Slow Play: Why It Can't Be Fixed
By mjaber on 6/21/13
EDITOR'S NOTE: With slow play a hot topic, reader/follower/fellow 'oober' Mike Jaber has written a guest column offering a different perspective on the problem.


You can call me a pessimist if you want, but I don't believe that the issue of slow play will ever change. In fact, I think it's going to get worse. It's not because most golfers don’t want it to, but because there are some that don't. They just don't care, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. It's not about carts versus walking, or about wedge grooves, or the length of the rough, the width of the fairways, or pin placement. It's about the lack of common courtesy, and the self-centered world we live in.

The group that is holding up the course isn't worried about how long you've been waiting, or the fact that they are two holes behind the group in front of them. They don't care. They paid their money to play, and that's what they are going to do. They don't care that you had plans for dinner after your round, and that because you are stuck behind them you won’t be able to eat with your wife and daughter, even though you teed off a 10:30 a.m. They don't care that you are going to be lucky to get home in time to tuck your daughter in to bed before you take a shower.

This may be part of the reason I like playing as a single so much. I do care. I want to enjoy my round, but I don’t want to hold anyone else up. I know I'm busy, and I assume everyone else is as well. I do my best to stay right where I'm supposed to be, but not pushing the group ahead of me, unless they are out of position. It’s a fine line, but I try to manage it.

The only way slow play can be fixed is for the courses to set rules, and enforce them. Get the rangers out there and push these guys along. Use the "three-strike" rule, like one of my favorite courses:

  1. Strike one: "You guys are out of position. Please speed it up a little."

  2. Strike two: "You guys are out of position. Please pick up your ball and move into position."

  3. Strike three: "You guys are out of position. Please pick up your ball and enjoy a refreshment in our clubhouse. Your round is done."

The USGA has their little PSAs about slow play — and they're cute. A couple are even a little funny. They won't fix anything. They have their "Tee It Forward" initiative, but it's not going to help. Alternate rules have been proposed, and these won't do anything either.

The USGA wants us to unite and send a message to the golf industry. Well, aren't they part of the golf industry? Aren't they the ones that make the rules we all have to follow? Aren't they the ones that decide what clubs and balls we can and can't use?

A letter in response to the USGA's "While We're Young" campaign was published here, as well. That letter further strengthens my position that things are only going to get worse for pace of play. The author of that letter had no "new" ideas to combat pace of play. His only point was to say "it's not our fault." Well, I think it is — not because the course is too hard, or too long, or because they can't use a belly putter anymore, but because there is no oversight of the golfers.

I don't hold the USGA blameless, though. I think if they want to combat slow play, they need to include, with their course/slope ratings, a time rating. This will set a standard for how long it should take to play a particular course. I have started to see scorecards with times listed on them, not only overall, but per hole. The USGA needs to apply this concept to every course they rate.

The courses need to enforce these times, and they are going to need to set their tee times accordingly. If the 1st hole is going to take 12 minutes to play, you can't send a foursome out every 5 minutes.

They will also need more rangers — I think at least four during busy days: One at the start of each nine, and one roaming each nine. Empower the grounds crew as well — if they are out there, let them know that if they see a group out of position, they can let the group know, or at the very least, radio back to one of the rangers.

Lastly, we, as golfers who value our time (and that of others) need to speak with our wallets. I've got two courses that I know value pace of play. I'll try others, but if I end up with a 5-hour-plus round and never see a ranger, or the ranger I do see doesn't do anything, I'll speak with the clubhouse. If I don't get a response I like, I won't go back. I would rather pay more to play somewhere else. I won't play a course that doesn't think my time is valuable.

The last thing we need to do, not as golfers, but as people, is to look around. Pay attention to what is going on, and teach our kids, friends and family to do the same. Look out for the "other guy," not just yourself. Be concerned with other people's time as much as your own. Change has to start somewhere, why not have it start with you?

Sorry, I got a little preachy at the end. I'm going to hop off my soapbox now.


This was written by Mike Jaber, a reader/follower/fellow oober; the opinions are 100% his and do not necessarily reflect those of oobgolf in any way. Enjoy! We are sure that he's ready for your feedback.

Have an idea for a guest column? Send it here!


Photograph by Torleif Sorenson


[ comments ]
Torleif Sorenson says:
I have to agree with Mike about the lack of rangers which, in most cases, is a result of the economic recession and a need to eliminate what some managers feel are "unnecessary" human resource costs. And when some golfers don't see course rangers on patrol, they don't think about minding their own pace. Out of sight, out of mind.

I also agree with you that Munsch offered no counterpoint about time-rating. While I am seeing increasing numbers of courses that include the time-allotment for playing a hole on their scorecards. Munsch would have done better to show a concrete example of how Eagle Golf are working to combat the problem, rather than just blasting back toward Nager.
6/21/13
 
Jattruia says:
Couldn't agree more. Lack of common courtesy is the root of all of this.
6/21/13
 
srogers13 says:
I got one USGA rule that could be changed to speed up play, eliminate stroke and distance for OB, and make it a lateral hazard.
6/21/13
 
mantajim says:
@srogers13; Amen to that!
6/21/13
 
joe jones says:
Mike's three rules are on point. I was a ranger in Las Vegas for 4 years and we had one of the strongest programs in the country, We had one additional rule that we could enforce. If a player or group got overly beligerent we could call Metro Police and have them taken off the course. Vegas being what it is we had a large number of outside groups and a very good beverage program. It was not uncommon for us to have people that over indulged. Much of our revenue was derived from beverage sales so we could not eliminate it. This program was based upon exchange of services rendered. Free golf for the rangers for hours worked. It worked well until the IRS stepped in and made the hours taxable. We received 1099s and that killed the program.Torleif is correct. Most ranger programs are being eliminated or greatly reduced because it is considered an expensive and unnecessary expense that cannot be passed on to the customer.
6/21/13
 
golfingbumunderpar64 says:
Hit into them . They will end up letting you through. One of the reasons I like playing at the country club early is no waiting.
6/21/13
 
jeffcroupier says:
A month or so ago I was in a foursome with one guy I play with all the time, and two friends of his I had not met before. We were a foursome, walking, and there were other foursomes out walking in front of us, we teed off around 7:30am.

