‘Golf takes too long to play’
Two of the world’s greatest golfers and two of the most powerful people in the administration of the game have all warned that the future of golf is in jeopardy because the game can take too long to play.
The issue has got so serious that the head of England Golf has called for the average length of a round of golf to be halved to about two hours – meaning that a nine-hole format could become commonplace.
Luke Donald and Nicolas Colsaerts have both called on the game’s governing bodies to address the issue of slow golfers, while The R&A has accepted that the game ‘needs speeding up’.
Luke Donald warned that children could imitate slow golfers that they see on television.
“A lot of the juniors who are watching golf are picking up bad habits after seeing us taking our time,” said Donald.
“It’s down to the intricacies of the rules or people not being ready when it’s their turn – there are so many different factors but unfortunately it’s a reasonably big problem in the game.”
Nicolas Colsaerts added that slow play is a serious issue. “Something needs to be done. Most of the time you end up playing for over five hours and that’s not good enough,” he said.
The European Tour said 12 penalties were imposed last year on slow golfers.
Attempts to speed up golf was rated the number one trend in golf clubs last year, after a range of measures from television advertising to apps that time golfers’ rounds were brought in to tackle the issue, which has been cited as a major reason why potential golfers are put off from playing the game.
“The people we want to get to haven’t got four hours going spare and therefore we do have to have a two-hour version of the game,” said England Golf chief executive David Joy. “It would be great to have a nine-hole format that people could choose to play in.”
“It used to be that golf was a half-day activity,” added R&A chief executive Peter Dawson. “You could have breakfast with the family and be back home for lunch.
“But now it seems to have expanded into something that takes up two thirds of the day and I think it’s having a negative effect on participation – it needs speeding up.”