Professional or Processional Golf?
By Tim Horan on 6/2/14
oober Tim Horan is an Englishman who considers here some of the effects of slow play on a golfer's game. As usual, we hope you find his thoughts as provoking as we do. Enjoy!
I am going to take this opportunity for a rant and hopefully pass on some pointers on what is a very hot topic at the moment. It seems that every golf magazine is full of readers' e-mails and letters condemning slow play, both in the amateur ranks and in the professional game.
Let us forget the pro game for the present — after all, we are not going to change it. Something must be done at that level, I agree, but we mortals cannot begin to comprehend the pressures these guys are under with tens of thousands of bucks riding on a single shot. How they prepare themselves against such pressures is bound to slow the thought processes and the game as a whole.
We can, however, speed up play in our own regular four-ball or golf society and hope to influence others at club level week in and week out, so that all of us can enjoy this wonderful game at a pace that is acceptable and pleasurable.
Impatient? Heck, yes! I cannot walk down the street without being frustrated by those walking slower than me, headphones on, or texting as they amble along, oblivious of my need to get somewhere — seemingly themselves with nowhere to be, people arriving at the barrier on the subway and then fumbling for a ticket, driving up to the car park barrier and then winding down the window. All these things are a frustration to me!
Similarly, on the course, those whose bags, trolleys, or buggies are always the other side of the green from where they should be and, without knowing, waste minutes on each hole. Heaven knows what is going on in their world! Don't they have other things to do today?
On a more personal note, I ask myself why should my choice of shot be influenced by the slow group ahead, so that I am forced to lay up to keep the game moving, rather than go for the green. You know, of course, that by waiting, your chances of making that pure shot are diminishing with every minute. And then, if that is not enough, you heap more negativity and pressure, that you will look pretty stupid if you now duff a fairway wood or long iron. The group behind won't be best pleased!
I do not propose that we sprint around the course, rushing our shots and come off the course feeling exhausted. What I suggest is that, by observing a few courtesies, we take etiquette a little further. In your friendly group, agree to a set of principles by which precious moments can be shaved off each hole, time can be made for the properly lined-up putt, and an effective pre-shot routine can be done without frustrating and unduly inconveniencing others.
I would like to share with you some suggestions to get things moving again benefiting not only your group, but also those groups behind you.
For competition and event organisers
The Tee Shot
On the Green
If I had but one tip to speed play, it would be to keep up with the group ahead and not to simply rely on keeping ahead of the group behind.
If we all observe just a few of these suggestions, we are very likely to reap the benefits of having more time to properly consider each shot, time to enjoy our golf, and time to enjoy each other's company.
It might also help save your marriage or relationship and get you home in time to mow the lawn or play with the kids.
This column was written by Tim Horan, a Londoner / reader / follower / fellow "oober." The opinions stated above are 100% his and do not necessarily reflect those of oobgolf in any way. Enjoy! And remember, he's ready for your feedback.
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Image via Flickr, Paul O'Mahony
[ comments ]
spot on. Couldn't have offered better suggestions.
"subway"? Call yourself a Londoner?
While I fully agree with all of this 110%, it appears we are in the minority. The last few forum posts on another site about the same topic have all ended up w/ the seeming majority of responses being along the lines of: "I'm out there enjoying my day, don't rush me", "We all aren't out here to get our round over with as fast as possible", etc.
It pains me to even think of playing a 5 hour round anymore (all twilight golf, under 3.5 hours now), but pains me even more that the thought of trying to keep a 4 hour round pace on the weekends angers a lot of people.
I'd be happy with a 4.5 hour round on the weekends. Even in a scramble!! We played a 6 hour round in a scramble this weekend. It was aging.
joe jones says:
I pretty much agree with every suggestion with one addition. Stop emulating what the Pro's do especially around the green. Plum bobbing, reading grain and looking at the putt from every direction may be valuable to the tour players but most weekend golfers don't understand what they see and worse don't benefit from it. I literally laugh my ass off when I see some guy go through all of his meticulous preparations and then three putt from 15 ft.It can add 2-3 minutes per hole to a round and add up to an hour for the day. Pick a line, trust your stroke, and hit the putt.One of two things will happen. It will go in or not. 50-50 odds are better than most gambling games. You will be amazed how many putts go in with this method. I don't even use a practice stroke. Try that method. It might suprise you.
I completely agree about playing up to the group ahead. Most people are fixated on the group behind.
I played in a scramble recently and noticed the pace of play was pretty great! The change I could tell was that there was a two-putt maximum. So if you missed the first putt, there was no grinding on the come-backer.
Thanks for the essay, Tim. Well done.
As an occasionally grumpy old fart, I have been known to dispense unrequested and pointed advice on picking up the pace. Slow people never learn how to keep pace unless someone tells them specifically how to proceed.
I understand that golfers have a pre-shot routine. I just wish they would start it early enough if their position doesn't interfere with the other players in the group. After that, I can't stand watching a player address the ball and just stand there for over 5 seconds before he pulls the trigger. If there's a waggle involved, I understand; a la Jason Duffner. If the situation is more like Ben Crane or Kevin Na, then I would probably act like Rory Sabbatini. I apologize in advance for my behavior.
I went to a Seattle muni as a single the other day and got paired up with one other single. He was a little older than me and not a great player, so our pace was not great.
