Slow Play Letters

Mike,

Writing to you from Ireland:


I have just read your article about slow play and agree 100% with you. At my home course a golfer is penalised one shot for each 15 minutes he is over the time limit of 3 hours 45 minutes for 18 holes singles competition. I can tell you it does not happen very often.

Now for my rant…..

But try looking at the coverage of golf on TV here in Ireland where we get the feed from The Golf Channel and CBS through the pay for view channel at SKY TV
Last night SKY TV started at 6 p.m. and by 7.30 pm we had saw approx 20 minutes of actual golf.
Then we had a break of 30 minutes when The Golf Channel went off air and we waited until CBS finished a basketball match coverage.
Approx 8.30 pm we got to see two shots then an ad break
I videoed the full 5.5 hours from 6 pm to 11.30 pm and pressed the pause button during ad breaks, leader board run throughs and views from the Blimp.
Result: 2 hours 2 minutes of actual golf coverage. AND we had to put up with Nick Faldo (SIR ?) ranting on about how great he was during his golfing career.
Compare that to the coverage that BBC TV put on during the Open Championship in Britain. 9 am to 8 pm for four days with NO breaks for adverts. AND the pleasure of listening to Peter Alliss and company
Your pet aversion is slow play and mine is TV coverage.
I will cancel my subscription if you will.
best regards

Michael Neary
Golfing Memories
4 Dublin Road
Bray
Co. Wicklow.
Ireland

***

Hi Mike,

I agree about how long it takes a Touring Pro to play, however, pushing or not watching an event will only hurt us, the Tour will not get faster and even if they do our game won’t speed up.

I think the Private or Public Course’s need to police their slow play, have Marshall’s TELL THE GROUP that is out position to pick up their balls and move to the next Tee and stay there to see that they in-fact do that.

Several course’s have gps units on their carts that can even be monitored from the pro shop with alarms that will tell what ever they want to know..

Faster play will only happen if a GC makes it happen, after a month or so of an action like this, it will be well known that slow play will not be tolerated here, you may lose a few players to begin with, then watch the faster players come to your GC

Thanks for the article,

RpZ

***

Mike:

Of course your rant against slow play by the PGA is right on. There must be some way to encourage them to enforce their own rules.

In my opinion, they slow play they exhibit is, by example, extended to all golf on all courses, which is the worst thing about it. I occasionally play with a co-worker who waits until it’s his turn to putt, and then, in typical ‘pro’ fashion, lines his putt up from both sides. I goad him with statements about reading Moby Dick faster than he reads putts, but it’s his routine and it obviously comes highly recommended.

Here’s my suggestion for speeding up play:

Give all putts inside 15” for a half stroke. Install the measurement tool on the hole flag shaft, either a simple extendable arm, or something electronic that would beep the good news that it can be picked up. All golfers decry the rule that a 6” putt counts the same as a 250 yd drive anyway, and it would offer rewards in terms of fewer playoffs as well due to the more complex scoring.

Our company hosts a golf outing every year, Captains Choice format. I intend to try it out this year. It has to help.

Jim Fowler, P.E.

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Regarding slow play: Put out a fast foursome first. Tell and enforce the local rule of keeping up with the group in front of you. If a group does not keep up, give the ranger the authority to have the slowpokes skip a hole. (That means the ranger has to do his work also.)

Anonymous

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I have followed with interest, the articles appearing in “The golf post” on slow play and would like to add some perspective to the debate from a “newcomer” to the game.

Two years ago, at 68 years of age, I took up playing golf after many years of competitive cycling, playing field hockey and having completed more than 50 marathons including some ultra marathons.

My plan was first of all to learn how to handle my clubs, how to strike a stationary ball and how to get my “old” body to pivot so that I could develop a rhythm and a swing. (more or less successfully accomplished)

I spent a year on the driving range doing this, so that “one day” when I got out on to the field of play, I would not mess up the game for either the twosome, threesome or four ball in which I may be lucky to play.

We all know that hitting on a driving range is VERY different from being on the course, and we all know that there are no “practice courses” (they are for real play) so practice is for the range!

I have learned that for people who have played golf for many years there is almost an arrogance or reluctance (unless it is your son or grandson’s first time on a course) to have the patience to quiet things down, or as it is known, to SLOW things down, so that a new player to the game can translate the learned skills off the driving range on to the practical skills needed on the real field of play! Rushing begets errors!

