Following requests from several members the Competitions Committee has been exploring a range of initiatives that it hopes will improve pace of play during Club competitions. Periodically, throughout the year, the Committee will ask members to help collect data that will enable us to understand better where and why delays actually occur and provide an opportunity for the Committee to make sensible adjustments and improvements.
For example, by one simple change – an increase in tee-time intervals from 9 to 10 minutes – the average time taken to complete the April Saturday Medal was a very respectable 3 hours and 49 minutes. This commendable improvement was reinforced by the data collected from last Sunday’s Hambling Trophy where the average time recorded was 3 hours and 45 minutes. These 2 times compare favourably with the R&A’s guidelines, which suggest that, for a 3-ball, the ‘acceptable pace of play’ should be around 3 hours and 30 minutes.
There are 2 interesting findings that have emerged from the data already. First, where groups stick faithfully to their allotted start time, and resist the temptation to tee off because the group ahead is out of range, they rarely have to wait on the 2nd and 5th tees.
Also, unsurprisingly, most significant delays occur because people are searching for, or have lost, a ball. This second finding suggests that some people are not playing a provisional ball when they are unsure about the fate of their first shot. If you are in any doubt, please play a provisional. This ball can be played again without penalty before looking for your first ball if you don't hit the second ball as far as your first.
The Committee intends to collect data from one competition a month for the remainder of the Season to establish what impact other variables (e.g. adverse weather) have on pace of play. The next competition at which data will be collected is the Coronation Cup in June . It would be most helpful if those players who are marking a card with a timings label could keep an eye on, and record, the time they arrive at the various tees (1, 4, 7, 10, 13, 16) and their finish time.
Ultimately, the Committee would like to see an acceptable pace of play for rounds in medal competitions at or around the 3 hours 45 minute. The revision of start times has shown that this is achievable. A number of members have already commented positively about the improvement made in pace of play.