It’s been a long time since my days in Northern California where a weekend round of golf was fast if it was played in less than five hours. Slow play defeats many golfers. It makes it difficult to maintain focus and tempo. It’s tiring when you spend more time in the sun waiting for the group in front to move along. Someone once asked rhetorically as we waited on a tee box, “Have you ever noticed you always hate the group in front of you?” Every bad shot becomes the fault of those who are holding you up. A pleasant day becomes drudgery.
To put tact aside for a moment, extremely slow play is inconsiderate, if not simply rude. In some cases, slow play comes from a lack of knowledge. In a few cases, I suspect the slow players are just attempting to satiate their need to be the center of attention. In other cases, some people seem to live in a constant state of oblivion. In her later years, my mother would walk into a grocery store, stop in the middle of the entrance blocking everyone’s way while she tried to remember why she’d come to the store in the first place. Her spirit lives on in a few golfers. If there are two or three holes open in front of your group, you’re standing in the grocery store doorway. Pick up the pace.
The trick is to play faster without hurrying. The little things like lining up your putt before it’s your turn, taking the appropriate clubs to the tee box when you go up to get a read on distance (rather than having to walk back to the cart to get them), leaving your towel, clubs, etc. on the back side of the green rather than where you have to walk back toward the fairway to retrieve them. Plumb-bobbing from three feet really does nothing other than make other golfers wonder if maybe you’re a club or two short of a full bag. If you can’t see that the putt breaks hard to the right from three feet, you’re probably going to miss it anyway. There are countless little things to reduce “cycle time”.
The USGA has a series of videos designed to help play move along faster. I encourage you to view them for their entertainment value. Hope springs eternal.
The Club and the Men’s Golf Association can take steps to improve the pace of play. It is certainly in the Club’s interest. With a better pace of play, more golfers can play in a given time period. This translates into income. With a reasonable pace of play, more players enjoy their golfing experience. A happier membership is far more inclined to return to the club, not to mention recommend it to others.
There has been some discussion that by establishing a set time for completing a round, all problems will be remedied. For example, proclaiming that a four and half hour pace is acceptable. Nothing could be farther from the truth, especially if it is the only criteria used to measure pace of play. “They’re on pace” is, in some cases, a realistic rationalization. However, in most cases, it is nothing short of nonsensical. A seven thousand yard course does not play the same as a six thousand yard course. A round where players are restricted to the cart paths does not have the same pace as a round where players may go directly to their balls. A round where each player has a separate cart will have a faster pace of play than a round where there are two players in every cart. A round where it’s raining like hell with forty degree temperatures will not be played at the same pace as a round under sunny skies and seventy-five degree temperatures.
A four and a half hour round is on the long end of acceptable in the worst of conditions (the USGA says anything over four hours is not acceptable). However, no one can put forth a cogent argument that it is acceptable under all or even a majority of conditions. When there are three open holes between one foursome and the next, it is an insult to the intelligence of the groups behind to suggest “They’re on pace.”
There are many things that can be done to mitigate the problem. But, before anything can be done, there first has to be recognition that a problem exists. If you agree or disagree, press the “Comments” button below and share your opinion.