I am of the opinion that that when you first go on to the course it is IMPOSSIBLE to play at a 4hour 10 minute pace, for a whole lot of practical reasons, not least of which is the confined space you are in by comparison to the range, and very little of the surface from you have to strike the ball on the course, is flat, by comparison to the driving range!

If you look at say the New York marathon where upwards of 40,000 people are now running the race, 2 million people get out in the streets on New York to watch this spectacle. imagine if the organizers stipulated that you had to finish in less than 3 hours or be fined! Imagine if they said, “finish in 4 hours or you cannot run in the marathon again?” A disaster it would be. Now I know that running and golf are different, but running copes with the sub 3 hour or ELITE runners by starting them off first! Clear roads ahead! Golf can do this too. Oh yes I know it is all about course revenue, the more rounds we can squeeze in the more revenue we collect, but it is also about the future of the game. Force me to do the impossible (run a marathon at 70 years of age in under 3 hours and I will drop out of the sport), Similarly force me to play a miserable game in 4hr 10mins and I will never learn to play properly so that I may join the “good guys” and I too will stop playing! Don’t force me to pick up after 1 or 2 putts, how will I ever learn to putt properly in a “game” environment, after all it is supposed to be a “game” and not a competition every time I play, or have I got it wrong again?

The art of problem solving is not to have rules that are so penal that you cut off your nose to spite your face but to find ways to compromise and ensure that old and young, good and bad, professional and amateur can enjoy golf’s great game and its facilities together.

Keep the debate on the “pace of play” going but find a solution to allow us all to PLAY THE GAME

Sincerely
David Glasser

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Hi Mike, Personally, it does not matter a jot to me how long the pro’s take to play a round of golf as I only watch the last 9 holes on the last day, at the most. I would much rather play and do so quite frequently. My simple recipe for curbing slow play for the masses is to have conscientious rangers on the course backed up by their manager /owners. They simply instruct the offending group to stand aside or leave the course.
The rangers would also monitor the opposite problem – those impatiently hitting into the group in front, occurring often on par 3’s.

Eventually it is hoped that the habitually slow groups gravitate to the badly run clubs and the rest of us play at the better run clubs.

Lez Stewart

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Thanks for the great suggestion.
I have gone round and round with the GM at my course who thinks it is a 4:45-5:00 hour course. I used to be able to walk it in 3:45-4:00 with another guy and the other two in a cart. I never held anyone up-yes I am in good shape for a 64 year old.
No one plays “ready golf” and new guys say that they can’t waste 5-6 hours on a Saturday away from home.
The tour needs to fine slow play or DQ them. I am sure that R&A, PGA America and the tour would disagree, but a round should not take more than 4-4.5 hours even on tour.

Dave Maltby
Smithfield, VA

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Come on, are you serious? You can’t ask people not to watch a PGA broadcast after what we all witnessed yesterday @ Pebble. That was grand theater at its best. The way to get the PGA’s attention (any corporation) is to do the following. Boycott their sponsors and advertisers. That means no new clubs, balls, cars, banking services, gasoline, beers, whatever and whomever are contributing to the PGA’s coffers. That’s the only thing that will get their attention since they have broadcasting rights tied up with Golf Channel, CBS and NBC for years and years. Hit ‘em in the pocketbook of the people who are funding them and they’ll start listening.

Anonymous

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Way to keep the pressure on the slow guys. There are so many little things the average player can do to pick up the pace.
We just added a new pace of play local rule at our club. (It was actually one of the first rules of etiquette that I was taught in junior golf.):
If your group is one full hole behind the group in front of you, AND if a group is waiting on your group, your group MUST immediately let the group behind play through. This does not mean that your group needs to stop play and wait. They can play the hole together and just let those passing through put out first and head to the next tee. For the first time, this rule will now apply during all tournaments, as well.

Steve Tessmer

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I am a caddie at Pebble Beach Golf Links and just finished working the AT&T National Pro-Am. The issue of slow play is a glaring one both on the Tour and at Pebble Beach every day. The issue on Tour, however, goes much deeper than the simplicity of slow play. The culture of the Tour is to hide everything. The Tour rarely, if ever, exposes its weaknesses to the public. Are we to believe there is no drug use on Tour? The Tour itself is arrogant and it permeates throughout the organization, especially with the players.