Anyway we start falling behind the group in front after 6 or 7 holes. I felt we were going a little slow. Purely looking at a clock, we were still on pace for maybe a 4h 20m round. A ranger came by and told us we were a hole behind. I said "OK" and planned on trying to get the guys to pick things up a little.

After the ranger leaves one of the guys in my group *flips out*... what the f***, that f***er, our pace is fine, f*** him, etc etc etc. I was like "well, they are foursomes in front of us and we are falling behind"... and he didn't want to hear it.

Of course we leaked more and more behind as the day went on (no more ranger) and finished in 4:40, which I considered unacceptable for that course.
6/21/13
 
mmontisano says:
Really? Hitting into them goes against everything that was just stated in the article about common courtesy.

I was always taught, "play well, or play fast." do one of those. If you can do both, awesome.
6/21/13
 
ybrownson says:
well said! I really like your 2nd to last paragraph. It's a valuable attitude young golfer or any young person should employ!
6/21/13
 
ToddRobb says:
I feel the need to chime in with an unpopular opinion. First off for anyone including the USGA to think that slow play is ever going to go away is utterly unrealistic. The USGA is so hypocritical it makes me sick, they don't want to have two sets of rules, which means the average weekend golf is expected to play the same rules as guys making a living, which is equivalent to playing a pickup basketball game at the YMCA and playing with a 24 second clock and shooting foul shots. The rules dictate that a high handicapper who is more likely to hit a poor shot than a good shot, should look for their ball for 5 minutes and than go back to the tee or the spot where they hit from to hit another one IF they haven't already taken more time to hit one before they left. But then they are suppose to "pick up" their ball if they get to eight or nine on the hole. Where is that in the rules??? Either you play by the rules or you don't. The only thing that will increase the pace of play is to change the rules.
6/21/13
 
Werepuppie says:
In my experience,almost nobody plays stroke and distance.Those that do usually hit a provisional.
Slow play is usually the result of foursomes or fivesomes on the course who have a wager on the game.The eyeball every putt from 4 angles even though they have never made a 20ft putt in their lives.Then they take 6 practice swings before they duff the shot.
6/21/13
 
ToddRobb says:
Granted most high handicap golfers break the rules all day because they don't know the rules, the USGA can't have it both ways. They try on one end to "preserve the integrity of the game" by holding on to the rules that are in some cases extremely outdated, but then try to "grow the game" by speeding up play by blaming it on the players. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of cases of guys like the examples in their commercials, but they are no means the standard.
6/21/13
 
ToddRobb says:
@Werepuppiev If you are playing at a public course that allows fivesomes, you need to find a different course.
6/21/13
 
Werepuppie says:
Actually slow play rarely bothers me.I play on weekdays,after 1pm to avoid the crowds and pay less.Also I set aside 5hrs of the day for golf.
It seems that most of the posters here are very,very,busy people.They do not seem to have enough time for golf,and therefore are pushing to get rounds in in under 4hrs.
6/22/13
 
onedollarwed says:
I'm not sure who's talking here - who you are. While slow play will not go away (the perfect ranger program simply mitigates it), overall attitudes can shift. The truth is, as many of you mentioned, indulgent, self-absorbed play is what golf is about for people.
The image is of a lone raft adrift in choppy seas - brave mariners staving off the treachery of the snapping and undulating evil green carpet and its vicious vegetative counterparts. The reality is that golf is like train cars, or a line at the DMV (much less exciting). For at least 9 holes we escape into our mini vacation, perfect, eh?
6/22/13
 
onedollarwed says:
The good news is that probably half of golfers out there play at an acceptable pace for that portion of players. The other two quartiles are split between the kinetically-belligerent, and the velo-obsessed. I would take a little pokey play over that complete ashwipe who turns every round into a megalo-monologal tantrum against anyone who takes even a practice swing. These infantile pissmouths should not be on a golf course. They spend the whole round calling the proshop and whining. If the offending ball-searcher is not removed, they keep calling. These guys never look for their lost balls - because of the perma-mulligan rule ("speeds up play!") The childish tantrum lasts all day; and why? Because they suck and butchered some simple shot after waiting a few minutes. It wasn't because of the wait! It was because you suck!!!
6/22/13
 
clevelandstever says:
Ready golf, ready golf, ready golf. I am not a good golfer by any stretch, and the guys I play with are mostly similar handicaps, but we can pound through a round about 4 hours, because we all go to our ball, once the guy away hits, the next goes, etc. I can't tell how many times I watch an entire foursome go to one guy's ball, watch him take his practice swings, hit, and then they all go to the next guy's etc. It is infuriating. I say it every time, but it is golf carts. Guys ride together in a cart, they end up attached at the hip. If it is not 90 degree or cart path, park the thing midway between your two shots, and each go out to them and hit them!!! Golf is supposedly an athletic activity, so you can do a little walking.
6/22/13
 
onedollarwed says:
Getting lost will always be an essential part of golf, however small. Good courses simultaneously enhance the experience of isolation and camaraderie. Alone with our thoughts and predicaments, we emerging together at the end, triumphantly or humbly, having learned a vital lesson, proved a theorem, or brazenly ignored the stop signs. Humility and honesty are what golf has to offer us - a fair non-political judgement (where else would we ever get that?). There is no pace to this! It is timeless, only sequential - an unbroken chain of toil and triumph with the requisite settling up at the finish line.
6/22/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
I agree. This is the same principle as the 6 sigma manufacturing concept. You find the bottle neck and improve that process.

Most golfers aren't inherently slow (although all of us could speed up to some extent). But the blatantly slow ones need to be adjusted (or removed).

