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Punch Shot: How to combat slow play on local level

Pick Up The Pace
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June is Pace of Play month on Golf Channel. Our writers offer up their thoughts on how to combat slow play on the local level.


The best way is to offer monetary initiatives.

Here’s the biggest problem with slow play: It affects the culprit a lot less than it affects everyone else around the culprit. A single taking five hours to play 18 holes on an otherwise empty golf course isn’t in itself an issue; put that same single on a crowded course and you’ve got mayhem sprouting in all directions.

Of course, one player’s methodical enjoyment of the game shouldn’t come at the risk of alienating dozens of others. Which means the only way to get that player to move faster is to offer incentives. And – this just in – the best incentive there is happens to be money.

What denomination depends on the course and how management would like to approach it. Twenty percent off your next round if you play in under three-and-a-half hours? Ten percent off if you play in under four hours? Whatever it is, it will work. And there’s a business advantage, too: Offering a coupon for the next round will get more players – and more quick players – out to the course again soon. It’s a win-win proposition for management and golfers.


There are some really good ideas out there already at work.

At H. Smith Richardson Golf Course in the Town of Fairfield, Conn., there’s a time-par system in place that’s highly effective. Players get pace-of-play cards that match their tee time so they know exactly what time they’re supposed to be on each tee during a round. Players who fall back after one warning are forced to pick up their balls and move to the tee box that matches their time par.

It works, but we’re thinking out of the box here, so let’s go with our society’s most substantial motivator, money. Let’s try financial incentives.

While I would love to see slow pokes fined, that’s obviously not good for the game, but how about some financial reward? How about charging players a time-par deposit? You pay a $10 deposit, you get it back if you meet your time par. At more expensive courses, make it a $25 deposit.

That way, you drive for show, make time pars for dough.


Don’t just talk about Teeing It Forward. Enforce it.

The initiative makes so much sense – golfers play the course at a length that suits their game.

If you drive the ball 250 yards, you shouldn’t be playing tees longer than 6,400. For a 225-yard driver, play tees no longer than 6,000. Moving up a box should mean fewer shots, and shorter distances traveled on each hole, and fewer lost balls. If that plan doesn’t speed up play, well, buy a few lessons.

Why has this not taken yet hold at the local level? Ego, for one thing. No one wants to play from an area that was previously marked as the senior tees. It’s embarrassing.

So, take ego out of it. Rope off the back tees. Force players to tee off from the proper box. Erect a Tee It Forward sign on the first tee. Instruct starters to have a more active role.

Hitting shorter shots into greens should not only speed up play, but increase enjoyment, too. Sounds like a win-win.