On Saturday this past week, Danny Lee’s amateur team shot a 64 to get them to -20 and into the final round. Lee, new to the Tour, signed the scorecard for a 67, merely because he did not care, and the team missed the cut by one shot! Are the fans going to hear about that? (Danny Lee did quite loudly from his Am partner Sunday morning at the range). The fans will not hear this because the Tour hides this behavior and many publications like yours do the same. Slow play is just one of many issues the Tour has but wants to sweep under the rug and the players, in turn, just act like their parent who feeds them.

Your story had a good start but it manifested into another fluff piece that will get little or no reaction…just what the Tour wants. It can swat away little flies like you because you refuse to go deeper and really make a stand. The cute statements at the end of your article, like the one about Full Metal Jousting, just made your piece lose any seriousness. The rounds at Pebble this past week are arduous. Granted, the way the tee times are set up, five hours is as fast as a round can be played. But, there is no reason why it should be just that. The pros are pathetically slow. But who cares if all we get is fluffy quips about it.

Mike Lehotta

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I’ve been fighting slow play for years and last year lost good friends over slow play. How about picking a tournament or a day of a tournament and asking everyone not to watch? Maybe a day when everyone emails the PGA. The Golf Channel, and CBS and don’t watch. Let me know if I can help.

John Zamzow

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Thank you for tackling the subject of slow play and more important seeking solutions or ideas.

 None of us seem to feel we are the cause of the problem. While most of us at times are(lost ball, playing with important customers, etc.). Every article I have ever seen attacks the problem of how each golfer can speed up his and his groups play, none approach what can be done when behind slow players or how the courses might improve their policies and layouts to improve the speed.

 Working as a ranger for several years and as a golfer for over 30 years, my suggestions are as follows. I fully realize some of these might generate other problems.

 Suggestions for the course to help solve slow play:

 1. Most cart paths are close to the back tees, but are often farther for the senior and ladies tees, the very people who might be slower in movement
 and agility. Make the path or the tee box closer together.
 2. A large percentage of golfers are seniors, both ladies and men. Do more to encourage their play during the week (discounts, perks, etc.)
 Some of the seniors have disabilities, have a handicap flag for their carts and invite them to drive closer to the greens and tee boxes than is
 normally acceptable.
 3. Encourage practice and teaching only on the driving range and play on the course. If the golfer is taking a newbie out on the course and giving him
 “lessons” a brief suggestion with a complimentary bucket of balls and a few minutes with the pro would seem to help the newbie, the pro, and the
 course.
 4. Encourage kids to tee off on par 4s and 5s at the 100, 150 or 200 yard maker. The location selected would be chosen by the persons ability. More
 fun for the kid, less hassle for everyone else.
 5. Eliminate fivesomes or more. Nothing slows down the course than a fivesomes followed by a sixsomes both in the weekly scramble.
 6. All scrambles must give way to faster players. Many scrambles of a weekly nature are frequent customers and/or members of the course, they
 seem to take an attitude of ownership of the course, this erodes etiquette and generates slow play.
 7. Eliminate long rough, the average golfer does not hit a lot of fairways, the search for lost balls only a short distance off should not be a safari. Lost
 ball searches consume a lot of time. Leaves in the fall and winter also create the same problems, both can be lessened by the greenkeeping
 staff.
 8. Most important of all have Rangers or Marshalls on the course, in a cart that is so identified. Train the rangers in how to deal with different situations
 and still not be overbearing or a negative. Rangers can make suggestions, solve problems and keep things moving. Use them.
 9. Along with the above a technical gadget needs to be made that would give the Ranger or staff the ability to disable a golf cart. This could be used
 on a tee box to make the slow play group stationary, thereby allowing groups to play through. Be pro active.
 10. Train the beverage cart girl/boy as to what golf is…have only certain places that they stop…
 11. Mark the sprinkler heads with yardage, a sky caddie and a colored making pen is all that is needed.

 There are other things that could be done but may have an effect that would speed up play but not be positive financially or could drive customers away.
 I live near a State Univ. owned and ran course. Beer or alcohol is not allowed on the course and is not sold by the clubhouse. Play is faster here
 than the course down the road where beer is available. I notice an increase in cell phone apps for the course, one recently had an app to call the
 beverage cart when one wanted. Apps to keep score, track stats, yardage…all encourage cell phone usage and cell phone calls both incoming and
 outgoing contribute to slow play. I realize beer or alcohol is a money maker for the course and cell phones are here to stay.

