By Seminole Golf Club

College golf’s pace of play is inherently slow. That won’t be accepted when the Stephens Cup comes to Seminole Golf Club later this year. In a letter sent to participating schools Friday, Seminole’s leadership notified coaches they will not be allowed to interact with players during competitive rounds. It’s a significant change from typical college events where coaches routinely provide course management advice or shepherd certain players around in a de facto caddie role. “We want to alert you to something that is a long-standing tradition at Seminole, ” head professional Matt Cahill wrote. “That is our emphasis on pace of play. With that in mind, consistent with our standards, we are asking that there be no contact between players and coaches during tournament rounds. We know this is a departure from your current practice, but we think it is crucial to completing each round in a reasonable time period. ”

The Stephens Cup, which began last year at the Alotian Club in Arkansas, is a fall invitational featuring seven top men’s teams and seven top women’s teams. There are 54 holes of stroke play, setting up 18 holes of match play based on where teams finished in stroke play. The event, named after the late Augusta National chairman Jackson T. Stephens, takes place Oct. 9-12 and likely will boast one of the top college fields of the year. Seminole has long taken great pride in expedient golf. A sign near the first tee that reads: “Play well, play fast. Play poorly, play faster, ” and there is pro-shop merchandise with the saying. Caddies are tasked with getting their groups around in less than four hours despite the treacherous putting surfaces. An often-heard sentiment around the club is that one slow player shouldn’t ruin the day for everyone else. “We don’t tolerate slow play, period, from anyone, ” Seminole president Jimmy Dunne told Global Golf Post. “My observation from watching the Stephens Cup – and we’re extremely excited to have it – is that coaches are far too overreaching on the golf course. I kind of like the other extreme of how Jack Nicklaus said (his instructor) Jack Grout never even went on the range let alone the golf course (during competitive play).

The coaches can say whatever they want to the player before they hit the tee shot on No. 1 and whatever they want to them after they make the last putt on 18. But they are not going to be permitted to talk to them on the golf course. If they feel like their team can’t function without (the coaches) out there, we’ll live without them. ” The letter states that coaches are free to follow players as spectators during the round. Coaches can provide feedback or other solutions for speeding up play prior to the tournament. There is not a specific target in mind for how long rounds will take, although less than four hours is an unofficial goal. Dunne said he hopes there is a willingness to penalize slow players, an infraction that is rarely assessed. Last year’s Walker Cup at Seminole had no serious pace-of-play issues, although the match-play format kept the proceedings moving along. Could this experiment turn into a larger trend? It’s certainly a possibility.

“It’s really a sad thing that is happening to golf, ” Dunne said. “We’re going to do whatever we can to have it not happen at Seminole. ”