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Wasted time slows pace more than wasted shots

I disagree that the biggest cause of slow play in recreational golf is bad play (“Bad golf amplifies slow play, and you’re likely at fault,” May 17, I know lots of 18-plus-handicappers who get around in less than four hours.

The biggest issue in pace of play with recreational golfers is time wasted between shots. The simplest of acts can speed play. Do not put clubs away in your cart until you reach your next shot. I am going to oversimplify things, but, if you take 100 shots per round, about 50 will entail changing sticks at your cart. This excludes short-game shots during which a player is around the green and away from the cart. Even at 20 seconds to put clubs away and clean them, that is nearly 17 minutes saved on the course. That's the low-hanging fruit right there.

Reaching your ball independently of your playing partner also helps reduce time. Sitting on the cart waiting for him to hit is another problem. If you must travel with your playing partner to his shot, and then he travels to yours, each person is collectively adding 30 seconds to the round for each occurrence. 

While I've based all of this on people who ride, where I come from it seems as if the large proportion of golfers use a cart. If you want to harp on course designers to speed play up, a simple answer could be putting cart paths (not paved) up the middle of the fairway. On cart-path-only days, golfers would not have to walk across an entire hole, only to walk back again to retrieve the cart. Or harp on the designer for creating such long walks between holes.

Suggesting that slow play in recreational golf is primarily caused by bad golf is unfair as the time wasting I've identified above is created by good and bad golfers alike.

Morgan Rubes
Collingwood, Ontario


Best golfers should tee off before noon

Wow. It’s about time that someone figured out the real cause of slow play.

Unfortunately, as you surmised, there is no good answer to solving this problem. One that comes to mind is to have all of the low-handicap golfers tee off before noon. Naturally, this won't go over well with the higher handicaps, some of whom will want to get in an early round, but I can't think of any other way to keep the golf course moving.

Perhaps you could have a limited number go off the back nine and see how that works to appease some of those who will assuredly complain about this idea to speed up play.

Ted A. Biskind
Shaker Heights, Ohio


Put Van Sickle in a kilt and stop skirting the issue

I like Gary Van Sickle, but what a horribly misguided opinion he wrote about slow play.

Apparently, he's never played in Scotland, among other places. Slow play comes from slow players doing slow things, and we desperately must fix it.

Gary's opinion only justifies inaction and a future of five-plus-hour rounds. 

Matt Cohn
San Francisco 


The intersection of Zen and commerce

I’m one of those bad golfers who has never broken 100. In fact, I gave up golf a few years ago because I was so bad at it, even after lessons and practice, and I hate being bad at anything. But I found myself missing my golfing friends and the beautifully landscaped courses we played, so I have taken it up again.

My solution to slow play is one part Zen and one part commerce. I’ve decided not to care about the pace of play but just enjoy being outside (Zen). I’m retired and in no rush to be anywhere else. And I buy the cheapest balls I can find, and when I hit into the rough I just leave them there without looking for them (commerce).

Also, I know it slows play, but it’s just funny when your playing partner hits a tee-box marker and the ball goes backwards.   

Barry Marcus


Play the right tees, and pick it up

It might be helpful for golfers to pick the right tees based upon their skills. You shouldn't be playing from the back tees if you are a bogey-or-worse golfer. Having golfers in the same group tee off from different tees should not be dismissed.

If you are playing in a large group, not only stress ready golf but explain it. Most people will never admit that they are the problem. Pick up your ball after you hit double bogey and get ready for the next hole.

We are starting to see several courses being built with fewer than 18 holes: 12, etc. Another idea for beginning golfers (besides lessons) is to play on easier public courses that are less expensive. Also, play cheaper golf balls. I don't think I have purchased golf balls for my own use, ever. My favorite brand is "found balls." For the average golfer, the golf ball is not the problem.

We have one golfer in our group who frequently shoots in the 70s but has a routine that is so slow and deliberate that many people avoid playing in his group. He makes everyone else speed up to make up for him, which often affects them. We have joked about it and even said things like a stroke penalty for every 10 minutes behind that his group finishes. So far, no impact. It’s very frustrating.

Ray Rose
Boyne Falls, Mich.


Know thy game, and ease up on the hooch

Slow golfers drive me nuts. These are the issues for the recreational golfer:

? Don't know their game. They hit a 210-yard drive and then wait for the green to clean for their 320-yard second shot on a par 5.

? Carts. People wait in their cart till their partner hits, then drive 10 yards to their ball. Golf is a walking sport.

? Honors. People who can safely hit waiting on the guy to drive the 10 yards to their ball.

? Alcohol. I've seen foursomes buying four six-packs at 8 in the morning, then another four at the turn. How can you play when you're stumbling?

? And more than once I've heard the phrase "I'm retired. I don't care how long we're out here.”

Keep pushing. Maybe somebody, some day will listen 

Paul Golabowski 
Noblesville, Ind.


Enough is enough, at times

One suggestion is for clubs and players to follow the “equitable stroke control” system, whereby players pick up after maxing out their score on a hole (i.e., a 7 for a player such as myself, with a handicap index of 10.8).

Secondly, players need to be drilled with the "hit when ready" procedure instead of waiting around to determine who is back and thus should play first.

Thirdly, where clubs have marshals employed, they need to be trained to be firm, but polite, in speeding up play when necessary.

Lee Murray
Naples, Fla.


Rhett Roberts personifies best in game

This youngster should be the poster child for golf (“A purpose [and a smile] unlike any other,” May 17, 

It's not about being the greatest but to see Rhett Roberts, with the obstacle that life dealt him and the heart he has once he saw something he wanted to do. And then, to compete and not move forward in the competition, and the first thing he says is, "I'm looking to next year’s competition": priceless.

Tom Ryan
Yorba Linda, Calif.


Young Rhett makes a fan in Georgia

I agree that Drive, Chip, and Putt should be about growing the game, not just identifying the best junior golfers.

Obviously, most children who start playing golf will not play competitive golf beyond their high school team (if that), much less become professionals. That does not mean they can’t enjoy playing golf at their individual level, and continuing to play throughout their lives for fun.

As for those with disabilities, again it is at their level.

I coached a high school wrestler with cerebral palsy. He lost every match, but he never gave up, and I am sure that it helped him become a success in life.

My hat’s off to Rhett, and I would play with him any time.  

Stan Smith
Roswell, Ga.


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