One of the biggest issues currently in the game, anyone from the casual golfer to the touring pro will agree, is slow play. In the last couple years, the golfs various governing bodies have devised their own attempts at resolving the slow play issue. The PGA of America came up with “Tee It Forward”, the USGA with “While We’re Young”, and the PGATOUR with “Its Not Our Fault”. I recently had the ‘opportunity’ to play golf with a coworker (lets call him Jim) who, in a good month plays once, and if he kept accurate score would shoot 120 under the best of circumstances. This experience made me acutely aware of one thing…. The average golfer has no clue what they are doing.
Let me explain why I, as of this round, am completely against all “initiatives” taken by golf’s governing bodies.
1 – I can count on one hand how often Jim, in all of his 116* shots that day, actually saw where his ball finished. He could have teed off from the 150 markers, and the only way that would have sped up the round was the fact we have 4 fewer shots per hole to look for. I cannot imagine how long that round would have taken had it been him and 3 similarly skilled golfers in the same group. I was raised on a golf course, and the ability to watch and find golf balls was instilled in me at a very young age. Had I not been there, he’d have either lost close to 30 balls that day, or he’d STILL be playing that round, 4 days later.
2 – The inability for Jim to understand efficiency around the course, especially the greens, astounded me. Without getting too wordy, let me give the most ridiculous example of an event when I considered a sand wedge to my forehead may be a better option than golf with Jim. 5th hole, Jim had chipped onto the green, about 60 feet from the hole (after subsequent 5 minute ball searches in the right rough). Jim brought his wedge and putter, like any golfer should do. After putting his 60 footer about 20 feet short, Jim walked up to his ball (it was still his turn), marked it, and promptly walked back to his wedge, which was sitting 40 feet away on the green between himself and the cart, retrieved it, and took it back with him to his mark that was comfortably resting 20 feet from the hole. WTF?!?! THE WEDGE WOULD HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU ON YOUR RETURN TO THE CART!!!
3 – At least once per hole after a poor shot, Jim would magically pull a ball from his pocket, drop it from where the previous ball was played, and make another horrific attempt at a golf shots (after yet another excessively long and unnecessary pre-shot routine).
4 – For someone who was very liberal with not counting tops, whiffs, chunks, etc… the time spent over 2 foot putts was absolutely ridiculous.
5 – This next point has virtually nothing to do with slow play, but it confuses me to no end, and no matter how many ways I asked the question, I could never get an answer. Jim was driving the cart, and when he pulled up to the green, every time, he’d pull the cart off the path completely before he stopped. Why?!? Parking a cart on concrete doesn’t kill grass. Parking a cart on grass does. Forget the agronomy of the parking issue, I don’t expect most people to understand that…when I park my car I don’t look for the nearest grassy area, I leave it on the concrete, which was obviously designed for the parking of my car. The same goes with the cart!!
At no point did Jim consider himself to be a slow golfer, and when asked “hypothetically” about ways he could speed his round up, he could make no recommendations. Nor had Jim ever heard of the “Tee It Forward” or “While We’re Young” campaigns. This round of golf, and my discussions with him, made me realize one very important thing….
The average golfer has no interaction with golf other than their 5 hour, once per month rounds. The USGA and PGA can have all the initiatives they want, but promoting them solely on golf broadcasts or in golf publications only reaches the people who already know they are slow and who want to improve. The average golfer doesn’t watch golf telecasts, doesn’t watch The Golf Channel, doesn’t subscribe to golf periodicals, they smuggle a 6pack of beer onto their local muni once a month and smack a ball around in a game that loosely resembles golf.
Do I have an answer to this dilemma? Maybe. Does it involve anything less than physical torture and removal from golf courses? Potentially. I haven’t thought through it enough to post my solutions…however, I would love to hear your ideas and solutions as it relates to the slow play problem. Is there a solution? What do you think?