US to tackle slow play

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 14, 2013 05:07 Updated

US to tackle slow play

The authority that runs golf in the USA is to dramatically address the pace of play issue that it says is hurting the health of golf venues.

A survey last year found that 90 per cent of British golfers want to complete a round in less than four hours, but 41 per cent of rounds take longer than that. More than a fifth of golfers said that the length of time it takes to play a round was so serious that it could deter them from playing the game, and only 15 per cent of golfers feel that golf clubs are doing anything about it.

The United States Golf Association (USGA), the American equivalent of The R&A, is so concerned about the issue that is to introduce a raft of measures to ‘identify challenges and solutions regarding pace of play’.

It will develop a pace-of-play model based on quantifiable data, improve its ‘pace rating’ system and offer on-site assistance at golf courses to help assess and improve pace of play. It will also analyse green-to-tee walks and course layouts including green speeds and hole locations, and it will examine how tee times are distributed, create player education programmes and promote nine-hole golf.

“The cry that pace of play has become one of the most significant threats to the game’s health has become only louder over the last year,” said USGA president Glen Nager. “Industry research clearly shows that slow play and the amount of time it takes to play a round of golf detract from the overall experience and threaten to drive players away from the game.”

USGA executive director Mike Davis added: “Slow play is incompatible with our modern society, in which our personal time for recreation is compressed. This is an issue that demands our complete attention.”

The news comes as an American tee-time provider,, has revealed that it generated £2.3 million for golf courses via its ‘Let’s Play 9’ initiative in 2012, in which many 18-hole venues sold nine-hole tee times.

The company said it sold 225,000 rounds, for slots early in the morning, late in the afternoon and during evenings or weekends, for time-conscious golfers.

Spokesman Jeff Foster said: “Some people don’t have time for a traditional 18-hole round. Nine-hole rounds appeal to a large segment of golfers and can represent a significant revenue opportunity for operators.”

Earlier this year the chief executive of The R&A urged British golf clubs to offer something shorter than 18 holes of golf in order to attract new players.

“A full round of 18 holes is, and will no doubt continue to be, the norm, but our hectic business and family lives often mean less time for recreation,” said Peter Dawson.

“This is where golf facilities offering a less time consuming and costly alternative can be an effective way of introducing new players to our sport and of retaining their interest and participation in the future.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 14, 2013 05:07 Updated
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  1. 19th Hole Social (@19th_holesocial) February 14, 06:27

    #Golf #Panthersocial US to tackle slow play – The authority that runs golf in the USA is to dramatically address the…

    Reply to this comment
  2. Golfing Journalist (@AlDunsmuir) February 14, 08:24

    Golf authority thinks the long time length it takes to play a round is so damaging to the game that it’s taking action

    Reply to this comment
  3. @kevmunt February 14, 09:01

    20 yrs to deal with slow play! Change it now. Once ball found 1 minute to hit it #golfgetonwithit

    Reply to this comment
  4. @EnfieldGC February 14, 11:58

    » US to tackle slow play

    Reply to this comment
  5. Adrian Stiff February 14, 12:17

    I have no doubts slow play is a big issue, I have never yet seen any idea that will really cure it, the things that promote faster play are shorter courses, courses with flatter greens, no bunkers, no rough, perhaps no hazards, 12, 15 hole courses. That is not what people want though. The main reason for slow play is some people just take more care, (you see plus 15 or 20 minutes on most club medals) and some decide fairly quickly on club selection, the line of putt, don’t have a 20 second pre shot routine, some bad players play fast and most great players are actually slow. You can walk around a golf course in 1 hour, short courses might be 50 minutes, long ones 70 minutes, so everything on top of 1 hour is the playing and waiting. What is suprising is how much time in 18 holes you spend actually on the green and a lot of that time is waiting for your partners to mark their ball (often three times) clean their ball, line up their putt, line up their ball. With a rule change that you can only mark your ball once, I think you could knock some significant time off. Any rule change needs a lot of thought in changing the structure of the game, penalising slow play could be done on big tours but very hard for club golf. This is a real tricky problem, maybe with no nice cure.

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  6. dave sargeant February 14, 18:27

    The main reason for slow play is players are never redy when its their turn to play.all.ll playets should have this drummed into them more so new golfers
    and make sure juniors have a good grounding

    Reply to this comment
  7. Anthony Haste (@AnthonyHastePGA) February 19, 15:24

    @PhilADawson here’s an article on pace of play.

    Reply to this comment
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