Also my 1st golf lesson I ever was taught by my dad was "son you have 2 options...play good or play fast...and you aren't good now" I've come to realize unless I can consistently beat 2001 Tiger Woods then I'm not good enough to play slow.
6/22/13
 
CeeBee says:
Egos boys,egos. Nobody will move up a tee no matter his handicap. Senior tees? No way. Todd mentions the rules. Hell, the pros call an official for anything.
Rangers? Where? Throw in league play or any match involving a wager and watch the grass grow between shots.
6/22/13
 
onedollarwed says:
Tantrum guy and Sucky-ten-practice-Swing Guy both need to learn to play properly. For their behavior hurts them and others too. All I say is "hit it straighter." This speeds up play for fast and slow players, beginners or experts alike!
6/22/13
 
onedollarwed says:
Get lost, have fun, keep up!
6/22/13
 
Werepuppie says:
Play it forward would go a long way to helping this problem.However as CeeBee points out,few will do it.IMHO if you cannot break 100 from a given tee you need to move up to a tee that gives you a chance at doing it.
6/22/13
 
ToddRobb says:
For the record, I don't think slow play is a problem. I play three of four times a week and rarely take more than four hours and thirty minutes. I have NEVER been accused of being a slow player, sometimes the round may take longer for various reasons, but I can actually say that I don't care. I cannot recall ever having the thought of giving up the game because it takes to long. Quite frankly, if you can't devote 5 hours to a round of golf, either consider playing nine holes or don't play. Really,,,? four hours and fifteen minutes is okay but a half an hour or so more merits a media campaign to stop it???
6/22/13
 
sjduffers says:
@ToddRobb, where is your limit then? Or are you telling me that a 6.5 hour round is Ok with you too? I endured that twice in the last couple of months and trust me the only thing on my mind was getting the f*k out of there, not what the next hole looks like and what my strategy should be or rehearsing my swing or reading my putt...

While I agree that 4.5 hours is tolerable, 4 hours is better and the difference is just a few little things, which amount to just one theme: be aware and keep moving. It's a sad thing that in this society, both on and off the golf course, we are becoming so engrossed with ourselves that we hardly see anything else. The awareness level at large is plummeting: we are turning into zombies! :)
6/22/13
 
legitimatebeef says:
Wow hot topic! Nice going Mjab. Lots of wacky opinions in here. I don't really have much to add except that I disagree that it can't be fixed. On an individual level, I think courses can squash slow play if they so choose. It really depends on the place. Some courses make you tuck in your shirt, or worse. If they can do that kind of thing, then they can make you play within a certain time limit no problem. It's pretty much all a managerial decision, I think. But I think in today's world that kind of thing is increasingly seen as too traditionalist and buzzkill.
6/22/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
tee it forward should help. Good example I played with 2 guys today that were going to play the blues 6800 yards 74/134 of a course they've never played. I said before hole 1 that I've never played here and am going to play the whites (6400 yards 72/126). After that they just decided to play the whites as well.

I shot 88 and probably would have beat their best ball score by 5 shots. They shouldn't have even been thinking about playing the blues.

But they did tell me that they played much better yesterday. lol
6/22/13
 
ToddRobb says:
@sjduffers At 6.5 hours that's around 21 minutes per hole which is insane!! Something is terribly wrong at the course you are playing if that has happened more than once EVER, let alone twice in the last couple of months. That kind of time isn't even normal for an outing with all beginners. To answer your question, I have been playing for over 28 years and can't remember ever playing a round in more than 5 hours, which is my limit(other than an outing). My question to you is how could you even go back to a course where a 6.5 hour round is even possible???
6/22/13
 
golfingbumunderpar64 says:
Jason, your dad was a smart man. The problem is most people aren't good and most people aren't fast. When I was playing the the state am we were playing 3somes. At one point on the second day we were 2 holes behind. ( all players were 6 hcp and under ) one of the guys in my group did the keagen Bradley move. Stand behind the ball and walk to and from until comfortable. We started playing ready golf to catch back up.
One of the problems I see when playing public course is that players play like its usga tournaments. I understand there are rules to this game but when your a 25 hcp and are putting for an 8 on a par 3 after knocking 2 OB pick up and go to the next hole. I don't think while learning this game you play by EVERY rule. I've been playing for 17 years and roll the ball in the fairway during casual play. I also take gimmies. If that's cheating in someone's eyes they are obviously ok with a 5 hour rd.
6/22/13
 
sjduffers says:
@ToddRob, I am sorry I was not clear enough: this was at two different venues in the last 2 months. My club is an associate club, meaning we have no actual home course and play all over the area. The excuse of the first course where this happened was that there were 2 tournaments earlier in the day, ahead of ours (we are talking 5-8 foursomes per tournament), and that one group had left 45 minutes open ahead of them. That still does not account for the 2 extra hours in total, but I was floored that the course management did nothing to move them up, tournament or not. Anyway, we won't be back there next year, even though it's a nice, challenging track. I am not sure what happened at the second place, but it's gotta be a similar story.
6/23/13
 
SpaceMaNy0 says:
Take away carts. All the fatasses will be so winded after 9 that the back will be deserted.
6/23/13
 
falcon50driver says:
I agree with the assessment that there seems to be more inconsiderate people around everywhere. I picked up 6 beer bottles yesterday while playing. They don't sell bottled beer at the clubhouse, so it was obviously sneaked in, and then just deposited wherever they happened to finish them, middle of the fairway, or wherever. I'm trying to picture in my mind what kind of lowlife would do such a thing. Probably drives a car all dented up with the muffler hanging off.
6/23/13
 
mygs29 says:
I find the main problem is most people don't play ready golf, but I also think the rules of golf are ridiculous. If you think I'm gonna go back to the tee after a lost ball on a busy day you're insane. There should be a strict set of rules for tournament play and regular play. I think that would make a world of difference. But I think in the end it comes down to being ready to play your ball when it is your turn.