 Some course seem to be unable or unwilling to enforce any rules for fear of upsetting someone, what they fail to realize is the people affected by this is
 not only the culprit but the ones waiting behind….better to have one person upset than a dozen.

 I have seen the starter insert a foursome into the starting order when no openings were available,,,immediate backup. A course on Hilton Head that
 had closed one of their three 9 hole courses but had not notified the person taking tee times….etc. etc. etc. Bad course management by the staff,
 pros and clubhouse result in as many slow situations as the players do.

Keep up the pursuit of lessening slow play. Thanks again.

Ron Moss

***

Read your article with interest. Slow play is indeed a scourge and it’s getting worse. I strongly believe the tour players should be setting a good example to the rest of us so a tightening up of the rules for these guys is badly needed. The players, not just the watching public, are extremely frustrated by the slow play of a few individuals who have seem to be completely oblivious to the discomfort they cause to their fellow competitors.

The simple solution of allowing referees the discretion to time a player at any time where they suspect the player’s slow play to be evident would help greatly I think. I’m certain it would have the support of the vast majority of tour players. I can’t think why this hasn’t been addressed by the tours.

If individual tours or amateur bodies conducting tournaments wanted to make a real impact in reducing the occurrence of slow play, then I guess they could introduce their own rules or system provided it had the support of the players. I had in mind a a ‘random player timing’ system, something along the following lines.

1) The Tournament Director should decide beforehand whether ‘random player timing’ should be in place for the tournament and should decide whether to apply it to one or more rounds.

2) Before each round for which ‘random player timing’ will apply, the tournament director should randomly select a number of players (equivalent to the number of referees say) by his/her player number, and then assign that player to a referee to be timed during the round. The referee alone should decide when to time the player. At least one drive or approach shot, and at least one putt should be timed during the course of the round.

3) In respect of each tournament selected for ‘random player timing’’, the starter should inform each player on the first tee that ‘random player timing’ is in place and warn them that that any player playing a shot or stroke outside the allotted time will automatically be given a one stroke penalty for each violation. They should also be informed of the allotted time that applies for a shot or a putting stroke as well as the relevant criteria which will apply.

4) Whether or not a tournament has been selected for ‘random player timing’, referees should have the discretion to time any player at any time where they suspect the player’s slow play to be evident.

5) In respect of professional tour players, there could be a sliding scale of fines for those that have been penalised repeatedly for slow play during the course of a playing year.

Good luck with this.

Regards,
Paul Byrne

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Gene “The Squire” Sarazen once said, “Miss ’em quick.” in referring to the pace of play. This has been mentioned before, and it falls into the “it has to cost ’em” category that penalizing the pros with additional strokes would be. How ’bout charging by the hour on golf courses? I realize that those stuck behind slow players would also suffer (they are anyway), but good “rangering” could correct that. A good ranger could identify the slow group or groups and grant “pardons” to groups help up by the offenders.

Dennis Smith

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I don’t think there is any one thing that is the answer, there are many.

One is for cart riders, and I am one who cannot walk a full 18. When done with the shot, do not go to the back of the cart and put away your clubs and especially any with a head cover that requires re-attachment. Take the clubs in hand, get in the cart and go to the next shot. This is any easy time to clean the club face with a wet towel sitting on the floor of the cart.

When you get to your ball, you can then put your clubs away, get your next club and set up and hit. Get back in the cart with the club in hand and go to the next shot. This really helps coming off the green with a couple of wedges and putter or after hitting a driver, fiddling with the head cover. We do this and not only does it speed up play, keep a rhythm, but immediately changes to focus to the next shot, not the last!

Another thought is after hitting a shot, enough with the practice swings. Often someone will take two or three swings after hitting a shot. We have all seen this and it is usually one person who repeats it all during the round.

Let’s all keep the dialogue alive.

Dean Dodge

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Loved your column last week and this week. I walked off the course 4 times last year due to slow play. One time was when the High School tryouts were on.
I asked the Marshal, is this what we are teaching our young golfers??
I actually didn’t watch the PGA this week, since it has become too slow.

Walter Hill

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I just read your comments in the Global Golf Post this morning.

