tommy Fleetwood could have been arrested for the murderous looks they were giving DeChambeau. Pro Eddie Pepperell tweeted that DeChambeau is an “unaffected single minded twit.”
Obviously, DeChambeau was unhappy at being singled out and he is far from being the only slow player on tour. Many players say they need more time because so much money is on the line.
The problem is that while playing within a reasonable time is part of the rules of golf (you’re supposed to hit within 40 seconds), it’s rarely enforced. Players will be warned during a round but the last time a PGA Tour player received a slow play penalty was back in 1995. The tour now says it is “exploring” changes to its pace of play policies.
Many of us were taught to play “ready golf” when we were starting the sport. Be ready when it’s your turn. That’s proper etiquette.
Koepka estimates it takes him about 15 seconds to make up his mind and hit a shot.
It seems to be working pretty well for him.