Time, please: GUI lead mission for pace control
Pace of play is the focus of a new campaign from the Golfing Union of Ireland which aims to get players moving more efficiently around the golf course.
A common complaint among club golfers, the GUI is taking the lead on the thorny issue of slow play. During a week-long awareness campaign, the Union will highlight practical steps that clubs and players can take.
Last year, the GUI lead by example when ‘Ready Golf’ was introduced during round two of the AIG Irish Close Championship at Ballyliffin. Ready Golf – a term to indicate that players should play when they are ready to do so providing it is safe to do so, rather than adhering strictly to the ‘farthest from the hole plays first’ stipulation – saw round-times reduced by an average of 45 minutes.
As well as endorsing Ready Golf, the GUI have made use of forward tees and central hole locations to give players every opportunity to play as quickly as possible at their championships.
Although it seems like slow play is a modern phenomenon, history says otherwise. A report from the South of Ireland Amateur Championship of 1966, published by The Irish Times, reveals that players were taking up to five and a half hours to get around the course.
In response to complaints about pace of play in the modern game, The R&A undertook an extensive international survey of golfers and hosted a special conference at St Andrews entitled: Time for Golf. Professionals and administrators involved in golf at all levels were invited to the conference, which helped to bring about an official manual on the subject.
Research on pace of play has shown that overcrowding is the most common cause of rounds taking longer than necessary. Starting intervals should be as wide as possible – eight minutes for two balls and up to 12 minutes for four balls.
For players, Ready Golf is a common sense approach that will ensure the game flows as smoothly as possible. For example, shorter hitters play first from the tee or fairway if longer hitters have to wait.
The majority of golfers report that they would enjoy the game more if it took less time to play. More to the point, there are few players who enjoy playing slowly. Pace of play affects clubs when it comes to securing repeat business and retention of members.
There are a variety of reasons for wanting to improve pace of play and there are a number of ways of achieving this goal. The GUI’s latest campaign will educate players and clubs alike.
TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT PACE OF PLAY – See www.golfnet.ie/paceofplay