Kudos to you for suggesting something that might get some attention from Finchem. I will definitely support your cause and encourage all of my golfing buddies to do the same.

Keep up the good work.
Darrell Tracey

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Enjoyed your article in this weeks Global Golf Post and your “Drilling Down Distance” piece. I have a suggestion to draw attention to slow play on the PGA tour, the Molasses Cup. Each week players earn points for being the slowest player that week. The season ending winner would get the Molasses Cup.

Shawn Callaway

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It is so refreshing to read your articles on slow play as I am trying to raise the issue in Austalia where we have been infected by the Americn disease. Attached please find my thoughts on the matter.

Back to the Future – Golf has lost a culture that needs urgent review.

Where did it all go wrong? There are three major events that have changed golf for the worse:

1. The introduction of distance markers that have eliminated the skill of learning to play by eye.

2 . The advent of television and spread of bad examples set by Professional via this new medium.

3. The decline in training programs that taught new players how to play efficiently and understand the etiquette and manners of golf.

When I was a boy of Fourteen and joined my first Golf Club it was a given that the game of 18 holes was to be completed in 3 hours or less. This takes us back in time to the early 1950’s. Slow play was simply not tolerated in the era and the game was the better for it.
Perhaps the early rot set in with distance markers. We all used our eye for distance and perhaps a return to this approach is an essential for the amateur game.

It is frustrating to see amateur players fussing over club selection based on seeking out a distance marker that often takes time to locate. When one considers even reasonably competent single figure amateur handicap players hit perhaps three or four pure shots over the whole journey and this makes for perhaps a 20 metre difference to the length of the shot. Professionals play another game that bears no resemblance to the bulk of amateur players. It is not uncommon to see a long marker fussing over a distance of 30 metres to the green and wondering what club to play as though they they have the talent to play the shot within a metre of the target.

This point alone would not only improve the way amateurs play by removing cluttered minds and also save an enormous amount of time. The difference in time from the eye player who arrives at the ball having decided what club to play and plays the shot immediately and the player who fiddles around pondering distance and calculating which club to play is not less than 30 seconds and more in many cases. Given the 20 marker invariably takes a practice swing that bears no resemblance to the actual shot this time increases again. In any event if one player in the group takes 30 seconds more to hit a shot and takes one hundred shots there goes 50 minutes of yawn time for the eye player. If there are two such players in the group there is no hope for a quality game for the eye player

2. Antics on the putting green:

Once again the line of the putt should be taken on approach to the green as slopes are better viewed in this way. One then stands over the putt and strikes on the chosen line without fuss.

However the player who watches the professionals on TV is never ready to putt and when it is his turn he begins viewing the line from all sides and there goes another 20 seconds per putt. Marking the ball a foot from the hole and not putting out is another curse leading to more time lost.

3. Be ready to play:

Taking note of the order of play is basic. If one of your group is unaware in this matter and is far from ready be prepared to hit out of turn in the vain hope that the player whose turn it was will get the message. In my experience they have such a lack of awareness that in most cases they do not notice. This is describing a lack of golfing culture and is a key problem.
In much the same way when arriving at the tee the player who has the honour should promptly move to play the shot. How often do we hear “whose up” to encourage the unaware player who is still marking his card from the previous hole. He will then arrive to play after some delay and more seconds have ticked away. It is not difficult to add up 60 seconds per shot for the player who has no idea of how to play the game efficiently and with good manners. An hour is lost and it is at the expense of others who are distracted by this lack of consideration for others.

4. Marking the card:

The card should always be carried in your back pocket with several pencils. In most cases unless you are last to putt you will mark your card after the relevant player putts out. When last to putt you will mark the card while leaving the green. The unaware player will have the card on his buggy or cart and be attending to this when he should be on the next tee ready to play.

5. Ball markers:

How often do you see people fumbling around in their pockets trying to find their marker amongst all their tees et al. In my case I always have 3 markers in a fob pocket so that location of the marker is immediate – more precious seconds lost forever!

6. Organisation of clubs:

Most golf bags have 14 slots so that each club has it’s own slot and one can put a hand on the selected club without delay. Once again the unaware player will have his clubs all over the place and therefore more fumbling and seconds lost. The problem is that these players do not start out with any objective to be efficient and basic skills like this are an unknown subject. Today they are taught that four hours is a reasonable time and if you keep up with the turtles in front of you you are to be praised. Never mind that you have imposed or stolen an hour of the efficient player’s time. One hour out of four is a long time to fill in and nobody cares and worse still one is often censured for having the gall to target a three hour round or rush the turtle in the group. The result is that the quick player rushes his own shot to make up for the dithering unaware player.

