My first competitive golf event in 2011 had groups going off in threesomes. My round took an agonizing 5 hours 40 minutes to complete. And yet I am signing up to experience the highs and lows of competitive play again this September and won’t be surprised if the time to finish is similar. So I want to state the context around my issues with slow play; it is not keeping me off the course. I feel it keeps those considering playing, or people who may play occasionally from moving up to an ‘avid’ player. And as lovers of the game we can acknowledge it would be great if there were more like us!
These are items which I feel can be operationalized, communicated and legislated (as appropriate) to make the game more enjoyable, faster and engaging to more people.
10 Items to Support Proper Pace of Play (items 6-10) (click here to see items 1-5)
6. Course conditioning
One of the things we love about golf is also one of the largest culprits of slow play. We want to play courses that are excellent and difficult. We want to emulate the pros. But layout, and to a larger extent, course conditioning, plays an important role in the issue of slow play. Tight fairways, lightning fast greens, and a lack of safe places to miss on some holes are only three issues that superintendents can address to support pace of play. But understand that tougher courses may simply take longer to play because they’re harder.
7. Penalize Pros.
Let’s be honest, the PGA Tour (and other golf tours for that matter) are the greatest enablers of slow play. They pay lip service to the issue but do next to nothing which means they have no problem with pace on play on tour and in the game of golf. Facts are, however, we’re not all PGA tour pros. Golfing is not what most of us do for a living and when 4 hour rounds become 5+ hours, we see a disconnect between expectation and reality and as such, are less inclined to make a time commitment that has no degree of certainty. Pros are part of the golf ‘food chain’; an important part. They are role models and the tour needs to acknowledge its responsibility and penalize slow players.
8. The Rules of Golf
Some rounds require people to card a score; there is a competitive nature to the game. Others need not require this. The rules of golf are set up as such that we’re all playing in the final round of a major. I support bifurcation of the rules and for equipment. Competitive play requires certain rules to be adhered to. Recreational play should have a more clear and easy to implement framework which will help speed play and keep the game fun. The RCGA rules of golf, as written down, prohibit my wife from having fun playing the game. I’m not alone here, and suspect that if the game was more fun for my wife I would be able play much more golf…often with her. Courses could make Sunday afternoon’s Family Golf time, with a revised set of rules aimed to support fun and a fair pace of play.
9. Teach Pace of Play
@AverageGolfer stated it well when he mentioned new players should get lessons immediately to learn fundamentals and pace of play tips. True, hard to legislate mind you, but golf’s governing bodies could consider developing (or better marketing) any introductory lesson packages for new players so as to make their experience more enjoyable. Nothing more disheartening I would suspect than learning the game, being slow, and feeling the pressure of holding others up.
10. Have Fun
At the heart of it all, we need to understand it’s a game. A game we love. There are times when we could be a culprit for slower play, these things happen. We can accept it and have fun or allow it to ruin our game. The steps above are meant to support a culture change and that takes time. Until then, let’s be respectful and mindful, but tolerant and enjoy this great game.