If I'm playing by myself I can walk a course in less than 2.5 hours. No reason a foursome can't make it in 4.
6/23/13
 
ToddRobb says:
I have a question for anyone that would like to respond: If it was clearly understood that a round of golf takes five hours, would it matter? Or is it that we know it SHOULDN'T take 5 hours is what causes the problem and frustration? As golf became more popular and more crowded at the courses, it was inevitable that play would slow down. You cannot have growth in the game without beginners, that being the case slow play will always exist unless the rules are changed for amateurs. There could be a 'time is of the essence" rule that states you must pick up your ball once you double par on a hole. They could even have the rules adjust for handicap levels, so they would maintain "the integrity of the game". If there are two sets of rules it would be much easier for other golfers to police each other. I know I wouldn't have a problem telling a guy that he doubled par "you gotta pick it up". Just think if the USGA added that rule and started a campaign of "You gotta pick it up" instead of "while we're young".
6/23/13
 
sjduffers says:
It's not the number of strokes taken that is the problem, although I agree that the higher number does not help much. The real problem is the time wasted between strokes, not being by the ball, with a club in hand and a vague idea of what to do with it, standing there doing... nothing. And then, rinse and repeat, ad nauseam.

As for your question ToddRob, yes it would still bother me even if it was posted that a round is expected to take 5 hours, because I lose my focus and tend to get more tired after that long on my feet (I walk a lot), not to mention that 6 hours would then be routine! :)
6/23/13
 
ToddRobb says:
The number of strokes is ground zero of the problem, if they "pick it up" there won't be another stroke to have wasted time between. How do you tell a guy his pre-shot routine is too long, or he doesn't have his clubs in hand, or he's not by his ball in time without it being in the rules? If you put a limit on the strokes it can be very easily enforced by any and everyone including the golfer himself. That's why this issue will never go away, there are so many different opinions of what the cause is that nothing will change unless they change the rules, which they won't do.
6/23/13
 
falcon50driver says:
I say give every group a timer set to go off in 4 hours. You must leave the course when the alarm goes off no matter where you are.
6/23/13
 
jeffcroupier says:
@falcon50driver just add an explosive device to the timer and that would make a hell of a sci-fi movie
6/23/13
 
mmontisano says:
unless theyre getting some of their monwy back, if you make them pick up you're cheating them out of completing a full round of golf and then they'll never come back to your course again to play. maybe their goal that day was to break 110, but they wont be able to because they had to pick up. if you want to grow the game, that is not the way to do it.

tournament rules vs casual rules + ready golf is the best way. the people that have been playing the game for a long time need to be stewards of the game and lead by example and show people that golf doesn't have to take 6+ hours. setting examples in the PGA tour would be the best place to start.
6/23/13
 
ToddRobb says:
@badcaddy So you don't have problem with a guy scrambling to save a 12 on a par five because if you tell him to pick up his ball at 10 he's not completing his round? If you don't think it's a good idea to max out the strokes for beginners, what would be one of rule changes for the "casual rules" that you mentioned?
6/23/13
 
mmontisano says:
if they get that 12 within 10 to 15 minutes, sure, why not? and stroke and distance for one rule to toss. casual rules with easier course set ups would do wonders in regards to how long it takes to play a round of golf.
6/23/13
 
ToddRobb says:
if one guy in the group is taking a 12 on a par five there's high probability that group is going to take longer than 15 minutes on that hole and several others. And there's your 5 hour round.
6/23/13
 
Werepuppie says:
Lets have them put video games at each tee so the wait is less aggravating:)
6/23/13
 
mmontisano says:
werepubbie, that's the best idea to combat this i've ever heard. PSPs for everyone!
6/23/13
 
mmontisano says:
wow...sorry about that. "werepuppie"
6/23/13
 
mmontisano says:
seriously, i didn't mean that.
6/23/13
 
blackhawk says:
I believe Todd Robb has a point. Beginners don't want to shoot a 150 so they feel they finished the course. There are a few casual rules you can adopt for beginners.
1 Forget stroke and distance for OBs - Lateral hazard
2 All water - Lateral hazard
3 Max 2 attempts out of each bunker, Play the next shot from just outside it
4 Max 2 shots thru the green. Pick up ball and putt from closest edge of green.
5 Max 4 putts on green.
These rules would help move things along without cheating the player out of finishing the hole.
6/23/13
 
ATEglauer says:
The guy making 12 isn't necessarily the problem if he doesn't take forever to play the shots. The guys on the PGA sometimes take 5 hours (or more) and they are only shooting 75 or 80 (at most, usually, less) to play those rounds. I've made more than my share of 12s!

While I don't believe there will be vast improvements in the pace, the best way to improve it is to play "ready golf". I know when I play, if someone is on opposite sides of the fairway, I have no problem playing at the time he does nor with him playing at the same time I do. I also think that players should putt out once they start putting (unless you've completely misread the putt, then another player can putt until he's done) - i.e., mark ball only once, if necessary.

Unless all four players are shooting in the 80s or better, I think a 4 hour round is pretty ambitious without being solely focused on the pace and not on your game. 4.5 hours is pretty doable, though, for all but the beginners of the game.
6/23/13
 
ATEglauer says:
Players also need to walk quickly between shots, not doddle, especially after poor shots! I believe carts are only useful for between greens and tees (when large distances are there) or only on the steepest of courses). Usually, the carts are a nuisance to keep the pace moving, unless you are an advanced golfer (single-digit handicap).
6/23/13
 
ToddRobb says:
@ATEglauer Everyone knows what will speed up the game, the problem is enforcement. How do you enforce ready golf? The guys on tour take 5 hours because they are trying to make a living, every shot can translate into dollars, one stroke can mean missing the cut, or in some cases one stroke can mean a couple thousand dollars. That is the very reason why there needs to be two sets of rules.

