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In search of answers to improve pace of play

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I loved playing college golf, but hated the 5 hour and 30 minute rounds.

Pace of Play is an epidemic in golf and the biggest players—the PGA of America, USGA, and AJGA—have all taken strides to quell this dilemma that legitimately threatens the health of golf. Let’s take a look at the good and bad of some of golf’s Pace of Play campaigns and try to find a way to get folks playing #ReadyGolf, the most logical way to pick up the pace #WhileWereYoung.

Did #WhileWereYoung Work?

While I highly respect The USGA and Annika’s use of humor to raise the awareness for Pace of Play, #WhileWereYoung doesn’t hit on an execution of a policy for speeding up play. Even though we’re at the tail end of #WhileWereYoung, I’m not quite sure how the success campaign was measured. From a social media standpoint, 86 tweets have included #WhileWereYoung in the last 30 days (check it out on Topsy, a free tool). Given the media and production spend on #WhileWereYoung campaign, I would imagine that the USGA would want more golfer engagement with the hashtag.

Please click the #WhileWereYoung hashtag to see how golfers currently use #WhileWereYoung. If you don’t know what a # is or have a twitter account, consider setting one up using this free Introductory Golf Twitter Guide and join the conversation.

Golf Policemen?

SpeedPolice

I can’t image any Millennial-aged golfers assigning someone in their group to be a policeman as Martin Hall suggests (Holly Sonders, however, gets a police pass). But in all seriousness, Hall misses the same two crucial factors as does #WhileWereYoung: incentives and enforcement capabilities. Perhaps Martin would have gone on to say that the policeman in the group would avoid, say, a $25 greens fee surplus if his group finished in less than 4 hours and 15 minutes. Technology could easily be used to monitor when someone graces the first tee and leaves the 18th green, thereby dictating if the golfers will get a savings or face a slow-play fee.

Golf Channel’s Relaxed Rules of Golf

Relaxed-Rules-640

The Golf Channel is making serious progress with its recent release of the Relaxed Rules of golf. According to the second Relaxed Rule, all penalties are one stroke such that all stakes—red, white, yellow, or green—are played with the same one-stroke penalty. I love this concept because the stroke and distance penalty for hitting the ball out of bounds is too stern in my opinion. I brought up the idea to implement this one-stroke penalty (just for white stakes) for the National Collegiate Club Golf Association (NCCGA), but my student leadership team shot the idea down to my chagrin. Despite my team’s disagreement with me on Relaxed Rule #2, we already have implemented Relaxed Rule #1, the double par rule, in official NCCGA competition.

AJGA Card-Based Pace of Play Policy

AJGApaceofplay

Quite possibly the biggest success story in tangible pace of play improvements has been that of the AJGA. I had the chance to chat with Andrew Greenfield, the association’s Vice President of Tournament Operations, who explained:

“After years of a reactionary system, where by the time we were timing players it was too late, the AJGA set to develop a proactive system to combat pace of play. The checkpoint-based system took some getting used to as the onus was placed on the players and the group as a whole to know where they stood in relation to overall time and their position with the group ahead. One of the benefits of the current pace of play policy is that it creates more fairness between groups teeing off throughout the day by allowing them to finish in similar time increments. The AJGA continues to objectively look at pace of play, even with the success it has achieved, in order to strive to improve with each event.”

The AJGA’s policy has been effective because the card-aspect of the penalty is tangible and the incentives to hit your pace of play marks are real and readily evident. The fact that the AJGA has ample volunteer support and a highly trained and motivated group of traveling interns does not hurt their cause either. Nonetheless, and despite all of the AJGA’s great successes in speeding up pace of play, some competitors and parents have had negative experiences with the policy demonstrating how challenging it is to make Pace of Play improvements in golf.  

Pace of Play in the NCAA

NCAAPaceOfPlay

One of the challenges the NCAA faces in monitoring pace of play is the different types of golf that take place across various Divisions and Conferences. The four-man shotgun format we often used in the D3 NESCAC is much different than what one would find in a SEC tournament. The AJGA, for a lack of a better example, offers a “tournament in a box” where traveling interns, volunteers, spectators, and sponsors seamlessly flow together like the golf game’s of many of the AJGA’s  bright young stars. While the highest levels of NCAA varsity golf have the necessary infrastructure to monitor Pace of Play effectively, keeping Pace of Play enforcement and regulations across the spectrum of Divisions is a serious challenge.

Todd Satterfield, former President of the Golf Coaches Association of America and current Varsity Golf Coach at Furman explained that:

“Pace of play is a major problem with golf at all levels and It is definitely a problem in college golf.  I do think it is more of a problem now than it was 20 years ago. The NCAA Golf Committee has been very proactive in addressing the issue, in fact, there have been some pace of play penalties handed down at recent NCAA Championships. They use a check point system similar to the AJGA and USGA. Most of the problem is with the regular season events where the time par is set somewhere between 4 hours and 30 minutes and 4 hours and 45 minutes, but we all know that is not met most of the time so that ends up with rounds of 5+ hours.”   
As for how we should improve pace of play, Todd stated:
“There are multiple things that can be done but I don’t think that just one thing will make a difference, it’s a combination of things.—Too much sport psychology – pace play policies that are set up for failure – format that we play – course set up – teaching them how to play faster – etc. Pace of play is something I am very passionate about.  It’s a problem at all levels of competition and recreational play.”

What is #ReadyGolf?

#ReadyGolf is a pace of play campaign the NCCGA is launching this fall that will utilize the the card-based system pioneered by the AJGA to speed up tournament golf. It takes the AJGA’s physical reminder of slow play (a yellow or red card) and combines that with an awareness effort similar to the USGA’s #WhileWereYoung. Think about how much faster tournament golf would be if we seriousuly played #ReadyGolf. Instilling this mantra — that one should play when they are ready — is at the core of the NCCGA’s new policy.

As for the mechanics of #ReadyGolf, groups are given a yellow card (1-stroke penalty) by falling behind the preceding group with the following criteria:

  • While on a par 3, the next group has cleared the next tee.
  • While on a par 4, the next group has cleared the green.
  • While on a par 5, the next group is on the green.

Fail to close the gap within three holes and your group receives a red card (two-stroke penalty). Fail to close the gap thereafter and you are subject to be disqualified. But what if the group in front of me is flying with three players and we have four struggling players? All Yellow and Red Card penalties can be avoided if a group turns in their scorecard within 5 hours and 15 minutes of teeing off.

In past semesters, the NCCGA has struggled massively with pace of play as they never had the staff or volunteer support to monitor and execute their policies. That will change this fall as Matt Brugner, NCCGA Vice President and leading member of the spring 2014 National Championship Baylor Club Golf Team, will be reaching out to State and Regional Golf Associationsto see if their volunteers can help enforce #ReadyGolf to pick up the pace #WhileWereYoung. Even if you’re not a rules of golf expert but are interested in volunteering at any of our 50+ fall NCCGA tournaments, please fill out this tournament volunteer form and Matt will be in touch.

John Brooks, CEO at Red Numbers Golf and adviser to many college golfers, explained:

“The entire golf community, including the USGA, PGA of America, PGA TOUR, AJGA,  NCAA Golf, and now the NCCGA, has committed to developing and implementing the most effective pace-of-play policies possible.  This is an ongoing process and one that requires modifications depending on the classification of players competing in a particular tournament or tour.  The increased awareness and discussion on the need to play golf at a faster pace should lead to tangible, measurable improvements.”

To sum up how I feel about slow play:

I sincerely thank the USGA and Golf Channel for raising awareness with their respective #WhileWereYoung and #RelexedRules campaigns. Awareness is a first step in helping us execute #ReadyGolf with the NCCGA this fall.

