Saturday, January 14, 2012

Slow Play Is Killing Our Sport

Slow Play Is Killing Our Sport
By Sean Mysel - "CrossGolfDude"

This was posted on Luke Donald's Twitter account, 
It's not that hard, be ready when it's your turn. Slow play is killing our sport
— Luke Donald (@LukeDonald) January 9, 2012
I saw this posted on Donald's Twitter account while waiting on the 5th tee box at my home course for a two some that called in search and rescue for the shots they hit into the rough.  The search lasted approximately 10 minutes while I waited and thought that perhaps this is the biggest cancer on the sport of golf.  If you ask a general manager of any given golf course, they would tell you a round of golf should take no more than four hours and 30 minutes to complete start to finish.  This is supposed to be the case whether you are a high handicapper or a world number one player like Donald.  Yet, many golfers find themselves blowing up an entire afternoon playing a round of golf that lasts upwards of five hours or more (usually more).  What are the causes or cause of this problem?
In my honest opinion, just observing golf course behavior, I think skill level has less to do with the problem than just an awareness of where you are and what's around you on the course.  Here's an example.  I was at the putting green at my local club practicing, this putting green sits right next to the first tee at my course.  A foursome was called up to the box and had a clear fairway, meaning they had no one in front of them.  Two of the golfers opened up a cigar box and spent about 8 minutes lighting cigars.  Their playing partners spent about another 10 minutes opening beers and talking about the upcoming 49ers game this weekend.  Their tee time was 1:30pm and by 1:44pm the first ball was struck into the adjoining fairway.  Let me present more evidence, because this even happens with singles.  I was behind a young man who had seen me putting on the 2nd green which is adjacent to the par 3 3rd hole.  As I finish out my putt, I begin walking to my cart and notice that he's hit multiple shots.  As I wait on the 3rd tee box, I come to find out he's hit four balls!  One, two, three......FOUR!  I will hit multiple shots, however, once I see someone is coming up behind me....that stops immediately.  So how do we fix this problem?
First suggestion I would make is educating golfers about keeping track of time and their surroundings.  At my course, there are clocks to remind golfers about their pace of play.  Problem is there needs to be someone out on the course to enforce the rules.  When golfers check in at the clubhouse, starters should remind golfers of the time constraints and to keep their time wasting to a minimum (of course it would be presented more amicably).   Second, if people grossly violate the pace of play rules, just kick them off.  It's like my grandfather used to tell me, there's some business you simply can do without.
Finally, the PGA needs to put people on the clock.  We get that these guys are playing for millions of dollars, but they're setting a horrible example of how the game is supposed to be played.  Viewers don't need to see you moan and carry on after missing a putt..seriously!  In fact, it may help to kick a PGA Tour player off a hole or give him a big penalty for screwing around and wasting time.  Whether they realize or not, professional athletes set an example for amateurs of all ages and they too need to be aware of their surroundings.