@blackhawk I like 1 and 2.
6/24/13
 
ToddRobb says:
I know I keep harping about the rules, this thread is actually re-enforcing my belief of it being a rule problem. Everyone has mentioned what causes slow play, the problem is at the end of the day it is left up to the people that are playing on the course. Without a rule change the USGA can only "ask" us to speed up. If you have a few guys in different groups on the course that don't watch television, that haven't seen their cute "while we're young" campaign, or they simply don't care to play ready golf, there is nothing that you can do about it except hope that the ranger gets them to speed up. Who would have a problem if the USGA changed the rules to speed up play?? I don't think anyone would have a problem with it, but they chose to try to go the easy route by going to the source, instead of taking control and changing the rules.
6/24/13
 
mjaber says:
@ToddRobb... In answer to your question, if the course has clearly stated that a round of golf should take 'X' number of hours, I'm OK with that, provided they are enforcing it. That's why I keep going back to 1 course, even though it's about $20 more than a course closer to my house. I know the round is going to be, at most, 4.5 hours. Incidentally, they are the course with the 3 strike rule, and they have multiple rangers patrolling the course on weekends.
6/24/13
 
slimpks1850 says:
Wow, 52 comments... haven't read 'em yet but I will.

This is my third year golfing & only the last 2 years have I been playing roughly once a week (or at least trying to). Yesterday was the first time I had a golf course employee ask, unsolicited, if the pace of play was acceptable. These aren't the ritsy or posh courses but alot of the problem is the course doesn't care so the players don't either. I nearly shit myself when the guy politely asked. I pointed it out to my buddy & laughed. 3 years it took!
6/24/13
 
birdieXris says:
I called in a group in front of us this weekend at the tournament. It was terribly slow. We were waiting every shot since the 2nd hole. 10 minutes each time and when we finally got to 8 and the group ahead of them was 2 holes ahead i called in. Know what the assistant pro says? "this hole slows everyone down". Really? Slows them down 2 holes? The only people that care about slow play are the people who don't play slowly. it's crazy, and i'm with the author - it'll never be fixed.
6/24/13
 
mjaber says:
One other thought with the 3 strike rule. Oddds are, if you are asked to leave because you have failed to maintain the pace, you won't return to that course. The course, in truth, shouldn't be concerned. By losing that 1 group, they have made sure that everyone behind them enjoyed their round, and will return. The opposite effect is much more damaging. If you bow to the "slow" group and allow them to finish their round, backing up the entire course in the process... how many groups of golfers have you lost?
6/24/13
 
Werepuppie says:
Why does it seem to me that all you guys are standing there looking at your watch instead of focusing on the game?
Let me ask this:When you decide to play a round of golf,are you always squeezing it in to a four hour time slot in your life?
Everyone needs to lighten up.Slow groups should just let others play thru.
6/24/13
 
Scott Shields says:
Cheap golf = slow golf.
Later in the day = slower the round.

You want to play sub 4 hour rounds, tee off at 7am. You want to play fast, but can't tee off early, play at a course with green fees over $50.

People want to grow the game - but get mad when slow bad golfers play. Can't have it both ways - just learn the slow courses, and avoid the slow times.
6/24/13
 
birdieXris says:
@werepuppy - With a few exceptions I don't think it's watching the clock as much as an internal concept of time and waiting on every hole. I don't look at the clock at all after the putting green to make my tee time, unless i'm constantly waiting on each tee and there's a group backed up behind me. I call it "sandwich time". Generally i think everyone doesn't really mind taking their time on a hole and playing well, but there's a point that it needs to stop and that's what most people are upset by. I agree with your thoughts on trying to squeeze something into 4 hours. I don't understand why anyone would do that. Leave at least 6 hours for travel and beers.
6/24/13
 
birdieXris says:
@ scott - i think what the author is saying is not that slow/bad golfers shouldn't play, but more that they should be courteous to others on the course. I know plenty of bad golfers that are still fast golfers. Bad =/= slow.
6/24/13
 
jrbizzle says:
To me, the problem and solution are obvious. Plain and simple - the reluctance, or ultimate dismissal of letting others play through. When you see you are holding up play, you have two decisions - let them play through or not. This weekend, four of us played two "competitive matches" on back to back days. We let two groups play through the first day and one on the second day. Since we were playing with something on the line, we were searching longer for lost balls, measuring putts a little longer, etc. But because of this, we kept an eye behind us and let folks play through when necessary. Didn't bother us one bit.

Too many people don't do this. Some figure they can just speed up the next hole and open the gap back up. Which usually leads to rushed shots, and therefore bad results, which just makes things worse. Some people just don't care...I've observed them time and again. That's the issue.
6/24/13
 
jrbizzle says:
And with a lack of rangers, the burden is then put on a person like me to either deal with it, or result to skipping a hole or having to "force" my way through the group by asking/begging them to let me through. It should never come to that - it should always be offered, not asked for.
6/24/13
 
jrbizzle says:
For the record, the first day (when we let two play through) we played the front nine in 2:30 (let two groups go through), played the back in 2:00 because we switched to a scramble format.

The second day we played an almost 5 hour round, but the course was mostly empty and we stopped for drinks at the turn and let the guys behind us play through on 10. If there was on piece of advice I could offer - it's just that - either speed up and concede the lost balls, or let the people play through. You have every right to play a 5+ hour round if you pay the fare, but you don't have the right to force that 5 hour round on others.
6/24/13
 
Scott Shields says:
whats sad too - is the NOBODY thinks they're a slow golfer. I think the "while we're young" ads are too light hearted, I think they really need to show examples of slow players. Not tounge in cheek.
6/24/13
 
tartantoml says:
I think you have the ranger's cell phone number printed on the scorecard with instructions to call if the group in front of you is falling behind. This could keep someone from "hitting into" the slow group. Maybe the beverage cart could also carefully inform the slow group how far behind they are.
6/24/13
 
ppinkert says:
This whole issue of Slow play is one of the reasons I've all but stopped playing golf. I am one of those high handiecappers nobody wants on the course anyway. I have always hated feeling like I am in the way. So after I played a Scramble with a friend as I promised I've not picked up a club since. Very Good chance I never will again. Good luck getting this solved, at least there's one more hacker out of your way.
6/24/13
 
BME_Badger says:
@tartantoml - maybe have a text program like stadiums do for rude fans.

