Sunday, August 14, 2011

Slow Play

Why do people play slow on the golf course? Do they having nothing better to do that day AND figure that no one else on the course has anything to do either? Do they hate being home? Do they not care about the fact that they are making everyone in the groups behind miserable having to wait on every shot? I simply do not understand it. I love playing golf, I'd play 54 holes a day, every day of the year if I had that much time and money to do so. But I do not enjoy being on the golf course for hours on end, waiting 5 minutes to play every shot. There are maybe a dozen courses in the world where this would be acceptable and none of those are accessible to me on a daily basis (and I suspect if they were, it would no longer be acceptable to take a long time to play a round there).

I think what it amounts to is a basic lack of respect and courtesy on the golf course. Too many golfers today have no respect for other people's time and desires. It's quite sad really. Some people like to blame golf on television for slow play. I do not. Golf on television is professionals doing their jobs. When I am doing my job, I take my time as well, make sure everything correct before moving forward and taking a certain action. I have nothing against professional golfers doing the same. No, slow play on a daily basis on courses in town has nothing to do with the professional game. It has everything to do with the culture of golf that is put forward  at far too many public facilities. This culture where people feel like just because they have paid down a few dollars, they have the RIGHT to take as long as they wish to play a golf course. No, your fee doesn't give you the right to do anything; this is not a private-equity club where your fee gets you ownership of the club. Your fee gets you the privilege to come play and only then for so long as you are not intruding on the enjoyment of others on the course.

Its a great problem within the game, something that the USGA, PGA, National Golf Course Owners Association and course operators have essentially refused to work to correct. People try to put out "pace ratings" for golf courses, but these work out as a joke too. A course where I worked in Pinehurst, NC was "pace rated" at 4 hours 20 minutes, yet it was routine to see groups play in less than 3 hours early in the day. If every group on the course were to keep up with this group, even on a full day, every group on the course should be able to get around in 4 hours or less. But the management of the course steadfastly refused to let the course marshal's enforce a pace of play faster than 4 hours and 20 minutes.

But in the end, slow play amounts to one thing: Disrespect. Disrespect from other golfers on the course. Disrespect from management allowing one group to ruin the day for the rest of the golfers on the course. And frankly, disrespect from the governing and managing bodies to not call on their member clubs to work towards and force a much faster pace of play on the course. It's quite a poor state of affairs, I must say.