7. Looking for balls:

It is a rule in most clubs that one player look for a ball after the other players have made a quick walk through the area. In most cases in long grass the ball will not be found but people do ferret around for the 5 minute period allowed. I personally work on the basis that I hit the ball there and would prefer others to go straight on. The lack of adherence to this rule causes huge time disruption especially if you have a player who may hit eight or ten shots into the wild per round. There goes another forty minutes.

The unaware player will of course walk around without having carried two or three clubs with them into the search area. Upon finding the ball they will then walk back to their bag or cart to gather a club making a trip of up to 50 metes each way. More yawn time for those that know how the game should be played.

8. Good Manners:

The unaware players are almost always ignorant of the following basics:

Never walk on another players putting line.

Do not position yourself on the line of a putt in the eye of the player who is putting and position yourself to the side.

Do not move or talk while others are playing a shot and again be positioned to the side.

Taking clubs past the green on the way to the next tee prior to putting out.

Playing ready golf.

Summary:

It is fair to say that Professional golf has had a massive impact. I have no difficulty with the fact that they should have a different set of conditions since they play for their keep. Even so there are known turtles in the professional ranks and some action is now underway to speed up ludicrous 5 or 6 hour playing times.

The amateur game however is for fun and enjoyment. The changes over the past fifty years have in my view been frustrating and without merit. In particular the merging of the professional and the amateur that should be separated in concept. In particular there is no training taken that allows the unaware to understand the basics of good golfing manners and efficiency of play. The concepts are not difficult to grasp and a suitable training medium needs to be undertaken before players are admitted for play in private clubs. Instead let them go through the pain of playing on public courses until they learn to play the game unselfishly.

It will be very difficult to cause a revolution in the culture of golf and change is always a difficult process. What will be required is the acceptance of a need for change and the backing of some high profile professionals together with the sport of amateur and professional golfing organisations.

Our objective is to create awareness and be the catalyst for the changes that are required.
It will be difficult but worth the effort if success can be achieved.

Richard Launder

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I’m with you on the slow play. I won’t play in almost any organized golf event due to the slow play and haven’t in years. I much prefer to get on the course alone, walk, carry my clubs, and finish in three hours….and I will be 68 in April!

Dean Baird

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I play with a regular group of golfers (15-20) once weekly weather permitting. We have an individual founder of the group that I like to call the “slow play golf Nazi”. While many days when playing we usually are in the 3:45 – 4 hours and minutes of play. We are are always the first group with tee times at the break of dawn at one particular public city owned course. If you are unfortunately paired with him in your foursome he gets to be a major pain in the ass when the following group is on the tee and we are putting out on the green. First thing out of his mouth is a mild hysterical complaint to our group that we are playing slow. Since we all know each other we really don’t mind waiting a little amongst ourselves but for the sake of the founder we make an effort to shut him up. Now here comes the reality. The course is a public course and we often can’t find our balls in the fairway and lots of luck if in the rough. I am not going to drop a ball every time I can’t find it in three to five minutes. The problem truly lies in the condition of the course. Now we have been playing this course for 15+years and the condition varies from substandard to fair annually. I have suggested moving on but many of the players spend more money on beer than the course fee. So to pay more for a better course is sacrilegious to mention since it will reduce their beer consumption at a Moose club we all go to after play. Many times I am convinced getting to the Moose at 10:30-11:00AM is the driving force behind the over reaction to minor slow play incidents. So if the golf Nazi or others are hungover getting to the Moose is a major priority. I enjoy their company because we all shrug at his hysterics and have a good time breaking each others cojones. I came from a private country club in Atlanta to Kentucky in 2005. Truth is in states like Georgia, panhandle of Florida and Alabama public and semi private courses are seriously maintained. At this time it is fruitless and unwarranted to lose any friends over this BS. I have decided I need to get back to a private club and deal with the more familiar nonsense of I am better than you crowd for a quality course. I can pick my friends as playing partners based on my criteria or just fill in for a lacking foursome that day. In closing, it’s not always just “Slow Play”! I have been playing golf for 32 years so my age of 63 makes me very insightful about golf issues. The rewards for a high pro tournament player finish dictates how much the PGA puts up with slow play. The recent Dubai golf tournament paid millions for Tiger to just show-up. Do you think they cared if he played slow? Our majors while the players play is monitored would never penalized the likes of Nicklaus, Palmer, Tiger, Phil M. Ex. except for the Masters that could care less who you are!
P.S. Drinking Cognac at 6:30AM may have an equal effect of not finding your ball even after you topped your drive to forty yards off the tee in my aforementioned group.
Best regards,