Ready golf is a big part of it, but so is disparity in skill.

On my own I'll play 9 in 1:15 at the local track, but I've been a part of some pretty slow rounds too.

If I don't know who I'm paired with, there's no way I'm stepping ahead of their line to get to my ball so I can hit when they're done. I can't trust that they're not going to hit a rocket right at me.

Carts are evil, I wish every person who wanted a cart was offered a free pull cart instead.

Courses could help too with more well defined yardages. If there's a hazard crossing the fairway ahead of the teeing area put a marker telling the yardage to the hazard and yardage to clear. Also, have more (or some) yardage markers in the fairways. And while you're at it, cut the rough a bit shorter. I need to be penalized for missing the fairway, but don't make it a guessing game as to where my ball disappeared to.
6/24/13
 
sjduffers says:
If anyone thinks that a rule change is going to speed up the game, they are sorely mistaken. Most golfers I see on munis where the slowness is fairly typical already don't play by the rules: nobody (including me) ever walks back to the tee: some hit a provisional (including me) but failing that just drop nearby, usually after too long a search, thus breaking 2 rules in the process. Nobody drops behind water hazards when the ball entered it way back there. They drop it near where it ended up. Requiring 2 shots tee-to-green does not make any sense: as many as par, perhaps...

Again, usually (there are exceptions such as slow tournaments) the main culprit is not the rules or the number of strokes, but the complete lack of attention to one's surrounding and not being ready when it's one's turn. And not being aware of that is why slow golfer are not aware that they are slow.

Besides, some people do *everything* slowly, so much so that it's wonder they can survive at all in this fast-paced world! :)
6/24/13
 
ToddRobb says:
@sjduffers Your whole first paragraph sounds like an exact argument why the rules need to be changed. Why do you think the golfers you see on your muni do not play by the rules? It's because the rules slow the round down even more IF they even took the time to understand them. That is exactly why there needs to be "tournament" rules and "casual" rules. At the beginning of any round better players can state that they are playing "tournament" rules, the beginners and high handicappers can play "casual" rules which would be designed to speed up play. The reason for the rule change would be so the golfer that is playing with the slow golfer would legitimately have reason to tell a guy to "pick it up". I'm on record for saying that I don't think slow play is a problem, and that it will never be fixed, this all just for conversation.
6/24/13
 
bphillips422 says:
The group I play with have the following casual rules in an effort to keep pace of play and allow all hcaps to enjoy the game. Hit a provisional if it's possible that you're OB off the tee. Drop line of sight on a lost ball. Max score double par + 1. Gimmies are allowed after you've exceeded par.
6/24/13
 
jeffcroupier says:
I don't know that we need "more rangers" as much as we just need the one or two out there to be assertive. A lot of the commenting here seems to imply that the courses are loaded up with armies of players with no regard for pace, but as I think most of us can attest, it's usually *one or two* groups out there messing things up. One slow group destroys the pace of the next 80 players, but the management of these courses seems more concerned with not upsetting the one group by speeding them up.
6/24/13
 
rehmwa says:
One comment. the course is as slow as it's slowest hole.

"If the 1st hole is going to take 12 minutes to play, you can't send a foursome out every 5 minutes."

You know what? If the 14th hole takes 15 minutes to play, you also can't send a foursome out every 12 minutes.
6/24/13
 
Kickntrue says:
I've noticed golf in the south is faster than golf in the north. The big difference- ROUGH, and the golf course is directly responsible for that. People don't look for 5 minutes for a ball they blasted into the woods. They spend 5 minutes looking when they hit the ball just off the fairway- or somewhere they think they should find their ball and can't. This is harder in the north because of the kinds of grass, and it does take more work (and $) to keep it consistently short, but to me- it's the absolute number one reason golf is slow.

Well- that and sending groups out 9 minutes apart. But that's the course's fault, too.
6/24/13
 
sjduffers says:
@ToddRob, I am sorry to pick on you, as I am not trying to, but what makes you think that said "golfers" would follow your hypothetical amended rules, when there is no evidence that they are aware of any rule (or deference) to follow? Answer: they wouldn't and you'd have no more standing to tell them to pick up then than you do now. Even when following the current rules, it's quite acceptable to post an X- score for a hole when one picks up, particularly after more strokes than ESC would allow... Not in a tournament, where you'd be DQ'd for not holing out, but it is fine in regular play, according to the USGA: www.usga.org/handicapping/publications/Adjusting
6/24/13
 
sjduffers says:
@rehmwa, "the course is as slow as it's slowest hole." is not true. If the 15th hole takes 5 minutes to play, the combination of 14 and 15 only takes 20 minutes to play, so it is perfectly acceptable to send groups every 10 minutes in that case. Things can occasionally bunch up (on par 3 in particular as players have to wait for additional shots for the group ahead to be out of range), but on average, things will smooth out, just like traffic slows down and speeds up around more difficult stretches. The course is as slow as its slowest group as there is (typically) no passing lane. The course is not as slow as its slowest hole.

As for the first hole taking 12 minutes to play, it too does not prevent (in itself) sending groups every 5 minutes. You can have at least 2 groups on that hole at one point and sometimes 3: hole #1 is usually a par 5 just for that reason. ;)
6/24/13
 
Duke of Hazards says:
It's obvious that there is a broad range of opinions among golfers on what is 'fast/medium/slow' when it comes to completing a round of golf.

