|Pick up the Pace|
By Dick Hyland, Director of Golf, Country Club at DC Ranch
Of all the issues affecting our game, slow play is perhaps the easiest for all golfers to help fix-today.
There are four critical factors that discourage new golfers from enjoying the game and keep current golfers from playing more than they do: the game needs to be more accessible for all; more affordable and more fun I order to attract new golfers while pleasing the current golf enthusiast. Finally, there is the issue of slow play which we are addressing here.
We need to teach or retrain players to help the problem of slow play. Even though golf is said to be a social game, perhaps playing faster will allow for more quality social time at the end of the round instead of during it.
First, take a minute to prepare for the round by making sure all you need is easily accessible from your bag, cart, or caddie.
*Head covers, if needed on the clubs to prevent scratches, should be situated in the top compartment so they can be reached easily. If you don’t need the covers, put them in the cart or inside the bag.
*Group your irons for grab-and-go play. Have the mindset that every time you put a club I the bag, you take 1 to 3 clubs out based on what you know of your next shot. On an approach shot, you can typically guess which one of the three clubs will do the job.
*It is not imperative to put your club in the bag after every shot. Get in the cart with the club in your hand and go to your next shot.
*While your cart partner is hitting his next shot, walk or drive to your ball and prepare to hit.
*Certainly getting accurate yardages is important for all players, so be swift in looking for a yardage marker, a hole location sheet or using a yardage device.
*On the tees and full swing shots, play when you are ready and it is safe to play- be alert and get in the game!
*If in a bunker, rake your way out to a low point where it is easier to exit rather than climbing out on a steep slope.
*When driving to the green it is typically best to park your cart behind the green or the nearest exit point. Never park in front of the green where you are walking back into play after you have finished putting, ultimately holding up the group behind you.
*In a perfect world, continuous putting would be in place. You putt out when it is your turn, regardless of how far away from the flagstick your ball lays. Line up your putt from behind your ball only- that is where you typically get your first and best read of the green. Circling the whole aimlessly should be discouraged.
*Once you have picked up your ball marker, take no more than 15 seconds to hit your putt. The first player to hole out tends to the flagstick as all remaining putts are holed.
Faster play also means more space for additional golfers. More golfers mean more activity at the club and the potential for more revenue, more new friendships and possible business connections. Faster play means more family and friends time. It will give you more time after the round for quality socializing. I have yet to listen to a golfer say they played poorly because they were asked to play faster. I have heard players say they had no rhythm, timing or flow to their round as they were continually waiting to hit their next shot.
So, where does it start and who are the culprits for slow play? The first groups of the day set the pace and should be reminded of this. As they set the pace so follows the groups behind them. The old adage still holds true, it’s “keep up with the group in front of you,” not “stay in front of the group behind you.” Each course should be timed by hole so players know where they should be relative to the time they started. Slow play is gradually eating away at everyone’s enjoyment of the game, and in turn, golfers find alternate things to do with their time. It is the game for a lifetime, but it shouldn’t take you a lifetime to finish a round.
I was first introduced to golf as a caddie when we had a chance to play at the end of the day, and our goal was to get in as many holes as we could before dark. As a foursome, we could easily get in 8 holes in three hours walking and carrying our clubs. We need to get back to these times and take responsibility for our pace of play so every player at all levels can continue to enjoy this game for years to come.