The USGA has put forth a commendable amount of resources and efforts in its campaign to end slow play on the golf course. Slow play is a big issue that has continued to increase over the years. It’s time we get in gear and put it to an end.
USGA President Glen Nager outlines the following as the main components of the recently launched program:
- Analysis of key factors known to influence pace of play
- Development of a pace-of-play model based on quantifiable data
- Improvements to the USGA Pace Rating System
- On-site assistance at golf courses to help managers assess and improve pace of play
- Creation of player education programs
A series of “While We’re Young” videos have been implemented to help promote this important message. Taken from the infamous movie Caddyshack, the tagline is a play on Rodney Dangerfield’s (Czervik) line used to shame Ted Knight (Smails) into speeding up play. Endorsed by big names such as Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Clint Eastwood, Paula Creamer, and Annika Sorenstam, this clever and humorous initiative has real potential for improving the pace of play.
While there are many other factors that impact the pace of play, the course design is one that players don’t have much control over. Courses with a greater length, green-to-tee walk, and number of hazards are just simply going to take longer to play. It’s not only the responsibility of the players to keep up their pace – it also falls on the facility staff. Properly distributing tee times, employing a “starter” to keep up with the tee times, and having a ranger to patrol the course and monitor groups’ pace of play are ways to help avoid lengthy rounds and back-ups on the course.
A Pace of Play Pledge has also been designed by the USGA to further promote faster play. Key points of the pledge include:
- Identify ways that I can pick up the pace
- Give Tee It Forward a try
- Practice “ready golf” during stroke play
- Serve as an example for those around me
- Embrace opportunities to play nine holes
- Play more quickly, play better and have more fun!
Of course slow play isn’t an issue on all courses. This is one reason why golf trips to the United Kingdom are so attractive. Slow play just isn’t much of an issue. The majority of the courses weren’t designed for real estate purposes like many in the US – instead, they were designed just for golf. The course layout reflects this in the relatively short green-to-tee distance, helping cut down walking time in between holes. Another reason play is faster in the UK is that players aren’t usually posting for their handicaps.
While I encourage you to sign the Pace of Play Pledge, I ask that you personally try to be more conscientious not only of your own pace of play but also that of your group’s. And the next time you find yourself waiting on the group ahead of you, remember you can always take a golf trip to the UK and avoid that frustration.
Share this with your friends if you’d like to help make the game more enjoyable and speed up the pace of play.
For more information about the USGA’s Pace of Play initiative, visit the sites below.