I also know for fact that what may feel painfully slow when playing by myself or with one other person is often perfectly acceptable when playing in a foursome, the reason being that I'm engaged, interested and physically proximate to the shots of my playing companions (even in random groupings) vs. the a-holes 200 yds down the fairway. That's largely the reason that in the few occasions I get sent out as a single, I inevitably end up being assimilated by another group once I get sandwiched.
6/24/13
 
accarson3 says:
I play occasionally at a course that enforces the 3-strike rule as stated in the column. The starter states the policy to every group, whether members or guests..and they enforce it. However, at most courses where I play the starter never makes any mention of pace of play and the volunteer ranger (singular) tries his/her best but does not seem to have the authority to actually affect the pace of play. As mentioned above, I think most courses are afraid to rigorously enforce pace of play in fear of losing paying customers.
6/24/13
 
mmontisano says:
to kickntrue, all of the 6 hour rounds I've ever played where in Dallas. so while courses in the south do have easier setups, slow people will show up anywhere.

and there are so many commens on this thread now that no one is reading all of them and they're saying the same thing. I just feel bad for ppinkert up there. don't give up on the game. you don't have to shoot sub 90 rounds to have fun on the golf course. if you feel like you're holding some one up, just let them play through or find a playing partner that's just happy about being on a course and not at work.
6/24/13
 
Werepuppie says:
There are a few ways to help pace though.If you have a beginner with you,go to an exec or par 3.Two weeks ago I took out a friend who had never hit a golf ball before.We went to a short course.He had no practice shots as there was no range.We stepped up the first tee,which fortunately was a 108yd par 3 and off he went.With advise from me along the way,the round was fairly quick.
6/24/13
 
joe jones says:
When I was a ranger I watched a foursome of single digit mens club members take 9 minutes to putt out on a par three hole. They looked at the putt from all sides, checked the cut of the hole to see the slope and plum bobbed every putt. Not a one of them made the putt. After they walked off the green I put them on the clock. I had a stop watch to show them the proof.They were one full hole behind the group ahead and the course was backed up behind them. They caught up quickly within three holes. After the round two of them filed a complaint with the head pro They were called in and told if they were too good to keep up on the course they might find someplace else to play. Very harsh but they kept up after that.
6/24/13
 
ToddRobb says:
@sjduffers I play on a regular basis with single digit handicap golfers, we recently showed up with three at a course that has OB on the right side of number 12 to protect from hitting from the fairway of the previous hole, the fourth that was put with us (high handicapper) hit his ball OB, went to go hit it from OB, everyone in the group (almost at the same time) told him he was OB and he can't hit from there. He thanked us, picked up his ball and hit it from inside the OB markers. I told him he should have hit a provisional, and we had a nice discussion about the rules as we walked, which he seemed interested in. Judging from your statement, it sounds like you would have a problem with telling a fellow golfer that he is violation of a rule. This probably sounds arrogant but if you play with "good" golfers you will find that as the quality of play increases so does the awareness of the rules. Most of the golfers I play with would not think twice about calling someone out on a rules violation.
6/24/13
 
Werepuppie says:
ToddRobb if I called people out on rules violations nobody would play with me.In my experience most people I get paired with could not care less about the rules.Lift clean and place everywhere,foot wedge from behind trees,reteeing for 2nd shots in the fairway,mulligans whenever,etc.
6/24/13
 
ToddRobb says:
@sjduffers Also, just so you're aware, Equitable Stroke Control is in place to prevent sandbagging your handicap to enter an event at higher handicap. It only comes into play when entering your score into the handicap system, it has nothing to do with slow play. My handicap is 5.0 with the USGA, if I knew I was playing in a member guest tournament in a couple of weeks or so, without ESC I could inflate my scores on one hole leading up to the tournament to try to get handicap higher to get more strokes at the tournament.
6/24/13
 
ToddRobb says:
@Werepuppie I am clearly spoiled by playing with "good" golfers all the time. I guess it still come down to the level of play of the people you are playing with.
6/24/13
 
sjduffers says:
@ToddRob, we must be talking at cross-purposes here. I have no problem talking with players I am paired with, good players or not, about rules or rules violation. I do agree with you that better players are more rule-aware. What I am talking about is the group ahead that I can see is not doing the right thing, yet still takes plenty more time than necessary. Don't blame the rules, blame the (unconscious and therefore slow) golfers!

I don't need a lecture about ESC, I know full well what it's for. But the link I submitted gave an example of an X-score as acceptable for handicap posting purposes and I added even more so when the score is greater than ESC as it would have to be lowered using ESC anyway. In other words, picking up when a hole is past the ESC score does not change the score (for posting purposes). If that is good enough for the USGA in stipulated rounds, it surely can be used in a casual round as well, can't it?
6/24/13
 
sjduffers says:
Yes, you are spoiled by playing with good golfers who play by the rules and are aware of their surroundings, and probably on some upscale courses.

Personally, I have witnessed plenty of irrational behaviors by the groups ahead of me (and sometimes within the group I happen to get paired with) that make you go: huh, really? Rules, whatever they are, are not going to make one bit of difference on these people. Just be glad you don't see those "golfers" (and therefore don't think that there is a problem), but trust me, they are out there.
6/24/13
 
ToddRobb says:
@sjduffers lecture?? really?? my bad. Didn't mean to strike a nerve. Not quite sure why you would bring ESC into a conversation about slow play if you know what it's for, but okay. I just read your post that you posted to me again, you didn't mention anything about the group ahead, you mentioned "they wouldn't and you'd have no more standing to tell them to pick up then than you do now". I don't spend any energy on the course trying to figure out what the group ahead of me is doing, never have, never will. My home course is a public course, nice track, but far from upscale, the difference is that I haven't showed up as a single in quite some time. I am fortunate enough to play first thing in the morning with 2 or 3 of maybe 12 guys on any given day. I know that slow play exist, but I don't think it SHOULD be a problem. I guess I am unique, I appreciate being out there enough that 5 hours wouldn't be enough for me to consider it a "problem".
6/24/13
 
sjduffers says:
Fair enough. "lecture" was too stern a word, sorry. Peace. I envy you @ToddRob: you are lucky indeed! :)

I too think that slow play shouldn't be a problem but it is, when you lose your rhythm because you have to wait before nearly every shot through the green, something that is fairly typical in a 5 hours round. Yes, walking slower to my ball would mitigate that somewhat but then I don't feel energetic when it's my turn, and the group behind then would think that I am the problem. In fact, I think slow play is one of the worst thing/problem that routinely happens on a course...
6/24/13
 