If you have opinions on ways we can incentivize more people to play #ReadyGolf, I respectfully ask that you share your opinions on twitter using #ReadyGolf. We @Nextgolfer and @NCCGA will share your ideas—however crazy they are—with both competitive and recreational Millennial golfers to pick up the pace #WhileWereYoung and explore implementing more #RelaxedRules.

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Mike Belkin is a Co-Founder of Nextgengolf & Director of College Golfer Happiness. Mike played varsity golf at Amherst College, currently resides in Boston, and is passionate about growing the game for millennials. Contact Mike on Twitter @MikeBelkin11 or [email protected]

195 Comments

195 Comments

  1. John

    Feb 4, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    Mr. Maiden, you seem like a self appointed authority. Have you really played golf? Back in New York where I play you would be fired if you were a golf pro.

  2. Lee Maiden

    Nov 13, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Finally, all these good playing habits are great! Wish everyone were taught these habits from day one, but not. It doesn’t matter what you do out there, practice swings, sitting in the cart while your riding partner plays, (when I play with someone new and this happens I will enlighten them hopefully without coming off as rude). However the solution is simple, You must stay up with the group in front, period!

    • MANthrax

      Nov 19, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      What if the group in front is 3 scratch member players and you have 4 weekend warriors new to the course?

      • Lee Maiden

        Nov 24, 2014 at 1:59 pm

        They may be the slow players. You need to stay up no matter what, miss it quickly.

  3. Ken

    Nov 3, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    Slow play is really not the problem … to each his own there, it’s the ‘never letting players through’ problem that has us in a bind.

    • MANthrax

      Nov 19, 2014 at 3:46 pm

      What if the course doesn’t pair players to make 4 somes? Now my 4 some has to play a 6 hour round letting all deuces play through?

  4. Matt

    Oct 13, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    They can put any phrase they want – it won’t work. The problem is the players and their respective egos. Case in point, my Dad and I were in Florida last week and got behind a slow foursome. We knew that there was a single two holes ahead and, after convincing my Dad to skip them, the foursome apologized for slowing us down. Granted they didn’t even look back one time to even offer us to play through. Come to find out they were course employees! If employees of the course won’t even lead by example, what hope does the average player have?

    Golf is a great sport and I love it, but the problem is that the people who play it are, by and large, egotistical and consider someone playing through (or teeing it forward) a sign of weakness. Slow play will always be a problem no matter what the PGA or the individual course tries to do about it. And that’s too bad.

  5. Mad-Mex

    Sep 25, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    Move tee’s up, white become blue, white become red,,,, stop placing the pins in tourney positions, only 3 pin positions, 3 paces back from center and 3 paces front from center,,,

    • Larry

      Oct 4, 2014 at 5:39 pm

      I am a 2 hcp, why should you make me play the white distant? Why don’t you learn to play better instead?

      • Mad-Mex

        Nov 12, 2014 at 12:42 am

        And I bet you mark 1 foot putts,,,, elitist are also part of the problem golf has, bet you just “hate” when they place a hack in your group?!?! Am a 9.5 and welcome “hacks” since I was there once,,,,

    • Ben

      Oct 6, 2014 at 8:02 am

      Slow play = here is the answer to stop this cancer.

      1. Walk faster.
      2. Look at your ball and mark it when landing.
      3. When chipping = take putter with. (Don’t have to walk up and down for nothing)
      4. Prepare and read your put when partners are putting.
      5. Do you really have to read that 3-5 footer put for minutes after palying the course every weekend for the last 20 years?
      6. Do you really have to tell that joke when everyone is on the T box and fairway open?
      7. Playing the same course for years do you really have to think for 2 minutes which club to hit?
      8. Do you really have to measure every distance when there are markers all over the course and playing the course fore the last years and your handicap is 18? 3 of 5 yards difference will definitely not make you a pro!
      9. Do you really have to look for 2 minutes what the GPS said?
      10. Really do you need to make 3 practice shots every time and then slice it again in the woods?

      The game should be easy , take a club T it up hit it walk straight and fast to your ball, in the same time get a distance and line. Pick a club hit it and walk straight and fast to where the ball is. Stop telling jokes and talk nonsense, leave that for the 19th.

  6. Greg

    Sep 20, 2014 at 10:56 am

    The facts are basic.

    It only takes one group to back up an entire golf course.

    Teachers need to emphasize pre-shot routine should be one practice swing and hit the ball.

    Ready golf- When you get to your ball and no one else is hitting – HIT IT.

    Putt when ready.

    Keep the jokes and family stories for the 19th hole.

    Shorter rough and wider fairways.

    A little slower greens

    3 hour rounds are very possible for 4-somes with carts. I did it with my group for over 30 years week after week. ( Yes we tee’d off first and no one was holding us up. )

    While you are relaxing and enjoying a leisurely round of golf everyone else is waiting on theirs.

    Unless you are a single digit handicapper don’t buy ProV1’s so you can afford to lose a ball and not spend 10 minutes looking for a $4+ ball.

    First person to the tee hits.

    Pick up when you reach your handicap limit of strokes on a hole.

    If you are over 60 and a 18 or higher handicap hit one more club then you normally would on any shot over 125 yards. Example hit a 6 instead of a 7, hit a 3 wood instead of a hybrid. Record each round the number of shot to a green that were short. You will be surprised how big the number will be each round. Hitting one less shot per hole will speed up play.

    Try not to group 4 high handicap players together

    Lastly golf can be a relaxing and fun time with a little common sense and a simpler set of rules for amateur golfers. A couple of ideas for 18 and above that would improve their day
    Improved lies everywhere
    Play the forward tee’s ( they are not just for ladies )
    Gimmies within putter length.
    Any type of putter
    Any putting stance ( between your legs is ok. aka Sam Snead )
    Any number of clubs is ok.

    The rules of golf are great for “competition” but for the average senior player and the inexperienced the important thing is to enjoy the game and move along so you can get to the 19th hole and tell those stories.

    • Larry

      Oct 4, 2014 at 5:46 pm

      sorry, I’m over 60, I worked hard, retired and I will take my sweet time. You don’t like it. Go to another course.

      • Matt

        Oct 13, 2014 at 2:18 pm

        And you sir, are the problem. It’s precisely that kind of attitude and this is why slow play is a problem. The mind set that “…I can do anything I want…” This is why this will always be a problem – people like you.

        • Ken

          Nov 3, 2014 at 4:10 pm

          Absolutely nothing wrong with taking your sweet time – just let faster players through, especially on the par 3’s!

      • Lee Maiden

        Nov 13, 2014 at 9:40 am

        Are you also the one in the left hand lane doing the speed limit and holding everyone up, because you can, which by the way is a moving violation that is not enforced. As far as having the rude discourteous attitude on the golf course, if you were on my course with that attitude you would be removed!

    • Brian

      Nov 6, 2014 at 4:47 pm

      Everybody I play with is a high-handicapper and our foursome can consistently play rounds between 3 & 4 hours…so the high handicap group is unfairly blamed. We can be bad at golf and still play quickly.

      It took us 6+ hours one time because the 2some that was 2 groups ahead seemingly took forever for each shot.

  7. James

    Sep 18, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    5+ hr rounds are norm in Southern California where I play. I got used to it and lowered my expectations accordingly.

    If you live and play in Southern California like me and want to play faster,

    1. Play in the rain.
    2. Join private club.
    3. Play during the weekdays.
    4. Play before the sun comes up with grow in the dark balls.
    5. Avoid courses that allow 5 somes.
    6. Play courses that are far away.