Soon another twosome teed off behind us and quickly was right on our tail. No one really in sight in front of us or behind them. By the 6th tee I said to they guy, "hey, let's let that twosome through, they're much faster, they're right on our tail". He said... "uh... no. There's no one behind them. They can play slower".
Either he had some sort of personal vendetta against those two particular guys, or, that just strikes me as amazingly inconsiderate. Those two guys behind us, there round took, I dunno, 30-45 minutes longer than it should have just because of this guy.
This seems typical of the modern "me first" society. I stopped reading after the 4th paragraph. Ye gods forbid someone take 4 extra seconds to roll down a window...
"The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry." --Brooks Hatlen
That's a great list of suggestions. I know that I am average at best when hitting a shot (I am deliberate) but I do all of these things and tend to be one of the fastest players in a group because of it.
@jeffcroupier I've been there and that's it goes along with what I said in my previous comment. I've been the group trying to play through, whether standing behind the slow group in every single fairway for xx holes or by specifically asking. I can't count how many times ppl said something like "if you want to play with us that's fine" or "you're not going to get too far, there's another group ahead".
How am I hurting your by playing through your group? Are there extra points awarded for finishing ahead of groups already on the course?
Excellent points and article, Tim.
Most of your suggestions are plain old common sense. Every golfer should be aware of them. You would think that would be part of learning the game. A goal of keeping up with the group ahead rather than worrying about the group behind is key. All the suggestions are just simple ways to accomplish the goal.
It would be so sweet if every golfer/group on an entire course could practice all these methods. We would all play in under 4 hours on a weekend afternoon.
I thank my dad for the first golf lesson he taught me. It was "son you have two options play good or play fast, and you aren't good unless you have multiple majors."
To this day that is the first lesson I remember. With that ingrained he took me out to play as young as 5 years old. I usually picked up on every hole to keep up with the group in front of us, but at 5 I didn't care.
The motto in our golf league is "You don't have to be good to play fast." I don't think anyone is expecting 3 hour rounds on the weekends - it's avoiding the 5+ hour rounds that is important. Great article.
Tim Horan says:
@jpjeffrey - I apologise it was written for the masses. I don't think most Oobers would identify with the "Tube". and @spacemanyo - I hope you did read on. It is just common courtesy to be prepared when others are waiting behind you. If everyone were un-prepared the queues would be far longer.
I guess I'm very fortunate. I don't deal with a lot of slow play. As some of y'all know my group normally plays 6 and the time frame is about 4 hrs give of take depending on how good or bad people are playing. I hate slow play and I'm that guy that will ask to go thru if you make me wait a couple holes. Yesterday I went out to RTJ as a single. They weren't all that busy and a group was in front a few holes. So I played 2 balls to slow me down. Teed off at 9:20. By hole 6 a caught that group. On hole 7 I almost drove the the green and they were very kind to let me thru. I past another group on9 when they stopped at the clubhouse. Went thru another group on 11 par 3. ( made birdie which was awesome ) and on 14 a group decided to let me hit with them and when we all went to hit the second I would continue on. After I hit my drive they decided to just let me thru. By 11:35 I was in my car headed home. So most places I go slow play is not an issue and most are kind enough to let faster players go thru.
Oh and my fav way of seeing people who do play slow is the guy putting for a 10 from 25ft. Unless your in a tournament pick that crap up, get off the course and go to the driving range and putting green until you get better. My first year of golf I spent more time at those two places than anywhere because I had an old guy tell me that if I couldn't make contact with the ball but once out of ten shots I don't need to be on the course.
Always nice to have a chance to vent about the pace of play. Is anyone worried about too quick a pace?
But seriously, much of the science I've looked at which governs the behavior of individuals is a bit more global in nature. Take a school, or factory... there are fights, thefts, vandalism, and inefficiencies with the work at hand. And while a teacher, or a Tim Horan, may point to individual accountability, the larger structures often have the greatest overall effect on positive, or civilized behavior. Making sure the locks, bells, drinking fountains, toilets, and clocks all work make a big difference. Quick and appropriate discipline are a must. Yet the organizational logic is the big elephant in this circus. Why are we playing? What is the format? When do we expect to finish? Time spent = time allotted! When assigning work tasks it is always important to be clear about: task, time, and quality.
The usga has this site www.usga.org/MicroSite.aspx?id=21474856307
...and agrees that course design, pace checkpoints, sport expectations are a big deal. My dad, a boy scout troop leader teachers young leaders the TSDP or tell-sell-delegate-participate method of leadership. This means that while we're all here ranting, all we've done is tell. There are three more steps: selling the idea to courses, new players, partners; delegating different aspects of the initiative to different parties (designers, course managers, grounds crews, players, pros, etc.); and participating in these areas - read the pledge to your group, volunteer as a ranger at your local club, boycotting clubs with slow play, teeing it forward with your beginner buddy, etc.
But in the end it's the larger design and expectation of the game which lead to the breakdown of the individual, not the other way round!
A quote from the Pebble Beach Study: "Harper and his team were well aware that if players wait on every shot, for example, their perceptions about the value of their investment of time and money erode."
How to shop for a better-paced round.
Tim Horan says:
Web played a medal round last weekend going out in the second group. We played through the first group out on the first hole as they were looking for a ball. We never saw them again. We finished in 3½ hours, had a drink and a sandwich in the clubhouse and went home before the next group came in. How frustrating would that have been if we had been behind them all round? BTW our tee slots are eight minutes.
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