Bertie_16 says:
A few observations I see that i think contribute to slow play; courses need to do a better job of marking distances in the fairway. Heck, I've even played courses with no distance on the tee box for par 3's. True, we are in an age where a lot of people now have devices, but not everyone does. So people are trying to guess yardages, hit the wrong club and end up butchering the hole which takes time. We're all a tad more accurate if we somewhat know the yardage and club. Also, people take forever to leave the green and the area surrounding the green. feel free to hang onto your club and put it back in your bag when you reach the next tee.
6/25/13
 
Kickntrue says:
@badcaddy- Dallas is not in the South... come on.
6/25/13
 
Aborys says:
How about introducing "player speed cards". You apply for and sign an agreement that you will keep up with the group in front and play ready golf. First group out agrees to play in 4.5 or less. Those players that agree and stick to these agreements can book a prime morning tee time. One slow group in the morning can back up a course for the whole day. They are like an accident on the motorway; everything keeps slowing down until you get a rolling backup.
6/26/13
 
onedollarwed says:
Well first: It seems there is concern for faster play based on all the comments here, yes? Here's what I see/hear from all written here:
1. Almost everyone here feels that slow play is a problem, yet barely anyone has detailed how they contribute to slow play - is it really always somebody else? That's the old "95% of motorists feel that they are in the top 20% of good drivers." paradox.
2. It may not be that actual time it takes to play a round (thanks TRobb) but waiting on every shot that drives people crazy. You think "how could I be waiting on every shot, what is that group up there doing?" Golf is best enjoyed at a regular pace, where there is only occasional waiting (par 3's : do courses still practice the wave up tee shot on par 3's?)
3. There is a saying: "Work expands to fit the time allotted." I guess this is true for recreation as well. In other words, if somebody wants to squeeze in a round in an allotted time, they want to play at that pace. The more time the slower the pace desired, sort of.
6/29/13
 
onedollarwed says:
Some people think that getting power carts can help them meet their deadline - that they can buzz through groups, often hitting into groups to prove it. Once a course was throwing in powercarts for free in the afternoon, but they had to be in by Sunset. I played 18 in two hours minutes to beat the clock. My point; most everyone is playing at a different pace, for different reasons.
4. It's WHEN YOU PLAY that makes the most difference (in general). I tell my wife: golf is my one vice. If I don't get to play. I will sneak it. I'll make up appointments and friends in order to play. So I can grab a round after work and get home just after dark - and it will only take 4 hrs, or I can play on the weekend, fighting the crowds and it will take 6 hrs (door to door). Weeknights it is!
6/29/13
 
onedollarwed says:
4. I basically see courses doing NOTHING to speed up play/encourage courteous/trouble free play. I heap great emphasis on the latter. Courses should be required to keep data - with help from the USGA - just like teachers, and receive a rating based on several indicators:
a) fights, lawsuits, assaults on the course grounds
b) data from USGA widgets (or phone) (bring this radio device to the starter where he/she programs your group in). This device tracks all of the groups and can alert a ranger (who can double with other duties) of a lapse in pace. The data will show both volume and pace data and can help the course keep track of earning potential as well. The data can be crunched to find slow spot on the course, chronically slow groups, and ideal pacing frequency during high volume times. The weather horn would pause data until play resumes. Course's data would be publicly accessible, and groups could get bonuses for courteous play.
6/29/13
 
onedollarwed says:
6. There is solid science to pacing issues - mostly in automobile traffic. a) if you build more lanes, more people will drive. Same traffic problem. People follow the speed of the car in front, rather than maintaining distance (train cars don't get into traffic jams because they're tied together. Hence the backward lag is expressed through traffic). Human behavior dictates classic slow downs: merges, tunnels, rubbernecking, etc. People get distracted.

Here is what happens on a golf course which is like traffic: a) people match the speed of the group in front - settling into the comfort of slow play to match. Yeah it's relaxing too. b) faster groups are rarely let through - thus any tie up is expressed backward to the first tee. c) groups can't always see the gaps in front (how far do I hit, are they far enough away?). d) groups aren't ready to speed up when they need to - hence the pace lag again.
6/29/13
 
onedollarwed says:
My plan:
Players:
1) Be realistic; and don't pretend that round is supposed to take a certain length of time. Everyone is on a different schedule.
2) If you are an OCD a-hole, don't play on weekends, holidays, or other high-volume times.
3) Know thyself. You probably can't speed up anyone else's play, but you can take care of yourself. Smokey the Pro says: "only you can promote courteous play."
4) match the distance of the group in front, not their pace.
Courses
1) Teach the game - nobody knows how to play anymore, or the rules/ etiquette. Every tee box could have a placard with a relevant rule/ point of etiquette.
2) promote etiquette - post this: "look behind you, If there is a faster group, let them play through at this point."
3) Gongs/ladders to let group know when to hit on blind shots. I have seen some of these and they work well. At about 250 from the whites players cross a white line, a group could raise a club to signify "fire at will."
6/29/13
 
onedollarwed says:
4) mark more lateral hazards - even where there should be OB. Perhaps add drop areas on holes where lost balls are common. Many course have environmentally sensitive areas where you're not supposed to tread - use that. Grow deep rough to catch errant drives and even add fences (stone walls look nicer), wadis, or berms if it would help.
USGA
1) Develop the tracking widget program.
2) Develop sensible recreational golf rules. After all, penalty strokes and the stymie rule had to change. I don't really think that golf should be played in a tunnel of lateral hazards, but the boundary of a hole could be defined by red or white boundaries (1 stroke penalty for red, 2 for white, no distance)
3) Distribute preset stone (cement) tee totems that course can post which explain the rules/ process of golf. "Hole 1: Teeing off: find appropriate tee markers, tee within 1 yard of markers, pick up broken tee, fill divot, etc. When waiting: stretch, discuss local rules, playing format, etc." Hole 2: "are you keeping up? Etc
6/29/13
 
[ post comment ]
 
    Cigar Lounge
    Guest
Most Popular:

Subscribe