    Hackers don’t bother me as much since all of us have been a hacker at one point but the following group of people do bother me even if they’re keeping up with the group in front of them.

    1. People who drove short on lengthy par 5 but waiting for greens to clear so they can go for it.
    2. Not sure how much money that they’re playing for but group that takes forever to putt out.
    3. Most likely same group as #2 but takes forever to look for errand shots.
    4. People with lengthy preshot routine.

  8. Mason808

    Sep 16, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Unless there is an upcoming tournament, depending on region, the rough should be cut so that top of half of ball can be seen (reduce time to locate ball). Course should post clearly that golfers in a certain handicap range similar to GHIN ESC score that once that number is exceeded on the fairway to pick up ball and proceed to the green. Gimmes are allowed if putts are in the “leather” even though it is for money after all it is a gentlemen’s game. When a person is given a putt, they should not putt out and if they insist on putting and miss, then the stroke will count. Finally golfers who do not drive 200 yards should not be waiting to hit their next shot when they are over 200 yards away from the green.

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 17, 2014 at 9:24 am

      I wonder if courses would be willing to cut all of the rough and keep it short given the excess cost?

  9. tommy

    Sep 12, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    Just have all courseshave rates available for 6, 12, or 18 holes. 2 options < 4 hours and then the full game. Bam. done.

  10. Dave

    Sep 10, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    I think slow play is the biggest issue in golf for golfers who love the game and have done the work to develop respectable skills. I’m not sure what the ultimate answer is, but better marshalling seems like the easiest and most effective fix. Establish a pace of play for every course, make the players aware of it, and enforce it strenuously.

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 17, 2014 at 9:30 am

      Better marshalling is important, but the problem is that marshalls cost money and courses are trying to cut back. I’d rather incentivize players to speed up and have the time they take to play affect the price they pay for a greens fee.

      • Greg

        Sep 20, 2014 at 10:08 am

        Marshals at the course I play get payed with free golf when there is an open tee time after 2pm.

  11. Dave

    Sep 10, 2014 at 6:26 am

    I put it down to the course management by the people running the course.
    Down right greed when you get down to it.
    There should be a timer that starts when the party have all driven from the tee.
    No other party can start until the clock has run down. Eight minutes is standard I believe for the time gap between booking tee times.
    More than once I have had a good round of golf ruined on the enjoyment side of things by the idiot in the hut letting a group out only 4-5 mins behind my group.
    You end up feeling rushed which leads to poor shots or shot selection, this then means you take more shots and so longer to clear the hole.
    It also means that by the 12th usually there are 4-5 groups waiting to tee off.This makes letting people through impracticable and moot.
    Golf is a LEISURE hobby if you are in a rush you are in the wrong place.

  12. jeff

    Sep 9, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    just cut the rough to fairway grass height level! no more searching for balls

  13. CD

    Sep 7, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    I’ve never played in the USA but if five hour rounds are the norm count me out. 4 hours is slow. And that is not rushing and off 6500 yards.

    1. No practise swings
    2. Faster groups MUST be allowed through.
    3. Ball marking is not allowed
    4. Play when you are ready.

    I can not stand ‘I would let you through, but there’s a group ahead’. SO WHAT? I’ll take my chances.

    And if you cause the group behind to wait, AT ALL, from inside 250, invite the group through immediately. Nothing worse than a group thinking you can’t hit the green when it is well in range.

  14. ROON

    Sep 7, 2014 at 5:44 am

    We don’t play ready golf. We play “everyone hit simultaneously, unless dangerous” golf. Every person is ready to hit their shot at the same time. As soon as first person hits, the next person hits immediately, and so on. No reason to watch others golf balls, they know where they hit it. Typically we have at least 2 balls in air at any time, sometimes 4 or 5. It takes less than 1 minute for all players to hit shots. Putting works the same way, before first person’s putt finishes, you putt (then make player 1 reach down and get ur ball out of the hole). All putts inside of leather in putter r good. Pick up and go to cart.
    Additionally, never wait for ur ball to land. Get in the cart and move. It will be there when u get there. Trust me. This whole “spectacular event” while fun to watch takes only 2.5-3 hrs. We play 6500 yds and typically play with no unless than 5 people and we play with music. Give it a try. Teeing off at 8am and being home before 11am makes ur wife really happy. Trust me again 🙂

    • Lee Maiden

      Nov 13, 2014 at 9:52 am

      Pretty good. I thought I was the fastest player on the planet. I never thought I would tell someone your policies are too severe, but I want to play with you. I play in a foursome, we play in three hours and don’t rush. We all watch the balls until they are down but then the next player hits in less than 15 seconds and so on. I applaud your efforts.

  15. Paul

    Sep 6, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    Changing the rules will only impact people who play by the rules. So no need to change penalties or the color of stakes to help the pace. Signage on the course will speed up play.

    If there is a long par three, short par four, or short par five; they should all have signs near the approach/tee and greens stating a stand aside rule. Once all players are on the putting surface; mark and let the group waiting behind to wail away. Once they all hit, putt out and proceed to the next hole. This would be a huge help for the unfortunate courses that have bottlenecks in their layout; i.e. longer fast playing holes followed by short/reachable holes. Signs at the ninth tee box explaining the fact that you don’t have time to stop for lunch would be a huge help. Of course the phone number to the shack at the turn to phone in an order and have it ready is a must for everyone to be happy. And lets make scorecards and/or tee signs more informative. If your course has blind tee shots or OB within reach, let the customers know. If you want to make some money from a yardage book with this information, roll it into the cost of golf. A foursome could split the $5–20 cost to all be informed.

    Slow down the greens. I’m calling bullsh*t on anyone who says they putt better on fast greens. The only benefit of faster greens is that most amateurs don’t leave it short. Statistically all golfers put worse on faster greens. Just because the USGA wants the U.S. Open winner to be at even par doesn’t mean your club championship has to be the same. All participants would leave much happier shooting close to or under their average.

    Finally, just because the course has tees that stretch out to 7,600 yards, it doesn’t meant you have to use them. Set them forward and rope off the harder tees to avoid amateurs attempting to “challenge” themselves. If you want a challenge, enter a stroke play tournament; they’ll make the course tough enough for anyones skill level.

  16. bert

    Sep 5, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Pick up after triple bogey.
    Play it forward based on handicap/age or game ability
    Putt out. no marking ball after first putt.
    Agree with cart use indicated above.

    have fun and move along

    • Joseph

      Sep 5, 2014 at 6:04 pm

      Not marking after your first putt should be a new rule implemented in all of golf. Seeing the pros mark a 2 footer is ridiculous. The only way your allowed to mark would be if you’re in the line of another putt. You could also make concessions for conditions where mud or excessive water would allow you to mark and clean the ball. But 90% of the time this should be a no brainer

  17. Mark

    Sep 5, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Just some thoughts about time restraints on a round of golf. Who or what determines how long a round of golf should take? Golf is not a timed event. Therefore, the round should take as long as the player determines. If the round is supposed to take 4 to 4 1/2 hours as “they” say, then limit the round by the clock and forget the number of holes played. The concept of 18 holes equals a round of golf will change to, 4 hours equals a round of golf.

    • Double Mocha Man

      Sep 5, 2014 at 12:28 pm

      But Mark… on most courses if you walk off after a set amount of time you might find yourself almost a mile from the clubhouse. It’s not like walking off a tennis court or a basketball court.

  18. BigPun

    Sep 5, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Our foursome of scratch golfers get through 18 holes in about 4 – 415. Any faster than that and it feels like we are rushing. We rarely wait on the group in front of us, and rarely have people waiting on us.