Frank Martinez

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This is what will really hurt them. We DVR the golf due to slow play. We skip the commercials and time between shots.

Except for the Masters

Keep up the good work.
Don Koser

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at the rate the tour players make money, I don’t think a fine will get their attention. What will get their attention is a penalty stroke or strokes, regardless of what position they are in during the tournament. Can you imagine their attention level ramping up if one of them is in contention and is assessed a 1 stroke penalty? I personally hate slow play and have been known to yell at the television when these guys pull that nonsense. I could write a novel on my feelings about slow play but in reality what good has it done. If the tour doesn’t pick up the pace, the average joe will not either, they try to emulate what the tour players do. Bad idea. Thanks for listening.

Pat Elliott-Pat Elliott Golf Academy

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I noticed in your most recent two-page rant on slow play, you pointed out that only one person didn’t care about slow play. I just didn’t care to take the time to write an email to you, because you’ll just blow it off like every other golf snob who picks up a pen or sits in front of a microphone to assert their “expert” opinion. The biggest thing I hate about watching golf is the commentators. I don’t mind slow play, it’s quite relaxing. If you have something better to do, then go do it. Don’t be the clown who hits your ball at the green right as the group in front is stepping off it. If you want new people to get into golf, they won’t start off playing as well as someone who has played their whole life, and will need time to practice and get better. I’m sure you didn’t have the patience to read this far, but if you have, congratulations, maybe you should have as much patience with people who’ve paid the same money to play the same course as you.

Thanks,
Ryan Van Culin

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I work on the LPGA event in Portland Mike and the LPGA has issues with slow play as well. But, they have the guts to give penalty strokes to those who violate the rule after warnings. Fining these guys 10K is not going to get it done. They have to assess penalties, just like you and I would get if we were playing in a local amateur event and were holding up play. There has to be a consequence for the actions that will actually mean something to these guys.

In the meantime, my remote is off.

Jack Nicklaus started this awful trend and it has just gotten worse. To engage the next generation for golf we have to make the game more exciting. A five and a half hour round is not going to do that.

We play fivesomes at my club, walking. We finish in under four hours. I think these guys in a threesome can get it done in less than five.
Thanks for a great article and hopefully the start of a great movement.

Reid Hutchins

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After reading your article, I would like to make another suggestion. I suggest folks record the PGA Tour events instead of watching them live. Naturally, during the replay, most folks skip the commercials thus the sponsor’s advertising is eliminated. Once the sponsors get wind that very few folks are watching their advertisements then maybe they can put pressure on the PGA to fix the problem.

I am a 68 year old golfer with a single digit handicap and every day I play I see more and more golfers emulating what they see the PGA pros doing on TV such as taking forever to figure out distances and looking over putts. There is nothing worse on a golf course than watching a 30 handicap golfer trying to get the exact distance on a 170 yard shot when there is a high probability he won’t even reach the green.

Thanks for your time.

Hewitt Bauguss

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As you point out, the Tour will not do anything about it. Another possibility for us is to DVR the telecast and fast forward through all the slow play and the commercials. I can hit the 30 second three times and not miss a thing. Finchem will pay attention when his advertisers find that their selling is not being watched.

V. Tarulis

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i have never seen mentioned what we experienced @ Royal Aberdeen twosomes only until 10:30 / foursomes could go out after that

maximum time posted per round (walking only); twosomes 3:15, foursomes 3:30 per round. average round was 3 hours for twosomes and a bit over for foursomes

slow play has affected how we play, which means we now look for inclement weather days (of which we have a lot in seattle),

when we get the course to ourselves on days like that, as a twosome we will frequently (with cart) get 18 in under three and 36 in five hours, and we have a blast!!

