Too many golfers vote with their feet
The letter by Scott McCollum is spot on (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Feb. 12, http://bit.ly/2EZdExG).
Players like Scott and myself (55 years a golfer, retired, healthy, with plenty of time and money) are just walking away from memberships and the game due to the horrendous pace of play and failure of courses and players to play at a reasonable pace.
Sunday’s tournament at Pebble Beach is another terrible instance of the pros setting a horrible example on a day with perfect weather and perfect conditions. The final threesome took 6:05 to complete its round. Seeing three groups on the 17th and 18th tees is a total absurdity. Clubs “allowing” 4½ hours while riding as an acceptable pace of play is the problem right from the start.
On a recent round in Florida, right after a rain which mandated cart path only on a 6,500-yard course with expansive walking distances from green to next tee, we played in 3:20. The age of players walking in our group was 65-73. Tracking by iPhone measured the total distance walked at 6.2 miles. We all walked, played well, conversed along the way and went to our own balls and were prepared to play by the time we reached our balls. We all mandated continuous putting and played ready golf. It can and should be mandated by clubs to keep it moving. Nobody rushed, and we all had a good time. The game is forcing a segment of the playing population to walk away.
The men and women who have plenty of time to play and the assets to travel to resorts and buy all of the new gear have had enough. We will play the occasional round because it is in our blood, but the days of everyday play in our prosperous retirements is over. I will ride my bike here on Cape Cod. The industry is quickly losing the demographic that has the time and resources to keep it going. If you want further confirmation, just look at the residential communities being built in south Florida now, in wealthy areas such as Boca Raton, West Palm, etc. None of them have golf courses and mega clubhouses. They have done their homework and realize people won’t spend $50,000-$100,000 to join and $20,000 dues when they can spend $35-$50 to play on all of the formerly private clubs that have failed and gone public.
Club pros could do more to hasten play
A few comments on slow play:
1. Stop complaining about slow play on the PGA Tour. We're watching it on TV. If we don't like the pace of play, we can turn the TV off or switch to something more exciting, such as Major League Soccer.
2. The club professionals should stop offering suggestions on ways to speed up play. They're the ones giving lessons on pre-shot routines, visualization and other mind techniques that are worthless to the 20-handicapper. Indirectly, they're teaching people to be slow.
3. The club professionals control virtually all aspects of a round of golf. They know who the slow players are. The professional needs to get out of his/her retail-focused pro shop, get out on the course and move the slow players along or make them let faster players through. But they're reluctant to do so because many times the slower players are board members who control the club pro’s contract.
Slow play is a very fixable problem, but no one wants to take the steps to fix it for fear of offending someone. Playing golf is a privilege, not a right.
Rabbits set the pace in Pennsylvania
My foursome always plays ready golf, and that is why we are always given the first tee time.
In the 3-3:15 it takes us to play, we have time to repair divots that the golfers from the previous day have ignored. Our handicaps range from 8 to 15, and our ages range from 68 to 80.
If we can do it, everyone should be able to play in less than four hours.
Taking his time, and happily so
I have been enjoying my Morning Read for several months now. Recently, as I read the piece on pace of play (“Tour could take lessons from Indiana kids,” Jan. 30, http://bit.ly/2EoxSR4) and the immediate reactions to it, I leaned back in my chair to think over a debate that occurred at our club last summer.
A member of our group who plays only five or six times a year yet pays the ever-rising dues at the club made the statement, "I help
pay for your course and your clubhouse but seldom use it. If I want to play a four-hour round, I feel that you should thank me for my commitment." He always lets people play through and always plays with a smile on his face.
The game and club membership prices have soared through the years, so if someone wants to play at his leisure, then I agree with him, if he obeys the courtesies of the game.
Like many clubs, we have the group that hangs out in the grill every day and thinks that the club is its private reserve. This member takes much better care of the course when he plays than almost all of them.
I take the stance of “get off your high horse” and let people enjoy the game as they choose to enjoy it. With that said, I also firmly believe that in doing so they should also be very aware of the others on the course and step aside as faster groups move through.
As for the professional game, I think the PGA Tour should take full responsibility for pace of play and enforce the rules. One of my favorite players is Jordan Spieth, yet I think his delay at last year’s British Open was abysmal. A player should have a few minutes to assess his options and then play forward.
Golf is a wonderful game, both to play and watch. Let’s not get over-officious and ruin it for everyone else.
Hot Springs, Ark.
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