A recent article on the Golfplan blog intrigued me into writing a response.
The blog, "Has Golf Lost Its Enjoyment Factor As It Has Gotten Slower", says that the result of golfers taking longer to play a course is sapping the enjoyment out of the game. So true, I thought as I began thinking back to rounds that seemed to last forever.
As I can only speak about my amateur golf experience, I would like to comment solely on my participation in the game and leave professional opinions to the pros.
I am personally not a slow player but I'm not Speedy Gonzalez either.
I try to take a few moments before stepping up to my ball at the tee box to assess each hole.
I do my pre-shot routine and then I'm off to locate my ball. Lucky for me I'm a pretty boring golfer...as my husband puts it ..."fairways and greens" ...but speed of play, in my opinion can be a double-edged sword.
If my golf ball is in the woods (rarely, ahem), I take a few moments to search for it (as per the Rules of Golf).
If I find my little smiley-faced ball, great. If not, I take a drop, penalize myself and move on.
Do I always go back to the tee box to take another swing?
Well... if I'm not in competition and there are players right behind me, then no...I will simply drop a ball and assess the appropriate penalty after alerting my playing partners that, in the interest of time, I will take a drop.
Is that legal? No, but it sure is the right thing to do when there is a crowd of golfers approaching you from behind! I want to make sure that everyone on the golf course moves along at a fair pace.
Unfortunately, a backlog creates a lot of angry golfers and yes, slow play impinges upon the enjoyment of the game...if you allow it.
I believe (and hope) that this is how many amateur golfers handle their shots during a round. Most folks don't realize that they have slowed down nor do they believe that they are slowing down the course pace which, in my opinion, is due to a few factors:
* lack of experience
* on vacation
* ingrained bad habits
* just don't care
The vacation problem happened to Barry and me on an executive golf course at Tupelo Bay in Myrtle Beach. Two golfers(?) directly in front of us decided to stop and feed the squirrels! We decided it was best to simply move to the next hole and wound up not playing eighteen. My sanity was preserved and, although we did not play the full round, we did not allow the slow players to interfere with our positive experience. We could have easily driven our cart back to the hole later in the game.
Much slower players beyond what is acceptable also creates the better golfer to be out of his (or her) rhythm. Bad shots can be hit while getting cold not to mention that, if you hit a bad shot due to this circumstance, you spend even more time searching for lost balls slowing the pace. Or, when out with your buddies playing competitively (Nassau anyone?), it is very difficult not to be upset with the group one or two holes away upsetting the pace of play thus messing with your wager and your mind!
Slow play is certainly not going to make me stop playing the game, so I am finding ways to deal with it.
What did we do while we were waiting for the group ahead to play their tee shot?
On occasion, we noticed that the group behind us lagged a bit as well so we took a few more putts on our green and practiced! Practicing your short game is the key to scoring low.
It is true that, on most days, a four-and-a half hour round of golf is entirely too long to be out on a golf course. By the time you drive to the course, play the round and, of course, visit the 19th hole, you have spent the entire day away from your family and responsibilities.
I agree that the time-sapping event of slow play does take the enjoyment out of a very enjoyable sport. But, the opposite can also be true. We don't want to have rangers rush us around the course without being able to take the time needed to look at a putt line or stand at the tee box to visualize our shot to set up the hole in our minds eye. In my opinion, there has to be a compromise.
One good saying that everyone should pay attention to before and during their rounds? Notice the notes posted on every golf cart window - keep pace with the group in front of you, not with the group behind you!
Do you play golf at a snail's pace? Have you had to play behind a snail? Seems that everyone has-what did you do to deal with it?
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Photo credit: worth1000.com, http://twistedcartoonist.blogspot.com/2010_12_01_archive.html