    At our club it is tee times every 9 minutes before 1:30, every 10 minutes thereafter

    • Mike

      Sep 5, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      The math seems funny there… at 9 minutes that would be a 2.7 hour round so basically people behind scheduled behind you are waiting 1.3 hours per round!

    • Jeff

      Nov 30, 2014 at 9:17 pm

      That’s way too slow for a foursome of any caliber, much less scratch. You should get around in 3.5 if you’re not waiting and all are that good.

  19. HBL

    Sep 4, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    Speed up play? Work on course set-up; a golf course does not need US Open rough and green speeds. I hate spending minutes looking for a ball that rolled a few feet in to the rough. Setting pins in impossible spots with fast greens only slows down play. Forget the hyper-critical USGA rule book; lost ball, out if bounds, hazards, drop a ball ang go. Play ready golf. And no whining!

  20. Regis

    Sep 4, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    I’m 63 and been playing 50 years. Played at a private club for 30 years, resort courses, Myrtle, Arizona, Ireland now playing municipals. I don’t think the pace of play has really changed much in 50 years. My experience is that no golfer ever thinks he or she is the problem-its always the guys in front.
    I don’t care if you take forever on the green or take a lot of practice swings as long as you are on the ass of the guys in front of you.
    If a course is always a 5-5 1/2 hour round its overbooked. Make tee times 9 minutes apart.
    I’ve played with groups of older ladies who can’t hit it more than 100 yards but they know how to move. I’ve also played with big hitters who are always playing their second shot from an adjoining fairway. Some don’t seem to know the rules of etiquette so they drive or walk right to their ball, thus tying up two fairways.
    It just comes down to common sense and respect for other golfers. If you see you’ve got a hole open pick up your pace. Its really kind of basic.

  21. Bo Price

    Sep 4, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    I am not sure how it would be administered, but I am sure if you charged players by the hour instead of by the round (obviously public course) you most likely will get faster play. Administrative nightmare… how do you check them out and check them in, how do you collect the green fees up front, etc. but somehow it has to hit the wallet… otherwise no incentive to speed up!

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 4, 2014 at 4:57 pm

      Somebody needs to create some technology for this….

      • Mike

        Sep 5, 2014 at 4:16 pm

        I like it. credit cards only. Either you are handed a gps unit to attach to your bag or have push button at the tee box that shows you are waiting. You could either be billed by how much you make someone wait over a certain amount of time, or just bill golfers by the minute instead of flat rate 18 holes.

  22. Don Porter

    Sep 4, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Apologies up front if this has already been mentioned. I read a lot of the comments but not all.

    In the grand scheme of things this is not a biggie but one that I know would speed up my game at times. Have a colored stripe painted on the curb or on the cart path directly at the tee box that matches the color of the tee.

    I have played a number of times at courses I am not familiar with and past up my tee box either because I could not see it or was not sure what color it is.

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 4, 2014 at 2:41 pm

      Thanks Don. This is a small step that might help out new folks at the course, I like it.

    • Richard

      Sep 4, 2014 at 3:17 pm

      I saw one of the golf announcers mention this sometime this summer and it seemed like a good idea to help improve the pace of play! Do not allow ball marker lines on the golf ball. I have played with people who take too long time to get the marker on the ball just right.

      • Don Porter

        Sep 4, 2014 at 4:40 pm

        Your right. I tried the line for a while and quit because it just took me to long to get lined up right and then when I did I focused so much on direction that my speed would be off. I’d rather have the speed right if I have to choose between the two.

      • Lee Maiden

        Nov 13, 2014 at 10:03 am

        And the line on the ball for putting has been proved uneffective.

  23. Steve

    Sep 4, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    My home club, hosted tournaments in back to back weekends, the first tournament had tee times, set in 3somes at 9 minute intervals. The next weekend it was 4somes and 8 minute tee times. Week 1, rounds were played in 4 hrs and 15 mins. The second weekend was pushing 6 hours in the afternoon. The fields in both events would be of similar skill level.

    I know course need to produce revenue, but there is something to be said for the enjoyment of your experience at a given course and your likelihood of returning. I think a lot of courses are looking at the short term by pumping out as many groups as they can. Spacing groups at 9 or even 10 minutes makes a huge difference to the overall time to play.

    Another big factor, is green speeds and pin positions. The faster the greens and tougher the pin positons, the more likely the average player is going to 3 putt. You add up all those etra putts over 18 holes, that is a lot of extra time.

  24. Matt

    Sep 4, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    What slows down play on the typical 18 in my neck of the woods?
    1. People who don’t know the game at all playing without guidance.
    2. Golf courses packing the course to tightly
    3. People not playing from the proper tees (long-ballers playing from the senior tees, waiting to hit into the greens on all par 5’s and some 4’s, as well as hacks playing from the tips).

    Nothing mentioned here will speed up play in my world. Want to know Golf’s dirty little secret?… The game got bigger because of Tiger, but along with the increased interest and revenue, came the masses. The masses don’t care about the game, they don’t take care of the course, they don’t give a flip about the people behind them, they never see the people in front of them, they don’t practice, they don’t follow the rules, and they sure don’t care about what the PGA wants… They are the idiots yelling absurdities after shots in tournaments. They get hammered beyond their liver’s ability on the course. They trash carts and piss all over the half-way house. They leave their cigarette butts on the greens and steal clubs from bags when no one is watching.

    The real solution is to realize that we don’t wall EVERYONE in golf. The game is going to burst like the technology and housing bubbles did. There’s too much equipment in too many stores. The professionals are hired by the hour instead of being on salary to help members.

    Want to speed up the game? Get hackers some lessons and force them to the range before allowing them on the course. Have consequences for the trash littering the average course (and I’m not talking about garbage).

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 4, 2014 at 1:29 pm

      Good thoughts, here Matt. I would argue that the bubble has already burst in golf and that folks are now starting to realize that fundamental changes must happen for the game’s long-tern viability.

    • Galen

      Sep 4, 2014 at 5:34 pm

      This is why it is so important that the game grows through he younger generation. NOT WALL IT OFF.
      I am not very good. Maybe 13 handicap. But I play very fast, because my father taught me to play fast. He taught me to guess my yardage, say 120-150, and take 2-3 clubs from the cart. Once I got the the ball, I would simply choose the right club.

      He taught me how to triangulate using a 100 plaque, or a 150 yard stick, and how to pace out my yards. I can get within 3 yards of a Bushnell from anywhere inside 225 yards with my own 2 eyes.

      He taught me that if I have a 60 yard wedge shot, to tell my partner “I brought my putter, go ahead and drive the cart up.”
      He taught me to putt in, instead of marking and alternating between players.
      He taught me to take a ball to the hazard, so I could drop in 3 seconds flat.
      He taught me to use cheap balls, (i buy titilest nxt and prov1 for 25 cents) and to let my wayward shots go, if there is a group behind. Because it’s not wotrh the 25 cents to upset other golfers.
      He taught me that when 2 people are in a cart, 1 person hits first, while the other player simultaneously drives to their ball and prepares to hit. Then player 1 walks up to the cart while player 2 plays their shot.
      MOST IMPORTANTLY, he taught me to know when it was ok to take my game on the course. Saturday mornings are not for hackers. Everyone deserves to learn to play golf on the course. But when you shoot 120, you need to go a times when the course is empty. EVERY COURSE IS EMPTY AT NOON ON A WEEKDAY. If you can only play weekends, you need to play during late play. And you need to get your swing and your game below a 100 before stepping out onto the course when it’s full. And even then, you need to know when to simply pick up, because the group behind you doesn’t deserve to see you play 3 sand shots.

