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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Golf's Olympic format, qualifying process remain the same

By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 6:25 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Potential Olympic golfers for the 2020 Games in Tokyo were informed on Monday that the qualification process for both the men’s and women’s competitions will remain unchanged.

According to a memo sent to PGA Tour players, the qualification process begins on July 1, 2018, and will end on June 22, 2020, for the men, with the top 59 players from the Olympic Golf Rankings, which is drawn from the Official World Golf Ranking, earning a spot in Tokyo (the host country is assured a spot in the 60-player field). The women’s qualification process begins on July 8, 2018, and ends on June 29, 2020.

The format, 72-holes of individual stroke play, for the ’20 Games will also remain unchanged.

The ’20 Olympics will be held July 24 through Aug. 9, and the men’s competition will be played the week before the women’s event at Kasumigaseki Country Club.

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Notah: Driver is Tiger's No. 1 pre-Masters concern

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 5:49 pm

Tiger Woods mounted a Sunday charge at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, sending shockwaves through Bay Hill when it looked as though he might finally claim PGA Tour victory No. 80.

But the charge came to an end at the par-5 16th, where Woods had missed wide-right three days in a row before going OB-left on Sunday en route to bogey.

Woods’ API performance featured just a handful of drivers each day, as firm and fast conditions allowed him to make frequent use of a 2-iron off the tee.

That strategy led to a second top-5 finish in as many weeks, but if Woods wants to win again, if he wants claim another major, he is going to sort out his issues with the big stick.

A guest Monday morning on the Dan Patrick Show, Golf Channel’s Notah Begay believes the driver will be a focus for Woods in his pre-Masters preparation.

“Project No. 1 over the next two weeks is going to be the driver. … Any time he has to turn a shot right to left with trouble on the left, he struggles a little bit,” Begay said.

“Off the sixth tee, off the ninth tee, there was some errant shots. And then we saw the really horrible tee shot yesterday at 16. He talked about in the post-round comments. He just didn’t commit to a shot, and the worst thing that a professional athlete can do to themselves to compromise performance is not commit.

“And so he made a terrible swing, and that’s the miss that is really difficult for him to recover from, because the majority of his misses are out to the right. So, when you eliminate one half of the golf course, you can really make your way around … a lot easier. When you have a two-way miss going, which sometimes creeps into his driver, it really makes it difficult to take out some of the trouble that you’re looking at when you’re standing on the tee box.

“So he has to focus in on trying to find some way to navigate Augusta National with the driver, because it’s a course that’s going to force you to hit driver.”

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McIlroy trails only Woods in Masters betting odds

By Will GrayMarch 19, 2018, 5:47 pm

After rallying for victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rory McIlroy is once again among the betting favorites for the upcoming Masters.

McIlroy was available at 16/1 at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook last week, listed behind six other players. But after his three-shot win at Bay Hill, his odds were trimmed to 10/1, leaving him behind only betting favorite Tiger Woods.

Next month will mark McIlroy's fourth opportunity to close out the final leg of the career Grand Slam by slipping into a green jacket. Here's a look at the current betting odds, with the first round only 17 days away:

8/1: Tiger Woods

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas

14/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose

16/1: Jason Day, Jon Rahm

18/1: Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson

25/1: Paul Casey, Bubba Watson

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Tommy Fleetwood, Hideki Matsuyama

40/1: Henrik Stenson, Marc Leishman

50/1: Alex Noren

60/1: Matt Kuchar, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott, Tyrrell Hatton, Thomas Pieters

80/1: Branden Grace, Brian Harman, Tony Finau, Charley Hoffman, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Cantlay

100/1: Zach Johnson, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Webb Simpson, Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, Daniel Berger, Kevin Kisner

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NBC Sports' Final Round Coverage of Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard Scores Highest-Rated Overnight at Event in Six Years

By Golf Channel Public RelationsMarch 19, 2018, 5:42 pm

Arnold Palmer Invitational and Valspar Championship Post Two Highest-Rated Final Round PGA TOUR Telecasts (Non-Majors) on Any Broadcast Network since the 2015 Wyndham Championship

ORLANDO, Fla., March 19, 2018 – Record viewership of the PGA TOUR continued this weekend for NBC Sports Group at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. Sunday’s final round coverage on NBC (2-6:45 p.m. ET) delivered a 3.6 overnight rating, +136% vs. 2017 and the highest-rated final round at this event in six years. Combined with last week’s final round viewership at the Valspar Championship (5.1 overnight rating) these rank as the two highest-rated final round PGA TOUR telecasts (non-majors) on any broadcast network since the 2015 Wyndham Championship. Golf Channel’s Sunday final-round lead-in coverage earned a .97 overnight rating, the highest at this event in five years. Across NBC and Golf Channel’s coverage, more than 12 million minutes were streamed, +683% vs. 2017.


  • Sunday’s final round coverage on NBC peaked to a 4.89 from 5:15-5:30 p.m. ET.
  • Golf Channel’s lead-in coverage peaked to a 1.24 from 1:30-2 p.m. ET.


Saturday’s third round coverage earned a 2.29 overnight rating on NBC (2:30-6 p.m. ET), +92% vs. 2017 and the highest-rated at this event in five years. Golf Channel’s lead-in coverage (Noon-2:30 p.m. ET) earned a .95 overnight rating, +126% vs. 2017. Nearly 5.3 million minutes were streamed, +511% vs. 2017.


Friday’s second-round coverage on Golf Channel generated a .81 overnight rating, +153% vs. 2017 and the second highest-rated early round at this event on Golf Channel (2007-2018), just slightly behind the 2012 second round (.84). More the 4.2 million minutes were streamed on Golf Channel Digital, +682% vs. 2017.


Final numbers from Golf Channel’s opening round coverage on Thursday: .42 U.S. HH rating and 593,000 viewers, +56% vs. 2017 and the most-watched opening round at this event since 2011. More than 1.4 million minutes were streamed, +163% vs. 2017.


Four of the top-20 players in the world, Jon Rahm (No. 3), Tommy Fleetwood (No. 11), Tyrrell Hatton (No. 16) and Pat Perez (No. 19) are scheduled to join the live World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play Bracket Special tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET on Golf Channel. The 90-minute live primetime special will originate from Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt in Austin, Texas, and feature golf’s own version of a March bracket-style tournament selection format under the guidance of PGA TOUR competition officials.


NBC Sports Group will feature nearly 35 live hours of tournament coverage from the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. Golf Channel will carry live coverage of round robin matches Wednesday-Friday, March 21-23. On Saturday, March 24, Golf Channel will provide coverage of the Round of 16, followed by the Quarterfinals matches airing on NBC. On Sunday, March 25, Golf Channel will showcase the Semifinals matches, followed by the Championship and Consolation matches airing on NBC.


-NBC Sports Group-