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Pace of Play

You know the feeling - waiting...every...shot...

Pace of play is a topic every year for golf and golf leagues and it's not a recent phenomenon.  Brooks Koepka has some words for JB Holmes in the Open Championship, and Lee Trevino was complaining about it 30 years ago.

The argument I always hear is "golf shouldn't take more than X number of hours".  And that's the problem, putting an absolute limit on every golf course is a non-starter.  If I play my local muni, a good "pace" is under 2 hours for 9 holes, but go to the course 20 minutes away, and 2:20 is a good pace.  The difficulty of the course and even just the distance from greens to the next tee easily add that time to the round.

So how do you know what is the "right" pace, and what can you do about it?

A guy named Bill Yates developed the USGA Pace of Play policy, and he was an expert on why the pace might be an issue, and what to do about it (sidenote: Bill passed away in 2018).

He founded a company called "Pace Systems" and consulted with golf courses to improve their pace.  Take a look at the Pace of Play Manual if you want to really geek out, but the highlights are this:

  • Management practices
  • Player behavior
  • Player ability
  • The course design
  • The course setup

What can YOU do with your league?  Implement some rules about picking up after a certain number of strokes, scheduler the slower players near the back of the field, and encourage your players with some pace of play tips.  

However, you'll notice 3 of the 5 items above are not player related, they are management and course related.  For example, putting too many people on the course at one time with tee time intervals which are too close together is a recipe for a slow pace.  Much like a very crowded highway, there's nowhere to go.  If one driver taps his breaks, that ripples through the line of cars.

The same thing happens on the golf course when groups are too tightly packed.  When a group has a slow hole (and a group WILL have a slow hole), their couple extra minutes ripples throughout the field until there's a gap between groups.

This is very evident if you've ever played in a charity scramble where there's a shotgun start, and the course is saturated with two groups on every hole. Everybody is following everybody else, and all you do is wait.  

Encourage your course to take a look at the Pace of Play Manual below, and here's a couple of great videos with Bill Yates talking about Pace of Play:

Bill Yates Australian Visit

Bill Yates on the Golf Channel

Bill Yates Pace of Play Manual