Is there a topic more polarizing in golf than pace of play? Golfers who wish to play quickly seek to excommunicate slow players from the church. Those who prefer an overly-leisurely pace are either immune to the criticism or oblivious to the delay they cause. Walkers criticize cart-riders and vice-versa. Is there a solution?
Let’s begin with the problem. One upon a time, a golfer decided that 4 hours would sound the bell for an acceptable round of 18 holes. Was it a four-ball or a two-ball? No one knows. Brits, Scots and Irish love to chastise us Yanks, claiming they play a two-ball (alternate shot or foursomes) in 2.5 hours. Of course we ask, what’s your hurry?
I’ll be honest~If I worked a long week of physical labor and want to kick back with some golf and suds on Saturday and/or Sunday, I deserve it. The questions is, do I deserve it at my/our pace or at a standard rate? If you love to play golf quickly, sneaking in holes at a rate approaching the speed limit, do you deserve an open fairway at every turn?
Our issues are these: who ranks higher as customer and how do we speed up play? I have no answer to the first question, other than we all do, so give us separate times of day to play. Speedier golfers play from 7-9 on weekend mornings, and also from 6 pm on. If you love your golf and play it in earnest, you’ll find other times during the week to get 18+ holes in. Jack Chillax and his coterie get the course the other days. They are only out on weekends, so can’t that time period be ceded to them?
Back to pace of play. It goes like this. If you’re walking, your number one goal is to get to your ball quickly and safely, all things being equal. If you have to help a dude search out his ball, give it two minutes then tell him to buy cheaper balls and to hit provisionals. Saves money, time and effort. If you happen to collide with a partner during the walk from tee to green, you can have a conversation. You can always have a conversation from green to tee!
If you share a cart, drop or be dropped at your ball with a few clubs. One of them will be the correct one; whether you hit the proper shot is on you. After your cart mate hits her/his shot, she/he will swing back and pick you up. Same rules apply for missing golf balls as stated above.
Have you heard announcers discuss hockey, soccer, basketball and football players and their ability to move without the ball/puck? It’s what they do when they don’t have possession that changes the game. Similarly, golf has movement and it’s all about how you move. Get to your ball and be ready to hit within 20 seconds and we have no slow play problem. The game is still fun, the suds are still cold and the time spent with friends is fiercely memorable.