      This is not a rant. These are the words my father spoke to me as we played golf together. It’s how I was raised to play.
      We cannot make the course a faster place this weekend, or next weekend, or even next year. But I plan on playing in 20 years, and in 40, so I coach golf. Every person I take out on the course, I teach them how to get around the course quickly. I teach them, young or old, how to be efficient with the golf cart, how to take clubs, how to “walk up” to save time. When a friend, who I know has a garbage game, wants to play, I pick the course and time where we will bother the least amount of people. And I let them know the good, cheap, and easy courses in the area, if they ever go out on there own. (and I have a blast with them, because I don’t have to feel embarrassed)
      Everybody needs to out take their sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, kids at your children’s school. Heck, take out your co-workers and inlaws and teach them the right way to get around.

      I don’t need a single damn rule speeding me up, because my father taught me how this game is played. And my father never broken 90 in his life. But together we have never gotten around a course in more than 3.5 hours, unless we came across some person in front, who didn’t have the sense to teach the people around him, the etiquette of this game.

      Please go grow the game the right way. This weekend I am sure I will get slowed down. But in 20 years, when I am behind your kids, I hope things will be different.

      • Joe

        Sep 4, 2014 at 10:28 pm

        Galen, those are excellent points. I use a number of those during my play and I usually finish my round right around the 4 hour mark. My experience show me that this point
        “when 2 people are in a cart, 1 person hits first, while the other player simultaneously drives to their ball and prepares to hit. Then player 1 walks up to the cart while player 2 plays their shot.” is a real time saver, same with the one about taking multiple clubs and taking the putter along with your wedge. It’s not that hard to play quickly, it’s a lot of common sense.

      • Double Mocha Man

        Sep 5, 2014 at 12:40 pm

        Galen, you and your father are welcome to play in front of me anytime!

      • Mason808

        Sep 16, 2014 at 3:42 pm

        Really good points that I will teach my son the next time I golf with him. Never did golf with my dad, but somehow learned to play the way your father taught you. Good job and great info.

    • Lee Maiden

      Nov 13, 2014 at 10:08 am

      You must play at muni city? I was a head professional for 30 years at busy courses including mr muni. Those people would be removed.

  25. Scott

    Sep 4, 2014 at 11:40 am

    I’m a big proponent of doing away with out of bounds and have everything be red stakes for the one stroke penalty. One swing on the tee box and move on vs. hitting a provisional shot that may or may not end up in play. Just go to an approximation of where your ball crossed the line, take your drop and move on.

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 4, 2014 at 11:43 am

      Amen.

    • bradford

      Sep 4, 2014 at 12:37 pm

      Agreed, I actually had someone drive back up to the teebox on a Sunday morning because he lost his ball. Drop it and move on, I don’t care if it’s a “money game”–it’s not my money, just my time.

    • Carlos Danger

      Sep 4, 2014 at 3:45 pm

      I think that this would potentially improve scores but not necessarily pace of play. For example, if I go OB on the white stakes off the tee I obviously hit another (hopefully down the middle). I probably go take a look along the white stakes just in case it bounced back in, but most likely 30 – 60 seconds later im hitting my 3rd shot.
      If I were to say go OB red stakes, then Im going to go look for that ball. If I find it and can hit it, then I certainly will. That time spent looking for the ball in the woods/creek/weeds etc…beyond the red stakes is most likely more time spent looking for a ball that may have stayed in bounds around the white stakes.

      Another thought that is probably mentioned somewhere here is that golf balls are REALLY expensive. The average golfer who is talked into buying a $50 box of ProVs because they “are the best” is probably more likely to go searching around for his ball (red or white stakes) than a guy whacking around some used Slazengers he picked up at a yard sale. If you loose say 4 balls and dont look for them thats essentially like saying, hey a $20 fell out of my wallet over there…oh well, I guess I will just leave it there because some people are standing back there waiting.

  26. mtn1414

    Sep 4, 2014 at 11:34 am

    It seems the easiest solution would involve using technology to monitor pace of play and address the specific golfers slowing things down. For example, marathon runners wear chips that allow you to track their progress throughout the race. Put these chips on each golfer’s cart and when you can see on a monitor that a group is falling behind, send a ranger out to address the problem.

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 4, 2014 at 11:42 am

      I love integrating technology into pace of play. Hopefully an entrepreneur reading this post will step up and create it!

  27. Charlie

    Sep 4, 2014 at 11:03 am

    The AJGA does a great job. Having played those events, but we can still be quicker. Some people are just slow. Some people are older or have health issues and we need to give them a break. Golf will never be a fast game nor should we expect it to be. It is way too idealistic to think that this will change after decades of slow play. I love playing rounds in under 3 hours walking. But, I am playing at a private club with no women by myself. Any tournament I play in, 4.5 hours is refreshingly fast, and that is how it will always be. People grind on their shots too much, but we are trying to shoot a score. In general, I take 90 seconds to putt and 20 seconds or less on everything else. Putts require more time and due diligence if you are a scratch golfer.

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 4, 2014 at 11:10 am

      I respectfully disagree, Charlie. I do no think it is impossible to speed up tournament golf to be 3.5-4 hours. It would require more athleticism and a quicker walk for golfers, and it would also make golf more of a sport. I firmly believe that quality competitive golf could be played significantly faster with little to know difference an average score.

      • TR1PTIK

        Sep 4, 2014 at 12:40 pm

        I also have to disagree with Charlie (although I do agree with giving older people a break if they have obvious health issues). I don’t think it’s too much to ask for people to just be more mindful of the time and the people around them. Let faster groups play through and don’t spend 10 minutes looking for a ball when the rules only allow for 5. If you aren’t playing by the rules anyway (preferred lies, etc) just drop a ball and move on. Sure that means you’re throwing away some money, but maybe it will give you more incentive to work on your game and play better golf.

        • Don Porter

          Sep 4, 2014 at 2:36 pm

          I have never spent as much as 5 minutes looking for a ball and I have lost a lot of balls. If I don’t find it in 2 or 3 minutes, Im moving on.

      • Lee Maiden

        Nov 13, 2014 at 10:44 am

        Ok Mike,all these suggestions of how to play fast are good, most should be obvious, however slow players are slow because they aren’t taught properly from the start. I was a head professional at busy courses for 30 years. In these modern times making tee times on line doesn’t allow for screening the players as when they call in for times. You simply tell the players what is expected of them. First group must play in 3 hours 20 minutes. They are easy to find. The second group must play in 3:30 which means they will finish one hole behind the first group.The first 6 groups will be told they will be helped and monitored by rangers. the seventh group through the last tee time will be told they must stay up with the group in front or they will be required to pick their ball up and move forward. All the courses I administered played 200 players per day and the last group finished in four hours. Golf is not growing, people are quiting because of slow play. I’ve taught a lot of beginners the very first thing they are taught is “miss it quickly”. So many opinions on how to speed players up, the answer is simple. As far as tournaments go, rules sheet explains what is expected with pace of play and should be enforced. The rules allow for penalties for slow play, if that doesn’t speed up tournament players nothing will. However tournaments and daily play are not related. you enter a tournament you should be prepared for whatever! We also had a card we handed out to players who might admit they are a bit slow. The card had 5 things only, go directly to your ball and hit when safe. Continuous putting. 2 minutes to look for lost ball. Be prepared to play when it is your turn, and above all “miss it quickly”. Once everyone knows what is expected it is up to the rangers to make it all happen. they don’t do anything at most courses because there is nothing they can do once it backs up. My courses never backed up. In closing, if everyone had good playing habits we would have fast courses with no one having to RUSH! Since that doesn’t exist, just telling people what is expected will work, guaranteed! golf pros need to do their job!

