BGIA calls for UK-wide adoption of strategy to tackle slow play

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir August 25, 2017 08:08

The powerful British Golf Industry Association (BGIA) has called on every golf association in the UK to adopt The R&A’s programme ‘Ready Golf’, in a bid to tackle slow play.

Ready Golf is a series of guidelines designed for golfers that, if followed, should mean that their rounds of golf would be quicker. For example, it recommends that golfers play when they are ready to do so rather than strictly adhere to the requirement that the farthest player from the hole plays first.

The length of time it takes to play an 18-hole round of golf, especially when it is more than four hours, has been blamed on the fall in participation in the game in recent years.

“One of the BGIA’s aims is to support and champion growth and participation in golf,” said BGIA chair Philip Morley. “We, therefore, actively encourage the implementation of all solutions that address the issue of slow play, which hampers the enjoyment of golfers.

“We urge other associations to promote the idea that Ready Golf is just common sense; players should take a moment to evaluate, one practice swing and execute without delay when it’s their turn.”

BGIA executive board member and managing partner of Lynx Golf, Stephanie Zinser, added: “I’m in favour of anything that promotes faster play. If we are trying to encourage people to play golf, we need to dispel the time poverty argument and, therefore, this is something that should be advocated on as wide a basis as possible.”

Motocaddy’s Neil Parker, also a member of the BGIA executive board, echoed Zinser’s comments. “In my opinion all the UK golf associations should be actively encouraging the adoption of Ready Golf,” he said. “If the average round time could be reduced by even just 15 minutes, it would not only make it easier to attract new golfers to the game, it would also increase enjoyment for existing golfers, encouraging them to play more regularly. It will also help to increase capacity on busier courses.”

“We support solutions that address the issue of slow play and Ready Golf is an effective means of reducing the time it takes to complete a round,” said the R&A’s executive director of golf development, Duncan Weir. “Our research has shown that golfers would enjoy the sport more if it took less time to play.”

Philip Morley

Adopting Ready Golf, Ballyliffin Golf Club in Ireland, for example, has a list of general rules that are advertised to golfers. These are:

  • Keep up with the group in front.
  • If the group in front is on the fairway, your group should be on the tee.
  • Be ready to hit when the group in front moves to the next shot.
  • Whoever is ready plays when safe to do so, there are no honours.
  • Keep your pre-shot routine short – aim to play in 20 seconds.
  • If you are falling behind the group in front, let the group behind through.

There are also rules for the tees, fairways and greens.

On the tee:

  • No honours – hit when ready, and when it is safe to do so.
  • Shorter hitters should hit first if longer hitters are waiting.
  • Watch other players’ shots to avoid looking for balls.
  • Carry an extra ball in case you need a provisional.

On the fairway:

  • No honours – hit when ready, and when it is safe to do so.
  • Go directly to your ball and get ready to play – don’t wait until others have played.
  • Play then search. All players should hit, then assist in search.

On the green:

  • Park your clubs between the green and next tee.
  • Study your putt and repair pitchmarks while others are putting.
  • Be ready to putt before it is your turn.
  • First player to hole-out replaces the flag.
  • Continue putting until holed out – avoid marking.
  • Mark scores on the way to the next tee.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir August 25, 2017 08:08
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  1. Sapper September 5, 08:31

    I think slow play is more of a golfers attitude problem than a technique problem. Most golf club members know who their slow players are, it’s talked about often enough after another slow competition round, all golfers believe ‘they’ play at the right pace! but have you ever tried telling a slow player It was them who slowed the whole field up? It causes all sorts of problems from arguments to aggressive behaviour which know one wants as it can get in your head and spoil your own round!

    I think committees should be more active in monitoring slow play and punish offenders directly with the appropriate penalty points. This should start at the top, when was the last time you saw a professional golfer penalised for slow play!

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  2. Pete August 31, 18:53

    Here in the US we play an updated 18 hole round of golf in 2/12 – 3 hours walking, which is the norm, by simply converting the game & course to the new Hybrid “Lite-Play” golf ball designed for shorter courses and tee areas. It provides the same full traditional format in half the time & cost with less difficulty.
    We decided to restyle the pace, affordability & efficiency of the game, because we were losing so many golfers to other convenience minded sports.

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  3. Old golfer August 31, 18:26

    What credible research has been carried out to justify the theory that the time taken to play a round of golf is putting significant numbers of new entrants off the game?

    Golf club manufacturers need to look to their own marketing policies if they are not selling enough clubs. I’m sick of insupportable claims about improved club performance at astronomical prices coming out every few months.
    The latest adjustable shaft drivers are a case in point. The only tangible effect of rotating the shaft is to rotate the spine of the grip. In certain cases this is as much as 60 degrees per adjustment. Clearly this cannot be expected to turn a slice into a manageable draw.

    Ready golf is fine provided the urgency to play quickly doesn’t lead to danger to other groups or members of one’s own group.

    It is also important to bear in mind that the crack of a short hitter’s driver, which is not very different from that of a long hitter, will be a distraction (and a breach of the Etiquette) to a player in the group in front.

    It is a player’s right to mark a ball and observe the borrows of subsequent putts if he believes it will help.

    It may be off putting to a back marker if his playing partners are in front of him because it could be inhibiting or even intimidating.

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  4. Tony August 29, 13:55

    More common sense just not common practice. When golfers watch how long the Pro’s are allowed to take over each shot, there is little chance of a radical improvement. Coaching standards are not developing golfers who can self-analyse that are able to learn and improve as they play. Your thoughts Neville Gaunt

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  5. Andy August 25, 18:04

    The rules ( I prefer the term guidelines) for tees, fairways and greens at Ballyliffin Golf Club are very good. Perhaps they should be adopted at all golf clubs to help resolve the slow play issue and potentially the “time poor” excuse for reduction in participation.

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