Too many golfers believe that slow play is the number one problem in golf. For us – course owners, architects, administrators, manufacturers, golfers, and everybody involved in the game – to ignore this problem and not do something about resolving it, would make us complicit in allowing this potentially fatal disease to eat away and eventually ruin the most wonderful game ever devised by man.
As I mentioned, in previous writings, we need to look for the root cause of the problem as well as some quick fixes to alleviate the immediate pain. Having a selection of pills from which to choose to relieve every irritation is not a good long-term solution for golf or our health care.
An example of some quick fixes are a “pay by the hour” pill, which might get those who want to play eighteen holes around faster but not those who would like to play nine holes slowly. Or a “stop emulating the tour players” pill is questionable because the PGA Tour have not to date addressed the slow play problem effectively. However, it seems that they have recently recognized the extent of the problem which may affect the game and in turn their viewership.
Another suggested quick fix is to make the hole larger – this will only diminish the challenge, which is the attraction golf presents. The list of pills – suggested by the most concerned golfers, with the game at heart — goes on and I believe some are band-aids which will fall off, or pills which will eventually lose their potency.
When we recognize that it takes only one slow car on a single-lane highway to hold up all the traffic we start making the problem explicit. From this point of view let’s define why that single car is moving slowly. Is it a student (learner) driver; a tourist enjoying the ambiance; or is it the fact that the road is too treacherous for some drivers?
There may be many other reasons and addressing the root cause is the real challenge and is our most effective way to resolve the problem.
We need to develop some immediate solutions, knowing well that some may not be as effective as we would like and may need some tweaking or rejection later. However, we must do something soon, and never become complacent or lose our willingness to introduce new ideas based on the results of a concerted effort to research the efficacy of new initiatives.
Some immediate suggestions to get us off first base are:
• Modify the design of courses – tee positions, fairway widths, and length of rough – and make them more friendly to the average and less skilled golfer, while still challenging the skilled golfer – this is in the hands of the architects and supported by course owners and superintendants.
• Insist on the use of tee boxes appropriate for the average handicap of the group (four-ball or two-ball)
• No less than 10 minutes between tee times
• When paying green/cart fees, golfers should accept the conditions of play. Included in these would be the provision that golfers holding up the course would move off to the side, out of the way of faster moving traffic until the backup has been cleared. This process would be administered by a well trained ranger.
• Golfers should be reminded that their position on the course is immediately behind the group in front of them, not immediately in front of the group behind them.
• Educational pamphlets such as “How to avoid getting side-lined” or “How to help improve the enjoyment of the game” with some tried and proven procedures such as how to speed up cart golf; how to speed up play on the green — and many other sound suggestions to help speed up play and make your game more enjoyable.
These, if implemented ASAP with an eye to improving them as we learn the effectiveness of each, are some of my suggested slow traffic control suggestions.
We do not have the luxury of sitting around talking about this anymore.
Neither do we need to make the game a tyrannical experience for those who are attracted for the inner warmth it stimulates when we accept the challenge to evaluate ourselves in the company of our friends.
Please give us your input and suggestions regarding this form of attack and the need to act as soon as we can and refine later.