Slow play problems comparable to driving a car

By Jason SobelJune 2, 2013, 1:00 pm

Whenever the topic of slow play comes up, I always compare it with traffic problems. To wit: Rarely do individuals own up to being part of the problem; instead, it’s the guy up ahead who is to blame. And the guy ahead of him. And the guy ahead of that guy. But hardly ever do people look in at themselves in the rearview mirror and find the person staring back at fault.

That’s true for drivers and it’s true for golfers. It’s always someone else guilty of rubbernecking at an accident or changing lanes for no reason at all – or checking the wind for a sixth time or dawdling over a 2-footer.

With Golf Channel’s Pace of Play Month getting its motor running and heading out on the highway, I decided to take this analogy for a test drive.

“The big word that comes up is rhythm. Once you’re in rhythm and one little thing happens, it botches everything up. So in that sense, I think there is a comparison,” explained Phil Caruso, the deputy director for technical problems at the Institute of Transportation Engineers. “You tee off, have a certain harmony and rhythm and then – boom! – someone is taking their time and your rhythm gets thrown off. It’s a ripple effect. When you’re talking congestion, there could be a fender bender that affects traffic flow, so there is a comparison there from that perspective.”

It felt good to have my comparison vindicated, but not good enough.

No, simply claiming that slow play in golf is like traffic counts only as the first piece in a much larger puzzle. Where this analogy can be most effective is investigating problem-solving techniques on the roads and attempting to apply them toward alleviating this issue on the course.

“In terms of mobility and in terms of trying to maintain a momentum, there are a lot of variables,” Caruso continues. “The pedestrian enters into it, taxis, delivery trucks, bicyclists, freight operators. All of it affects congestion. And you get the same type of thing on the golf course with different kinds of golfers.”

“We use something called the 85th percentile – the best speed is what 85 percent of the drivers feel comfortable driving at,” said William Bombard, city engineer for Providence, R.I. “A rural setting on a two-lane road with a shoulder, depending on the amount of curves and dips, the 85th percentile may drive it 47 miles per hour, so that tells us we should set that limit at no more than 50. How can we apply that to the links? I’ve been on some courses where it says, ‘If you’re here now and you’ve been on the course for more than an hour, you’re too slow.’ Signs like that might be appropriate.”

All good ideas, but these bastions of the fast lanes have nothing on the Ohio Department of Transportation District 1, which is apparently the David Letterman of all Department of Transportation Districts. The good folks presiding over many roads in the Buckeye State offered a Top 10 list on “How Being a Good Driver Can Translate Into Being a Faster Golfer”:

10. Observe the speed limit: Reduce slow play by observing the honors rule. The person in your group who had the lowest score on the previous hole tees off first, the second lowest tees off second and so on.

9. Be aware of your travel time: Observe appropriate time limits when looking for lost balls. Taking too much time is directly related to “congestion” and “backups” building upstream.

8. Be an alert driver: As you watch your drive travel down the fairway, take note of the landing area to identify physical features nearby that will help you locate your ball quicker as you move up to take your next shot. Other “passengers” in your group should do the same which can shorten “travel time.”

7. Check your rearview mirror: While your ultimate destination lies ahead of you on the green, periodically look behind you at the fairway and the tee box. Other groups standing around waiting to hit their approach shot or to tee off is an indication of slow play.

6. Be patient: People often think they sit forever at a traffic signal. In reality, the average time a driver is held at a traffic signal is 30-45 seconds. Perhaps slow play is, at times, only a matter of perception.

5. Don’t drive distracted: As with driving a vehicle, stay focused and keep moving. Don’t step up on the tee and start telling a story about last night’s dinner. Don’t take a call or start texting on your phone. Don’t overdo the practice swings. Just hit the ball.

4. Obey the signs: Traffic jams are in part attributed to drivers waiting until the last minute to merge when travel lanes are taken out of service. Merging at the first opportunity rather than at the last helps maintain better traffic flow. On the course, be aware of changing circumstances and do your part to keep things moving.

3. Travel with passengers: Having multiple passengers in a car is good for reducing traffic congestion on the highway, but having more than four in your golf group can significantly slow play. Just as highways are designed for a particular volume of traffic, golf courses are designed for groups of four golfers. A twosome works fine, but you should expect to be slowed by the group of four in front of you.

2. Quick Clear: There is an initiative in the state of Ohio called Quick Clear, which encourages first responders, tow truck operators and drivers to quickly remove vehicles involved in a crash out of travel lanes and off to the side of the road. The reason? Crashes cause major traffic delays and also contribute to secondary crashes. In golf, the Quick Clear concept can also apply. Avoid those major delays and secondary crashes on the course.

And the No. 1 way being a good driver can translate into being a faster golfer …

1. Let faster traffic pass: We all know how irritating it is when a slower vehicle stays in the passing lane while traffic backs up behind. Remember that feeling when you’re playing golf. If you’re slowing play, let the faster, more skilled group behind play through. There’s no shame in that. In fact, it’s courteous and proper.

So there you have it. Not only is slow play analogous to traffic, but we can use solutions to the latter as ideas for fixing the former. What began as a simple comparison could actually be applied to real-world logistics on the golf course, employing the mentality of the roads to fairways and greens.

As for me, I’m going to play fast no matter what. I hear the next airing of “Late Show with Ohio Department of Transportation District 1” is coming on soon.

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.

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Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.

“Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

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“We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.

In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010. 

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Woods impresses DeChambeau, Day on Tuesday

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 11:27 pm

SAN DIEGO – Bryson DeChambeau played with Tiger Woods for the first time Tuesday morning, and the biggest surprise was that he wasn’t overcome by nerves.

“That’s what I was concerned about,” DeChambeau said. “Am I just gonna be slapping it around off the tee? But I was able to play pretty well.”

So was Woods.

DeChambeau said that Woods looked “fantastic” as he prepares to make his first PGA Tour start in a year.

“His game looks solid. His body doesn’t hurt. He’s just like, yeah, I’m playing golf again,” DeChambeau said. “And he’s having fun, too, which is a good thing.”

Woods arrived at Torrey Pines before 7 a.m. local time Tuesday, when the temperature hadn’t yet crept above 50 degrees. He warmed up and played the back nine of Torrey Pines’ South Course with DeChambeau and Jason Day.

“He looks impressive; it was good to see,” Day told afterward. “You take (Farmers) last year and the Dubai tournament out, and he hasn’t really played in two years. I think the biggest thing is to not get too far ahead, or think he’s going to come back and win straight away.

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“The other time he came back, I don’t think he was ready and he probably came back too soon. This time he definitely looks ready. I think his swing is really nice, he’s hitting the driver a long way and he looks like he’s got some speed, which is great.”

Woods said that his caddie, Joe LaCava, spent four days with him in South Florida last week and that he’s ready to go.

“Before the Hero I was basically given the OK probably about three or four weeks prior to the tournament, and I thought I did pretty good in that prep time,” Woods told, referring to his tie for ninth in the 18-man event.

“Now I’ve had a little more time to get ready for this event. I’ve played a lot more golf, and overall I feel like I’ve made some nice changes. I feel good.”

Woods is first off Torrey Pines’ North Course in Wednesday’s pro-am, scheduled for 6:40 a.m. local time.