Ken Huber

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You have an ally here in Dade City regarding the “slow play problem”. I have read many articles about the malady being aided and abetted by what we see on TV. It makes one wonder what the general pace was prior to televised golf. The best idea I have read about to combat slow play concerns several courses in Arizona. According to the article, a 3 ½ hour time limit was instituted with players being required to sign a contract stating that they agree to skip holes if they fall off the required pace. Since that policy was instituted no one has exceeded the time limit, according to the manager of the facilities . That proves my point. It is the old adage “give someone an inch and they will take a mile”. Our two courses “allow” for 4 hours 10 minutes. There are people, including some members of our club, who see that time as something they have purchased . Our course advisors have suffered verbal abuse when they ask players to speed up when they are on a 5 hour pace. Asking most folks to move along usually brings some results. When I bring the 3 ½ hour policy/contract to the attention of the powers that be , I have been told that the club is afraid they will lose business if the pace of play time requirements are changed. I share your opinion in that it is the inverse of that thought. Five hour + rounds causes people to shy away from the game. When my son and I have gone out on hot summer afternoons we have played 18 in 2 hours. There is no rational reason why adding 2 people should add 3 more hours to a round of golf regardless of skill level. As an aside, the Golf Channel AM Tour has come into our facility and taken as long as 6 ½ hours to play a round. There was much hell raised about that since club management put them out ahead of our membership. That will not happen again. Their admin folks offered no help in affecting the pace or expressed any concern. I wrote a letter to the Golf Channel AM Tour and received no reply. One would think that the Golf Channel would share concern to the one factor that negatively affects the growth of the game. I am not sure they do share concern. The Golf Channel could and should help affect change regarding pace, not contribute to the problem . It will take a multi-faceted combined effort to solve the problem of slow play.
Larry Knight

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I support your concern on slow play. I have worked on guys in my group for over a year. We make attempts to speed up play. We don’t take long to look for lost balls, we put our clubs in the bag on the next T-Box, If someone is taking longer to get setup, the guy with faster setup will hit first(ready golf), we drop one guy off and head to the partners ball and the first guy when finished hitting walks back to the cart. We are now at 4 hrs and 30-40 minutes. Our main problem is that all 4 guys alot of time play in the 90s’ with occasional double and triple bogey, sometimes less. What’s reasonable for 4 guys in the 90s’? We’re not total goof balls, at times someone will play in the low 80’s. And still sometimes we are held up. Is their any acceptable time over course pace? Maybe you’ll get enough responces to follow up on this article.

Thank You,
Jeff Phillips

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I agree slow play is a killer and the PGA guys are the slowest. I play with two different groups of guys on the weekend. We make sure we have the first tee time. All four of us walk and we finish in 3 hours. I just don’t understand why it is necessary for these guys to play in twosomes and threesomes and take over 5 hours. The way I deal with it is by recording the event, I never watch any of them live. I zip through the commercials, I zip through the slow players like Ben Crane and others. If enough of us tell the advertisers that we are not going to sit there and watch 5 to 6 hours of golf plus their commercials, then perhaps the advertisers will put pressure on these guys to speed up. I would not mind watching a few commercials if the entire round took less than four hours. But I have better things to do than sit in front of the television all day.

Just my 2 cents, keep up the great writing.

Thanks, Mark Clemmons

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Set a standard time, say 25 seconds, to check yardage, pull a club and hit the ball. Anyone who misses the time frame is penalized 2 strokes every time they can’t meet the time requirement. If a guy loses 6 strokes a round or more because he is slow he’ll learn or shoot scores that will prevent him from being a tour pro.
It takes me less than 10 seconds to do this. Why can’t they?

Don Dalbert

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I totally agree with you on the slow play issue. Too many friends and colleagues will not play anymore because “it takes too much time”. I like to play with my son, who is also a good player, and we can play 18 walking late in the afternoon in about 2 hours 30 minutes – and that is a comfortable pace. And my son plays AJGA event where 3-somes in stiff competition on challenging courses are expected to play in about 4 hours 20 minutes on average.

The PGA Tour needs to recognize that the vast majority of the touring pros will play at a reasonable pace (say 4 hours 20 minutes) if everyone is required to play that pace. The course plays only as fast as the slowest group. Not addressing that and allowing play to proceed as slow as the slowest desire to play is killing the game from the ground up.

Keep up the good fight.
Michael Hultquist

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