  28. Randog

    Sep 4, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Everybody has different experiences playing golf. The day-to-day is different depending on your location and playing partners. I’m glad I’m not in the situation some of you are in. I often play 9 holes in an hour by myself at my home course. Played a different course yesterday. We were a foursome done in 3 hours and we weren’t trying to play fast. I’d never play 18 if it always took 5 hours.

  29. John

    Sep 4, 2014 at 10:55 am

    A good place to start is the famous Calvin Calvin Coolidge quote “the business of America is business” or you could use Deep Throat in ALL THE PRESIDENTS MEN croaking out “follow the money” or even Cuba Gooding Jr “Show me the money” but financial incentive is really the only way to really make a serious dent in slow play. If there is a tangible benefit to playing faster, 10/15 bucks off your round, 40% discount on the next one, something on the order of that might make a difference. “While we’re young” and having a cop in your foursome, relaxed rules and so on might make a little difference around the edges, but the wallet is where noticeable progress can be made. There are any number of ways to go about it, and the daily fee operator could customize this to fit their budgets and resources, a rebate might work for some, free lunch for others. Now this has to be a real incentive to work, a free sleeve of Pinnacles is not going to cut it. The incentive has to be something that gets people’s attention. Coming off the worst recession in 80 years won’t hurt either. Most people’s pocketbooks are slimmer than they used to be. To those that say courses can’t afford it, they don’t have to, just move the money around a little bit. Charge a little more for this, a little more for that, and they could make a serious incentive program work. Then, when word gets around that you can play XYZ Golf Course in 4.5 hours and receive fill in the blank reward, then that would also attract business, and more money for the course. The disincentive, on the other hand, is a recipe for disaster. Some guy who is already unhinged by taking 5 plus hours shooting a thousand, hacking up the joint with five or six Heinekens under his belt would turn into a serial killer when assessed a 15 dollar penalty. Who is going to tell him? And how much extra insurance are they going to need? Short of them wearing a suit of armor I don’t see that working at all.
    The “While We’re Young” campaign (Annika’s spot was pretty funny) has done a great job of raising everyone’s awareness of this issue. It has served a valuable purpose there. So now something viable and specific needs to be implemented. Financial incentive, in my opinion, has the best chance of success.

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 4, 2014 at 11:03 am

      Thank you, John, for actually taking the time to make a comment that hits on a viable way we can help speed up pace of play. The majority of folks posting on this thread have not offered tangible ways we can implement change. We at the NCCGA are launching #ReadyGolf with a card-based penalty system. If you fall behind, you are penalized.

      I think that modern courses need to tack on greens fee spikes for slow players…or charge less for players who play quickly.

      • Lee Maiden

        Nov 13, 2014 at 10:53 am

        Let’s say I don’t care about the money. Great, I’ll tee off at 10 and play at my leisure. How does the group that tees off at 11:00 play fast?

  30. James

    Sep 4, 2014 at 10:44 am

    Sometimes slow play is due to the lack of skill some people possess. Other times it is just people thinking they are much better than they really are and taking a lot of time looking over a shot or a putt. Another problem is people emulate what they see the pros doing. Seems to me pros today take a lot more time to hit a shot than they did up until the late 90s. All the programs won’t work either I don’t believe. It will take courses having the courage to actually marshal their courses effectively.

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 4, 2014 at 10:49 am

      You are definitely right that the pros don’t set a good example. I wonder if the TOUR might give Brandt Snedecker and other plays some props for playing quickly.

    • Lee Maiden

      Nov 13, 2014 at 10:56 am

      That’s correct James, doesn’t matter what you do players must be told what is expected and monitored by rangers that actually do their job.It is that simple.

  31. ParHunter

    Sep 4, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Am I missing something here? Ready Golf is already a well known concept (just google it, e.g. http://www.golfwebsite.ws/12148/Documents/ReadyGolf.PDF) to speed up play which has nothing to do with your yellow/red cards. Using the same name for a different concept will only confuse people.

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 4, 2014 at 10:31 am

      Please read the thread below…#ReadyGolf is not a well known concept for the average Joe playing golf these days.

      • ParHunter

        Sep 5, 2014 at 3:38 am

        It might not be well known in the US but in the UK it is fairly well known IMHO. Nevertheless, before starting a new ‘hashtag’ you should check whether that word already has a different meaning (or concept attached to it). Playing Ready Golf as in ‘be ready to play your shot’ or even ‘play when you are ready (and maybe out of turn)’ can help to speed up the game more than your #ReadyGolf IMHO (but I guess it could be used in conjunction).

        Slow play is an issue in the UK as well but here people complain when it is longer than 4 hours. I think I only had 5h+ rounds a handful of times.

        So maybe one should look into why rounds are faster in the UK than they are in the US.

        • Lee Maiden

          Nov 13, 2014 at 11:02 am

          “Ready golf” is very well known in the US it’s up to each course to keep that statement out front.”Ready Golf “is the only statement we need, I agree many different “bullet” lines could confuse.

  32. RobG

    Sep 4, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Life is too short to worry about slow play in golf (#firstworldproblems). You are outside, on (hopefully) a beautiful day with good friends or at least with 3 other people who share your passion for the game. Take the time to connect with your playing partners, shoot the !@#$, play side games while waiting and put a little money on it. There are plenty of ways to kill time between shots. Make the most of the time away from your desk and computer and life’s responsibilities, relax and enjoy it.

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 4, 2014 at 10:33 am

      That’s great that you feel that way, Rob. Unfortunately many golfers, including me, will never be okay with having to wait on our shots.

      • Ollie 123

        Sep 4, 2014 at 5:03 pm

        I sort of agree with RobG and I think you will just have to be patient.The game does take a while but there are a lot of reasons e.g differing skill levels differing length off the tee and all sorts of influences.Personally I am not keen on slow play and one of my partners has given up because of it but if we all had his attitude then no one would play the game.A typical comp round at my G.C is 4 to 4 1/2 hrs but in midweek rounds we can play 18 holes in 2 1/2 hrs easily and thats walking too.The pro game has a lot to answer for as well with their slow play and rules negotiations that can take 10 mins or more.Unlike us amateurs they even get the balls found for them so what is their excuse for slow play.

    • Bruce

      Sep 4, 2014 at 12:01 pm

      On target: a golf course is a beautiful place so why hurry home.
      I am a 15 (honest handicap) and see much of the pace of play motivation as a continuation of what I see in golf. Many of the better players refuse to answer technique questions or provide any help for the rest of us. Their intent is to guarantee they will always be better than most. The pace of play is a thin veil over intent. Hurry a player and watch the game go bad. “Golf is a game played on a 6 inch course between the ears” – hurry this process and the game goes bad. MOST players need this little bit of extra time.
      IF pace of play were important, the PGA would require carts.
      Face the facts – golf courses overbuilt and opportunities to play are plentiful at attractive prices. Economics will not drive pace of play.

      • Mike Belkin

        Sep 4, 2014 at 12:47 pm

        Economics will drive pace of play as courses continue to close and golfers continue to be frustrated with negative experiences on the golf course.

        Have you seen the Golf Channel’s new venture Golfadvisor.com ?

        Courses that don’t do a good job promoting pace of play will and should get slammed here…

  33. Matt

    Sep 4, 2014 at 6:55 am

    Within reason I don’t understand the big issue with pace of play–and I’m one of the young guys who are supposedly leaving the game because it’s too slow and boring. Don’t get me wrong anything over 5hrs starts to test my patience, but I see anything short of 4 as fast, and 4-5 as time well spent. I’ve played rounds in ~2hrs when its wide open, but I actually leave feeling like I wish I could play another 18…somehow the time itself is part of the satisfaction.

