Question of the Week

Organic cures for golf's pace of play issue

How do you handle golf's slow-play offenders?

We have all encountered slow golfers, and such instances can be frustrating. How do you react when a seemingly quick round turns into a marathon?

Please send your response to editor Stuart Hall. In order to be published, add your first and last name, along with your city and state of residence.

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To speed up play, players must play the proper tees — especially the harder the course.

I also see an inordinate amount of time spent looking for lost balls. The rule is now 3 minutes [for locating a ball], but no one follows it except in tournaments. However, maybe at $5 a rock they have to spend more time looking.

Eric Houser
Holly Springs, N.C.

Those golfers who need to get through 18 holes in less than 4 hours should find tee times and facilities that are likely to make that possible. But it is unrealistic to expect less than 4 hours on busy public courses, especially on weekends and busy times of the day.

Marshals can make a difference if they courteously remind golfers to keep up a reasonable pace. Also remember that large numbers of golfers are retired on many public courses and are likely to need a bit more time on each hole.

Mark Widoff
Austin, Texas

After putting, carry your putter to next hole (even when riding) and put it away at the next tee box when you grab your driver.

Sharon Ellis
Fairfield Glade, Tenn.

On the first, and maybe the 10th, tee have a huge sign recommending the appropriate tees to be played based on the player's average score, ability and/or handicap. Many golfers don't have a handicap and if they see their average score they may will play the appropriate tees. I would have the starters affirm the correct tees to be played as well.

Mark Whritner
San Diego, Calif.

Just came back from Florida where I played four rounds. One of the rounds took five hours to play. The worse part, there was no one ahead of my group. I was totally frustrated since I normally play a round in New Jersey, in the early mornings, on an average of 3 hours, 30 minutes.

Manny Ramalho
Colonia, N.J.

A couple of simple, obvious things. Before the round establish “play when ready” and don’t mark your ball on the green if it's not in the way.

Neil J. Brazitis Sr.
Bryn Mawr, Pa.

The first way to improve pace of play is for the USGA to discontinue setting such low expectations. One should be able to easily play in 4 hours and 20 minutes when walking. If riding 3 1/2 hrs is ample time and the majority of golf is now played riding. Give tee-time preferences to faster players. Put everyone on the clock and those who can’t keep up with the first group out won’t have access to early times. Golf isn’t a democracy, it’s a meritocracy.

Tom Williams
Georgetown, Texas

While it is human nature to get frustrated, I have tried over the years (with varying degrees of success) to not let it spoil my day. It's a game I love and is a good test for me to practice my relaxation techniques.

If there is a marshal around, I usually try to bring it up to him to try and rectify. There are several courses I play where I already know ahead of time slow play will not be dealt with — and so I tend to not frequent those courses as often.

One of the unique methods I have experienced in clubs dealing with slow play is what they call the Turtle Program. At the beginning of each round, the starter hands your group a card that indicates what time you should be finishing your round, including different times for different positions on the course. Members who don't keep to that schedule lose their ability to book further out and during favorite times.

I also make a point in not being part of the problem by:

1. Not marking the scorecard until I get to the next hole,
2. Putting the club away when I get to my next shot,
3. Not continually pulling the headcovers off and on. They stay in the basket or my bag until the end of the round.

Rochelle Winston Davies
SaddleBrooke, Ariz.

Pace of play is a problem from the grounds crew to the player and everyone in between. It is going to take a village to cure.

1. Stop with the Sunday at the Masters pin placements on a recreational weekend of golf. We are amateur golfers. By placing the pin in an inaccessible position you guarantee a three-putt or three shots minimum to get on the green.
2. Stop with the 200-yard par-three holes. Again, we are amateur golfers. By having par-3 holes at 200-plus yards, the hole is going to play like a par 4. Move the tee boxes up and speed up the pace. You can move them back for your tournaments and corporate events.
3. Slower groups have to let faster groups play through and rangers must be willing to enforce this golf course courtesy. I don’t care if the slow group contains the club’s president or local favorite or club champion. If they hold that position, then they should know better.

John Donovan
Big Lake, Minn.

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