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Acceptable Pace of Play
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.
Hot Off the Press
With immediate effect the Competitons Committee have decided that the Rayner Trophy will now be a stableford competition and the Wilkinson Cups will no longer be drawn for partners; for future reference enter the Wilkinson Cups in pairs.
The Competitions Committee also discussed slow play; it was felt that 10 minute tee times may help and so there will be a trial of this using the April Medals and the Hambling Trophy.
Slow Play News Item
Troon Golf, which owns more than 200 golf courses around the world, has implemented a new programme at its facilities which are aimed at speeding up play.
The ‘Troon Values Your Time’ programme communicates a pace-of-play standard to golfers, which details to them how long the round should take before they have teed off, gives priority tee times in the morning to quicker golfers and offers education to golfers regarding which tees they should use, how long they should prepare a shot for, where to drive golf buggies on the course, how long they should look for lost balls for, what to do while others are putting and so on.
“Although our industry has tried to address pace of play for decades, we believe the issue can only be addressed successfully if we collaboratively pursue solutions that consider the full set of factors that influence pace – the actions of golfers, the ways we design and manage golf courses and the influence of the elite competitive game,” said USGA executive director Mike Davis.
“Our new campaign illustrates the USGA’s energetic and action-oriented approach to pursuing worthwhile endeavours that serve the best interests of the game moving forward.”
USGA president Glen D. Nager added: “Slow play poses an increasingly significant threat to participation of golf. Golf is supposed to be fun and standing around on the course saps the fun out of it. Our campaign is fun and is a rallying cry for the public – to show the golfing industry that we want a faster game.”
“With time being such a precious commodity today, slow play on the golf course remains one of the industry’s major impediments of growth,” said Ryan Walls, Troon Golf’s senior vice president, operations, sales and marketing.
“This is why we are implementing standards at Troon-managed facilities that define pace-of-play expectations to ultimately remove a barrier that exists in the game and improve the experience of our guests and members.”
What do you think.....go to The Forum if you wish to comment.
Slow Play Survey
A new survey has found that golfers are taking longer than they would like to complete a round of golf and that some are even put off playing the game because of it. It also finds that golf clubs are not perceived to have done enough to tackle the problem, and that the issue of slow play is far more prevalent at the weekend. Golfshake.com polled 982 professional golfers, club members and nomadic golfers and analysed data from 6,801 rounds of golf, and found that 90 per cent of golfers want to complete a round of golf in less than four hours but that 59 per cent of golfers take more than four hours to play one. More than a half of golfers also said they wanted to finish their rounds in less than three and a half hours, but just one in four golfers achieve that. More than a fifth of golfers said that slow play would deter them from playing. The results seem to also indicate that golf club managers and operators are not doing enough to confront the issue, with 60 per cent of golfers saying that they have discussed the problem of slow play with friends. This is in contrast to only 15 per cent of those questioned saying the issue had been raised by their golf club.
“The results raise an issue for golf course operators and owners to tackle with the vast majority of golfers taking longer than they would like to complete a round of golf and many being actively put off from playing because of slow play,” said a spokesman for Golfshake.com. “Of the golfers questioned, 43 per cent took over four hours to complete their most recent round of golf and this figure jumps to 59 per cent for those playing at a weekend. Over 16 per cent of golfers took four and a half hours or longer to finish a round at the weekend with a further six per cent taking five hours or longer to complete their round of golf.“ The speed of play on a weekday was found to be considerably faster than at a weekend with 83 per cent of those questioned taking fewer than four hours to complete a round. “Many golfers feel slow play is a problem with 80 per cent suggesting that it is an issue. Some however did feel the subject of slow play is overhyped. In total, 19 per cent of those surveyed felt that too much is being made of slow play in golf.”
This is an article from Golf Club Management Magazine