    4-5 hours is just how long the game typically takes-why would anyone complain about being outside on a beautiful course for awhile?

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 4, 2014 at 9:46 am

      Interesting perspective, Matt. I think most on this thread would say that there is a huge difference between a smooth 4:15 round and waiting on half to many shots at a 4:45-5:15 hour pace.

      • Matt

        Sep 4, 2014 at 2:09 pm

        Completely agree, there is without question a difference between a leisurely 4:15 round and a tedious 4:45 round. Personally I don’t mind waiting on a few tees/approaches-great chance to chat a little-but when it starts to bother me is, for example, when high handicappers think they can hit it 280 and wait until the group ahead is actually on the green (300+) then shank it into the trees. Always made even worse when they think they can play the tips. The tee it forward campaign probably isn’t a bad thing.

        But I’m with Gautama below in believing that most serious pace issues could really be solved though better marshaling and golfers having a better understanding of their abilities.

        • Carlos Danger

          Sep 4, 2014 at 4:07 pm

          I sort of agree with the whole “guy waiting for green to clear from 275, then shanking” but then again, how do you know who the high handicapper and low handicappers are? I recently was in a scramble and was waiting for a par 4 green to clear that was 305 from the tee. Myself and another in my group are low single digit hdcp and can hit it far. He snap hooked his drive and I could hear the guys behind us grumbling “good thing you these guys waited, etc…” Which made me very happy to hit a perfect drive that rolled onto the edge of the green. I of course made a snarky comment as we passed “good thing we waited, right guys?”

          Point being, yeah maybe the golfers out there who are terrible shouldn’t assume that they are going to hit their 3 wood 265 into the green, but is that to say they shouldn’t ever try that shot and are only allowed to hit lay up 7 irons until they are a 10 hdcp or better? Its a thin line…

          Another scenario is a time I was playing with a good friend who is a horrible player, plays alot but is horrible. He was 230 out, hadnt hit the ball more than 50 yds all day. He didnt wait, hit his hybrid right on to the green that had people on it, which resulted in an argument. I smoothed it over…however that gets back into the whole thing of you saying that the high handicapper shouldn’t think he can hit the ball that far…what if he does?

          • Peter Klemperer

            Sep 4, 2014 at 5:34 pm

            Your friend probably should have picked up.

            Hitting 120 50-yard dribblers is no way to get around the course. Maybe you could have suggested he scramble along with you.

    • Gautama

      Sep 4, 2014 at 11:38 am

      I actually completely agree. I’ve played the game for nearly 30 years, and to be honest I think the pace is play thing is getting a little overblown. There have always been rounds that take too long, usually weekends, but what’s new are idiots pressing way too hard and thinking pace is the only thing that matters. I’d much rather wait on a few shots on Sunday afternoon than have someone in a cart (usually a single or double) right on my ass all day and acting impatient when I’m clearly already on the top of the group in front of me. And no, I’m not a slow player, but just as there are people out there who are chronically too slow, there are an increasing number who are trying to move unrealistically fast food a full course.

      It’s basic queuing logistics that the course can only move as fast as the slowest group, so incentives to speed play of a single group (e.g. money back) simply won’t work and will only lead to conflict. Golf takes time.

      Two solutions that can actually work are fewer tee times (more time between them) and basic course marshaling to make sure that groups don’t fall behind the people in front of them. Anything else is just creating negative attitudes and actually detracting from the enjoyment of the game for most out there.

  34. Flav

    Sep 4, 2014 at 6:40 am

    The biggest problem I see at the courses is crowding. Some put out foursomes at such short intervals that it is going to get clogged up. One for example has a reasonable part 4 followed by a short par 4 followed by a par 3. Those three cause a lot of back up until the next three longer holes come into play. But by then it’s already to late. I know courses want to make money and get as many as possible out there. But a course needs to keep it to within reason. One course has no tee times and on any given weekend you will find all the carts out by 8am. Holidays are even worse. 18 holes and upwards of 35-40 4 some out by 8am.

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 4, 2014 at 7:10 am

      I look at this as supply and demand. If golfers are willing to go out and pay full price to endure 5 hour+ rounds, then so be it. The golf course should make their money and stuff the course.

      Perhaps another course may decide to penalize golfers for slow play such that if a group doesn’t finish in 4.5 hours, then they will each be charged an extra $10.

      It’s all about supply and demand. So long as golfers are willing to pay and play in 5 hour +, I really can’t fault the course for doing their thing. They are struggling and need to make money to survive.

      • Flav

        Sep 4, 2014 at 8:54 am

        I agree with you. It’s just one of the main reasons for slow play and one that no one but the consumer can change. But if we boycott prices get raised and course close leading to more congestion at the remaining courses. The economic downturn didn’t help by closing more courses than golfers that left. Funny thing is we drive by it and play another course that is basically dead and get 36 holes in before most get 18 at that course. I think some just get into a habit and forget there are some decent uncrowded courses out there.

      • Carlos Danger

        Sep 4, 2014 at 4:08 pm

        Agreed…its like the thousands of people at the ball game standing in line complaining about $9 beers…as they buy three $9 beers

      • Gautama

        Sep 4, 2014 at 11:04 pm

        But if high demand is causing the crowding, why are we all suddenly so concerned that golf is going to die if we don’t increase the pace of play drastically? There seems to be a disconnect in the logic of it all…

  35. Boring

    Sep 4, 2014 at 3:31 am

    None of those work.

    Limit the ball. Period. Don’t let anybody be able to hit 300 yards without actually swinging 200mph ballspeed. The course wouldn’t have to be long, then. The ball won’t fly as deep into the bush.

    No more graphite shafts. The game will be more affordable, since nobody would have to pay the high price for expensive equipment.

    No more Titanium. Just steel. Nice and cheap. Same reason as above.

    Therefore, limit the COR to 0.8. And the CT needs to be reduced, too. But, they should allow for club heads to be bigger than 500cc, so that beginners and amateurs miss the ball less.

    No more stimp meter above 11 on any greens.

    If a decent, mid-handicapper can’t walk the course in 4 hours, the courses should be forced to be redesigned.

    I can dream, can’t I?

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 4, 2014 at 9:48 am

      This dream doesn’t sound very fun.

      • Fun

        Sep 4, 2014 at 11:18 am

        The early 90’s was plenty fun before golf went Roided up

        • Mike Belkin

          Sep 4, 2014 at 12:52 pm

          Economics will drive pace of play as courses continue to close and golfers continue to be frustrated with negative experiences on the golf course.

          Have you seen the Golf Channel’s new venture Golfadvisor.com ?

          Courses that don’t do a good job promoting pace of play will and should get slammed here…

        • Mike Belkin

          Sep 4, 2014 at 12:53 pm

          I was born in 1988…so I guess I can’t debate you this!

  36. marcel

    Sep 4, 2014 at 2:53 am

    those are the rules that need to implemented!!! like i am 12 handicapper and i hate playing golf – just the idea to spend 5h on the course i can play in 3h is getting me rash… i prefer going to driving range – hit 100 balls in 90min a happy work out… i even do push ups between the shots…

    like you looking at these sunday warriors reading the put like 5min each and miss left right… 8 shots… and pulling faces like Tiger who just missed by hair

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 4, 2014 at 6:38 am

      The driving range work out…I love it! Not sure if that will breed consistency in your swing, but I love people creating their own golf experience, whatever it may be. Keep it going!

