Can this man's staff deliver viable solutions?
Preventing a slow death
By Torleif Sorenson on 2/5/13
On Monday, January 28, following the slower-than-a-walrus-on-morphine conclusion to the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, Tiger Woods made a notable comment about that afternoon's pace of play. Since it took three hours, 45 minutes to finish 11 holes of golf, Tiger exercised considerable restraint when he said:
Well, the group ahead of us was a hole behind most of the entire back nine. I don't know if they were warned or not or they were timed. But we were just playing slow. We were just having to wait on every shot, so it got a little slow. The three of us were losing our patience a little bit out there. I certainly was. Unfortunately, it affected my play a little bit.
This seems to be a case of fortunate timing, but over the weekend, the United States Golf Association (USGA) announced a multi-pronged research initiative into combating slow play. In his 27-minute speech on Saturday, February 2 at the USGA Annual Meeting in Coronado, Calif., USGA president Glen Nager told his audience of a new initiative to research and combat slow play. [Transcript, speech video]

Getting into some detail, Nager said that the four largest factors that affect pace of play are:
  1. Course design, including overall course length, green-to-tee distance, and the location and number of hazards;

  2. Course management and set-up, which includes green speed, hole locations, and the height settings of rough;

  3. Player management, especially better management of tee-times; and

  4. Educating golfers not just on on-course behavior, but also taking their ability into account.
Given the technological and research tools available, the USGA plans to build upon their existing Pace Rating System, gathering quantifiable data and working on feasible solutions to the problem.

In advance of the results of this research, we'd like to hear from you: Should the PGA Tour begin doling out penalty strokes for egregiously slow play?


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Image via USGA


[ comments ]
GolfSmith7 says:
Yes they should hit them with slow pace penalty and it should be a one shot on the first offense and a two shot penalty thereafter during a tournament. These are professionals not weekend hacks. They have so many advantages, people looking for their wayward shots, officials to inform them of the rules, pristine venues need I go on? There is no way, especially after the cut that there should be slow play.
2/5/13
 
legitimatebeef says:
Wow, talk about a bureaucracy. Maybe they could've tried approaching Erik Compton and Steve Marino with a simple "HEY FELLOWS YOU MIND PICKING UP THE PACE A LITTLE?" You never know, it might have helped.
2/5/13
 
bkuehn1952 says:
My concern is with day-to-day play. All the penalties issued by the Tour and words spoken by the USGA mean little if it doesn't produce a noticeable change in the pace of play at the amateur level.
2/5/13
 
GolfSmith7 says:
Golf is a sport where you are aware of your surroundings they had to know the group in front of them left them behind. Especially when they didn't have to wait to tee off, that should have told them something. Also its not hard to know when there is a group behind you waiting on you either. Also they have a slow pace rule they just need to start enforcing it but I say have it be more harsh to get it into their heads its time to play quicker. After an initial warning then see my first post.
2/5/13
 
mjaber says:
Since they are just now launching a "research initiative", we will probably find out what the results are sometime after the Olympics.
2/5/13
 
mjaber says:
Wait... why couldn't they just ask to play through?
2/5/13
 
Beekeeper45 says:
Would have to agree, at the Pro level after the verabal warning should penalty shots be applied. Also, once the ball is addressed and a swing is made and you miss, thats a stoke, not a practice swing...whiff is a whiff and a shank....nuff said. At the amateur level at the local muni, 2 over, pick up and move on. I was behind a foursome last year they were in carts, while one was hitting the other would just sit in the cart with his ball not 5 yards away....really...once they were out of range, I tee up and take off watching them and counting shots, 15 to the green, now really is that necessary.
2/5/13
 
Beekeeper45 says:
@mjaber, Great question!!!
2/5/13
 
GolfSmith7 says:
That would be funny to see pro's asking the group in front if they could play through. Would that even be allowed on tour?
2/5/13
 
FiddySnead says:
I dont like the stroke penalties. These guys work hard at their craft and if they need a little time to figure out what they r going to do so be it. Fine them an absurd amoujt of money after a first warning if this is such a big ordeal. Im sure the sonsors arent complaining about the extended air time.
2/5/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
I was 5 when my dad started to teach me to play golf. I still remember the first thing he ever said...
"You have 2 options. Play good or play fast, and right now you aren't good."

When my wife wanted to learn that was the first thing I told her too.
2/5/13
 
GBogey says:
I think that there are two really separate issues here. The PGA Tour needs to address slow play because it will eventually impact TV viewership and event attendance. This, however, pits the long term interest of the Tour against the its own members, who don't want to be penalized as it hurts their individual winnings. It is no different from when an employee owned company struggles with hurting individual owners against greater good for the company. This is why the Tour struggles to discipline its own members.
2/5/13
 
GBogey says:
The USGA needs to try to preserve the popularity of golf as a participant sport, regardless of what happens to the tour, because in a time stressed society golf is losing out due to how long it takes. I think that the USGA has some worthy ideas, but without effective ranger programs, they are just ideas.
2/5/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
I think many of the courses are hurting themselves as well. There have been numerous occasions where I had 2-3 hours and would have loved to play 9 holes but the course basically makes it so I dont. For example some have rules where you can only play 9 holes after a certain time of day. Others make the pricing rediculous, for example one of my nearby courses usually costs around $45 for 18 holes and $38 for 9 holes.

I find the latter sittuation extreemly common.

Given those choices I just decide to not go. I've emailed the managment at many of the courses explaining this to them and one managment company (owns 2 nearby courses) actually emailed me back thanking me and revised their 9 hole pricing structure, the rest didn't seem to care. Guess where I play most of my golf now?
2/5/13
 
joe jones says:
Slow play by every day players can be controlled with a strong player assistant program. I was a marshal for 5 years in Las Vegas. Because of a large number of vacationing players and 3 days of double shotgun play every week we had what was perhaps the strongest control program ever. Always polite: We registered each cart as to location and time each pass, enforced the rule of catching up strongly. 1st time please catch up, 2nd warning, move up behind group ahead, 3rd warning leave the course. No refund and don't come back.4th we had the right to call police if players got abusive. Rules were always politely enforced and it was rare we ever got to step 3 or 4. We had handicap flags and several carts for handicap players which helped with flow.
2/6/13
 
joe jones says:
The PGA must start to add penalty strokes to players that are slow. Slow play is an infraction just like breaking any other rule. Fines mean nothing.One warning to get moving . Two strokes per warning there after. It's harsh if one player is causing the problem but I guarantee the fast players will police the slow players if they are hit with a penalty. Just as players police their questions about rules they can and will make the slow poke improve. All it takes is one group to play slow to back up everyone behind them. If its one of the first groups off the tee the whole field suffers.Every bad habit the pro's show are copied by weekend players.Most of the players that plumb bob get nothing out of it. They see Ben Crenshaw doing it so they do it. It obviously works for Ben but I see very few amateurs that have any idea how it works.
2/6/13
 
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