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Qualifying School

Is six rounds too much at Q School?

In Alternate Shot, Steve Carroll and Mark Townsend lock horns over the duration of Q School – the tournament that seems to last forever
 

It’s been in full flow since Saturday and yet there are still the best part of two rounds to complete at Lumine and Q School. Is the tournament just too long? Steve Carroll and Mark Townsend have their say in Alternate Shot…

Yes, says Steve Carroll

It’s day five at Lumine and it feels like Groundhog Day.

But for those players striving to earn their tour cards, the previous four days have been nothing but jostling. Now is when the hard work really starts.

But should it be like this? Should these guys really be put through this kind of mental torment over almost an entire week? I’m arguing no.

You don’t make a Test match seven days just because it’s the Ashes so why mess about with a tried-and-tested format at Q School when there are livelihoods on the line?

We ask players every week to play 72-hole tournaments. It’s what they are used to and what they expect. And yet in the most important week of the year for some, the torment is piled on.

Most of them hate it. Jigger Thomson called it ‘offensively long’. His is one of the more polite responses.

Everyone is running on fumes at the death, which is when the stakes are ramped up to their highest. It’s not just the physical act of playing six rounds – the gym routine of the modern player  can prepare you for that.

It’s the mental torture as well, the days and nights spent worrying and wondering about yet another round and what the future might hold.

We don’t put our stars through this in the majors so why do it here? Four rounds is plenty.

No, says Mark Townsend

All we ever hear about is the need for more formats and something different to get more people into the game so what’s the problem? With six rounds we get a Saturday start, golf on Monday-Wednesday when we’re all short of something to follow on our phones and then a Thursday finish. By Friday the rest of the golfing world has swung into action so we’re off an running again, perfect.

The whole ‘romance’ of Q School is that it’s an endurance test and whoever comes through it can’t have fluked it. For 108 holes they will have recorded every shot, generally moaned about every putt and exhausted both themselves, their caddies, their wardrobes and their small talk.

All this comes on the back of a never-ending season, if you’ve done it the hard way you’ll have come straight from Stage 2 and you’re on the same merry-go-round as various other players doing the precise same thing. The same chats, the same faces, the same questions it’s as mentally battering as it is physically, just as it should be.

Q School is Groundhog Day on steroids, scores go up on giant scoreboards and, at the end of the day, scores come down. Repeat to fade for six days. Magnificent.

At the end of it all for plenty of these boys is a lifelong dream, it’s meant to be a tough school. If you can do this everything else will seem a breeze – until you do get to the main tour and then have to shoot 5-under just to make the cut.

Anyway, think yourselves lucky. The LPGA has just finished their Q School after EIGHT rounds. In comparison six should feel like nine holes after work.

NCG

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