USGA and Troon ‘educate’ slow play golfers25th July, 2013 by Alistair Dunsmuir
The United States Golf Association (USGA) and Troon Golf, the world’s largest owner of golf clubs, have both launched separate educational programmes to tackle slow play in golf, featuring the likes of Clint Eastwood and Tiger Woods. Both organisations hope to make slow golfers aware of the problems they can cause.
A survey of British golfers last year found that a majority take longer than they would like to complete a round of golf, with more than a fifth saying that this even deters them from playing at all. Several also stated that they didnt think golf’s administrators are doing enough to deal with the issue.
In the USA the situation is even worse – more than 90 percent of golfers are bothered by it, and more than half have left the course early because their rounds were taking too long.
The main cause of golfers’ delays on the course is the slow pace of play of golfers in front of them, meaning they have to wait until other players are out of the way before they can take their shots. However, course design and setup also contribute to slow play.
The USGA, the governing body of golf for the USA and Mexico, has enlisted Hollywood actor and director Clint Eastwood, golfers Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Annika Sorenstam and Paula Creamer, and coach Butch Harmon, to create a number of videos under the branding ‘While We’re Young’. They will be shown as television advertisements in the USA during golf tournaments this summer, and can be seen here on a new website marketed by the USGA, The PGA of America, the LPGA, the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) and regional golf associations in the USA.
For example, one of the videos shows Clint Eastwood dithering over whether to use a pitching wedge or a nine iron, until Arnold Palmer appears behind him and, borrowing a line from the 1980′s film Caddyshack, shouts “Hey! While we’re young… Please.”
The new website also invites golfers and club managers to sign a pledge to take personal measures to improve pace of play.
Those who take the pledge will be enrolled in the USGA ‘Pace of Play Education Program’, which includes videos, quizzes and other resources that cover the fundamental causes and solutions to slow play from both a player and golf club perspective, including height of cut and pin placements. Once the education programme is completed, participants will receive a downloadable certificate acknowledging their role as a ‘pace of play ambassador’.
In addition to the campaign, the USGA has introduced a Pace of Play Resource Center on its website also for players and golf club managers. This provides information about pace of play, including case studies and best practices on ways golf clubs can address factors such as hole length, routing, green speeds, rough height and operations to improve pace of play. The site also provides tips for individual golfers seeking to expand their knowledge of the issue and improve their own playing habits, including information on alternative formats like nine-hole rounds that take less time to play.
Meanwhile, Troon Golf, which owns more than 200 golf courses around the world, has implemented a new programme at its facilities which are also aimed at speeding up play.
The ‘Troon Values Your Time’ programme communicates a pace-of-play standard to golfers, which details to them how long the round should take before they have teed off, gives priority tee times in the morning to quicker golfers and offers education to golfers regarding which tees they should use, how long they should prepare a shot for, where to drive golf buggies on the course, how long they should look for lost balls for, what to do while others are putting and so on.
“Although our industry has tried to address pace of play for decades, we believe the issue can only be addressed successfully if we collaboratively pursue solutions that consider the full set of factors that influence pace – the actions of golfers, the ways we design and manage golf courses and the influence of the elite competitive game,” said USGA executive director Mike Davis.
“Our new campaign illustrates the USGA’s energetic and action-oriented approach to pursuing worthwhile endeavours that serve the best interests of the game moving forward.”
USGA president Glen D. Nager added: “Slow play poses an increasingly significant threat to participation of golf. Golf is supposed to be fun and standing around on the course saps the fun out of it. Our campaign is fun and is a rallying cry for the public – to show the golfing industry that we want a faster game.”
“With time being such a precious commodity today, slow play on the golf course remains one of the industry’s major impediments of growth,” said Ryan Walls, Troon Golf’s senior vice president, operations, sales and marketing.
“This is why we are implementing standards at Troon-managed facilities that define pace-of-play expectations to ultimately remove a barrier that exists in the game and improve the experience of our guests and members.”