Is It Time for a Change


After spending Monday and Tuesday at the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., there were many story lines that made an impression on me - from the continued great play of Augusta State to the extraordinary final round of Clemsons D.J. Trahan.
But the one thing that unexpectedly caught my attention was on Monday - and I mean all of Monday. Golfers played from the first light of day until it was too dark to see.
This top-notch event was a two-day affair, with 36 holes played on day No. 1. The first groups were off as soon as there was enough daylight, with the final players finishing up well after that sun had come and gone. If not for the cars and trucks shining their headlights on the scoreboard, I would not have been able to see who was in the lead heading to the final round.
Make no mistake about it, this is not a knock on this event and those associated with it. In fact it was one of the best-run tournaments I have ever seen. Kudos to North Florida coach John Brooks and the people at Sawgrass C.C.
The problem I have relates to the 24 days of competition a Divison I team has to play before postseason. The tournament, therefore, HAD to be played in just two days. There has to be a better equation which would allow teams to play the same amount of events, without the struggle of forcing 36 holes into one day.
I know what you are thinkingThese are young kids who can handle the long dayIt is just golfnot the most strenuous activity in the world. Legitimate arguments, perhaps, but I dont buy it.
These players had the use of carts, and still couldnt finish 36 holes in what was nearly a 12-hour window. The final threesome made the turn at almost 4:30 pm, with nine holes still ahead of them. This on a venue which hosted The Players Championship from 1977-1981. You certainly cant expect even the best of college players to play a quick nine in an hour and forty five minutes.

The solution seems easy - allow three days for 54-hole events, with 18 being played each day. But in that solution comes the problem - the 24-day rule. Use too many days for competition, and the result would be less events for college players to showcase their skills.
I feel it is time for the NCAA and coaches to sit down and map out a suitable alternative. Yes, it may mean another day here and there on the road, and another day here and there out of the classroom. But keep in mind, college golfers are routinely near the top with regard to GPAs and graduation rates. Just like on the golf course, these student-athletes would find a way to get it done in the classroom.
Its something to think about as this game continues to turn out the next crop of superstars. But before that day comes for the select few, let the college players of today enjoy the game as it should be playedwalking 18 holes a day.