The game of golf has changed immensely over the years. While the conditions are still beautiful, we have high-tech golf equipment, balls that go further, and increasingly difficult and longer courses. Perhaps one of today’s changes that has caused golfers to reminisce about the good ol’ days is the pace of play. It is often argued that a round of golf takes too much time.
Why is play so slow? It used to take three to three and a half hours to play. Today it takes close to five hours. No one seems to know for certain, but my best guess is television. When you watch golf tournaments on TV and see players not ready to play when it is his turn or see him vacillate over club selection, it is not difficult to see why play time has increased over the years.
John Gerring always taught that the player should be ready when it is his turn to play. Moreover, he preached “don’t think too much or you will probably mess it up.” Your first instinct, in most cases, is correct. Keep it simple and do not overthink. The famous sports psychologist Dr. Morris Pickens talks about making your plan as you approach your shot. Be ready to play! Take a practice swing and hit your shot.
To reduce the pace of play today, the United States Golf Association (USGA) has instituted a pace of play rule. It is a good idea, but was it necessary 30 years ago? Golf was played with “eyeballing” the shot or notes from a practice round. In those days, a good caddy had all the information you needed. Gradually, everything in golf has gotten bigger and longer. When the difficulty and length of the golf courses increased, it logically followed that it would take more time to play. The subject of slow play brings all golfers together, and everyone associated with the game understands that slow play is killing the enjoyment of the game and its levels of participation.
What’s the solution? There’s no shortage of suggestions. Everyone has an opinion. Who is responsible for slow play? We all are! Everyone involved in the game contributes in some small (or large) way to the pace of play. It’s not just the other guy. We will only make improvements when we band together and recognize that we are all a part of the problem, and, therefore, all a part of the solution. I think the most obvious starting point as an individual is to heed the advice of John Gerring – keep it simple and always be ready to hit when it is your turn.