Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Stanford Intercollegiate and...Chocolate?

            I can’t take any credit for the method, nor can I say we’re the first one to try it, but there is now a proven successful motivation for quicker pace of play in women’s collegiate events – chocolate.
            The second round of the Stanford Intercollegiate is complete, and it was complete in a much quicker fashion today.  There were only 3 missed checkpoints, one of which was caused directly by a lengthy ruling, and there were no potential penalties. The finishing times for the final groups were 17 minutes faster of the first tee and 19 minutes faster off the tenth tee. So what factors contributed to the improved pace of play?
            You can decide which was the most important for yourselves:

The Second Round is Always Faster

This may be true, but it’s not a steadfast rule.  Generally once fields are re-paired by score and players are more comfortable with the tournament and course the pace quickens.  It also helps that regardless of whether today’s hole locations were friendlier or not, the players were more comfortable with them.

Better Communication From the Starters

            Our starters are trained on what to say before they ever start a field in an event of this caliber and we also go over specifics of notes to say to each specific event.  We increased the emphasis on pace of play in this morning’s starter speech and it showed.  Player’s only listen to one or two things you say on the tee, so making sure the one thing they remember is pace of play can make or break the day.

A Penalty Was Issued in the First Round

            I’m a huge supporter of the belief that in order for pace of play to improve penalties must be enforced.  When you use a checkpoint policy it is very easy to let the potential penalties off the hook even when they don’t have a good reason for missing the checkpoints.  We have a very good and experienced Rules Committee and the penalty that stuck yesterday was earned.  It also sent a message to the field.  Anytime a pace of play penalty is upheld it reverberates through the field and everyone adds a little quickness to their step.  It’s a simple fact – no one is afraid of your pace of play policy until you actually use it.

A Prize of Chocolate

            I would like to believe that this surprise was the biggest contributing factor to today’s improved pace of play, but I know logic would support one of the 3 previously listed reasons.  Part of the improved message on the tee today was that if a group made all four checkpoints they would get a prize at the scoring table.  The prize? Chocolate.  Hershey’s Kisses to be exact.  It’s a method that would never work in a men’s event (not trying to be sexist but guys just don’t light up at the sight of chocolate the way the women today did), but it was incredibly fun to see the girls’ excitement at such a seemingly small gesture.  We would ask them if they had made all their checkpoints (we knew the 3 who hadn't anyway) and if they remembered being promised anything by the starter.  Most of them lit up and said "Yeah a surprise!"  We then handed over the Hershey's Kisses, and rather than the slight slump of minor disappointment I thought might occur, I witnessed wide-eyed excitement at every group! I have every intention of continuing this method where possible and continue testing new ways to improve pace of play, including a different chocolate candy treat for the final round tomorrow...  

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