Sprinkler search waters down slow players even more Area golf notes


For those who wonder why golf's pace of play continues to get worse, Clyde Luther has some answers.

As an expert on rules, Luther officiates at many major tournaments in Maryland and is assigned to most of the top championships staged by the U.S. Golf Association at sites throughout the country.

"Let me say at the outset, I have noted many reasons why it is taking so long to play a round of golf, but I, unfortunately, do not have a sure cure for them," Luther said. "I guess in my position, I should be more understanding of slow play. But it makes me furious to see such wasting of time.

"Possibly the biggest time-waster among tournament players is their constant searching for water sprinkler heads," said Luther, a vice president of the Middle Atlantic Golf Association. "Most courses today have their sprinkler heads marked with distances from the greens. And since there is no routine manner in which the markers are placed in the fairways, a round of golf sometimes looks more like a treasure hunt.

"It used to be that most clubs offered signs or bushes indicating distances from the greens. At one point the USGA frowned upon this, feeling golfers should use their own instincts in judging distances. However, officials may reconsider using obvious indicators again to prevent the constant searching for partially buried sprinklers.

"Then the golf glove comes into a portion of time-wasting," he said. "Those using gloves take them off to putt, then put them on again for the next tee shot. The tugging to get a firm re-fit sometimes seems endless.

"The unusual habits some golfers have in addressing the ball also can eat the clock. I once counted a player taking 26 waggles of his club before striking at the ball.

"When carts first came on the golf scene, they speeded play," Luther said. "While driving down the middle of the fairways, or even in the edges of the roughs, a riding golfer moved faster than a walker. But there now are so many restrictions on where carts can be driven, they are hurting the pace.

"Take two 25-handicap players playing out of the same cart, restrict them to staying on the cart paths, and there is constant strolling back and forth across the fairways.

"Of course, none of these time-wasters seem important when, after a player is asked to pick up the pace he replies: What's the hurry? And I don't have the answer."

* Ralph Bogart, 71, of Chevy Chase Club continued his amazing string of late-season triumphs when he won the Middle Atlantic Golf Association's Senior Championship at the Willow Oaks CC in Richmond.

Competing in the Group IV over-70 age class, Bogart was overall winner of the championship with a score of 73. His closest opponent was Del Smith of Brandermill, scoring 74.

Other age division winners were: Group I-Dick Stearns with 76, Group II-Jerry Watts 75, Group III-Brad Tazewell 77 and Group IV-Fred Gianiny 81.

In the two previous weeks Bogart staged qualifying rounds for both the USGA's Senior Open and Senior Amateur championships.

* An update of Marylanders on the men's tour: Fred Funk with earnings of $222,553 ranks 59th on the PGA Tour, Dick Henderson with $173,850 for 24th on the Senior Tour and Webb Heintzelman with $48,319 for ninth place on the Ben Hogan Tour.

* Arrangements have been completed for the Mazda LPGA Championship to return to Bethesda CC next season. In the past, it was held in the heat of summer, but next year's championship is scheduled for May.

Meg Mallon won the event this summer with a dramatic birdie on the final hole.

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