  37. Jwin323

    Sep 4, 2014 at 12:08 am

    While tee it forward works on holes with forced carries, the truth is it doesn ‘t make you hit it any straighter or more solidly which means less shots from the fairway. If. Someone who struggles to hit it solidly moves up a couple of tees, they’re no more likely to club down to something they can control.. I was waiting behind a guy on a par four who was just over 200 yards out and he was waiting for the green to clear. I asked him why he was waiting when he didn’t even hit his teed up driver 200 yards. He said he hits his 3 wood farther than his driver. I asked him why he just doesn’t hit 3wood off the tee. He replied “I paid $500 for this driver and I’m gonna hit it every chance I get.” Can’t argue with stupid.

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 4, 2014 at 9:50 am

      True! There is so much stupid in the golf industry from the tees hackers play to the inability for golf courses to perform 21st century marketing to great golfers standing over the ball for 30 seconds.

      If all parties in the industry could get smart the game of golf will prosper.

  38. Rich

    Sep 3, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    All those who are looking for a change to the rules of golf or the game itself to speed up the game are just plain wrong. 5 hours runds were not the norm when I used to go it and caddy for my father 30 years ago and the rules were the same then as they are now. It’s player behaviour that has changed for the worst and that’s what needs to change. Pros are the cause of all this slow play rubbish. I like Rickie Fowler but have any of you seen how long it takes him to line up a putt with his putter and the line on his ball and all that rubbish. I played with a plus marker at my club a few months back and it was the slowest round I’ve ever played. It took him so long to line up his putts that the rest of the group were constantly going to the next tee to hit while he putted out because we were so slow, because of him. There is nothing wrong with the game, it’s players that need to change and change fast. There is no excuse for slow play, I don’t care what your handicap is.

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 4, 2014 at 9:51 am

      In my opinion, lining up your ball to hole should be illegal!

      • Rich

        Sep 6, 2014 at 10:07 am

        Too right. I even played with a guy (another low marker mind you) who would line up the line on his ball with the intended target on every tee shot too! Painful! I wanted to shoot the guy and out him out of his misery (figuratively speaking of course).

  39. Michael

    Sep 3, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    No excuses for slow play! Problem with common sense is that is it not common!
    I play in Australia where motorised are not used majority of the time. When and where they get used is where golf is slow, simply use push carts!
    It’s easy everyone goes to their ball, each takes turn to play their ball and you plenty of time to make your decision about your shot while waiting for the person before.
    Same with putting, line up your putt quietly while others ate putting (obviously not if you are directly behind).
    Number one trick we use though is groups of 3! 4 x groups of 3 will play much quicker than 3 x groups of 4.

  40. WhatIsThis

    Sep 3, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    Unless you can get everyone on the page, this ain’t happening. All is takes is one slow group to slow down everyone else behind. Regarding the guy that complained that people in carts don’t let him pass because he’s walking, I wouldn’t let you pass if you were behind me. Weekend golf in the NYC area will be 5.5 to 6 hour rounds. This is why I prefer to play during the week as a twosome when possible. 3 hour rounds would be great all the time. I consider myself as a decent pace player (no practice swings, quick read and putt, etc.), but I played with a guy that made me feel like I had to run. I like a good pace, but don’t want to feel rushed either.

  41. Paul

    Sep 3, 2014 at 11:07 pm

    oh man, people need to think about this from a non-golfers perspective
    the difference between 4 hours and 5 hours is nothing.

    it’s that the game takes that amount of time in the first place

    • Greg

      Sep 3, 2014 at 11:29 pm

      The idea that an 18 hole round is the only real round is what needs to go.

      Embrace Jack’s 6, 9, 12, 18 hole loops. You can do 6 in 1 hr 40 min. 9 in 2 hours 5 minutes, 12 in 3 and a half hours. Take out the huge time commitment. Heck even let out a 3 hole loop for a quick 40ish min game.

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 4, 2014 at 6:36 am

      I disagree with you, Paul. Non-golfers don’t understand the frustration of having to wait on all of your shots and play a 5 hour round. The fact that there are many novice golfers playing now that don’t understand golf etiquette and #ReadyGolf only exacerbates slow play. The golf experience many of us enjoy is playing a round where we don’t have to wait on every shot. In this modern age, people spend serious dollars on technology that will speed up things in our lives just a little bit….

      • mgm

        Sep 5, 2014 at 7:40 pm

        Respectfully disagree Mike. Non golfers fully understand the frustration that is why they never start playing or leave shortly after starting.

        Also blaming “novice golfers” for slow play is disingenuous at best. At least 60% of the slow players I encounter are avid low to mid handicap players (have been playing for 25 years). The slow beginners are the ones that emulate them. And for the record those same slow avid golfers are the ones who complain incessantly about “hackers” on the course.

        As many others have mentioned golf has always had a slow play issue and part of the reason why is that golfers always blame others but never take a look in the mirror.

  42. Greg

    Sep 3, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    I saw someone write how far we can hit it is a huge problem; it isn’t.

    The problems to me are as follows:
    1)Not taking lessons. Too many people who can’t it a fairway insist on playing back.
    2) Beginners playing peak hours.
    3) The people who think it’s the tour out there.

    Solutions:
    1) Make courses more forgiving. Does every landing zone need to be 10 yards wide? Cut those fairways a little wider. Git rid of most the tall grass. Do away with trees within 15 yards of the fairway.
    2) Offer peak pricing. Charge more for early mornings and late afternoon (8am-11am, 3pm-5pm). Offer (like my course does) $1 per hole to beginners and children.
    3) Sometimes Greens keepers need to play tricks and do 18 easy pins (as opposed to 6-6-6). Move the tee boxes up so white tees aren’t 6400 on the weekend but more like 6000.
    4) What worked for us: Referening everything to time, encouraging double par, encouraging playing 2 man scrambles in student groups.

  43. Greg V

    Sep 3, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    The fact of the matter is this: the longer we golfers hit the ball, the longer it is going to take to play the game.

  44. Joseph

    Sep 3, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    Lots of great ideas and perspective. You have to put in place rules that are unquestionably enforceable. Courses aren’t going to be become shorter. Players aren’t going to play from forward tees if they’ve been playing from 6500 yards for the last 10 years. Trying to encourage or suggest players do these things is futile in my opinion. The reality is that all it takes is a few slow groups to impact a significant number of players playing behind them. You have to establish time and pace of play minimums and stick to them. You get a warning for being behind pace once and the second time you are asked to leave the course with a refund for the number of holes not played. Courses can elect to implement these types of rules if they want to. If you as a player go to a course that doesn’t enforce pace of play minimums, you should expect to play a slow round. I would spend more money to play a round in less than 4 hours. That’s how I like to play and I certainly would stay away from courses that are known for more casual/ fun golf unless I’m playing with my wife or kids. How you manage the pace of play and keep the costs under control is a real issue. I’m sure technology can help. Everyone has a smart phone. A technology that would sync to your phone when you tee off and provide pace of play updates would be pretty easy.

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 4, 2014 at 9:53 am

      I definitely agree that technology needs to be utilized to help us play #ReadyGolf. It’s definitely a space with room for innovation.

  45. John

    Sep 3, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    I am lucky enough to play in the first group on weekends at my local muni. Our foursome usually finishes in under 3 1/2 hr despite the betting actions I find it hard to play later in the day because despite most groups intentions of playing quickly they are clueless on how to save time they are mostly content to play in 5-6 hrs and many of them rarely even complain about it. If I had had to play later in the day, I’d probably be having even more marital problems

  46. bobbycj

    Sep 3, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    So much to say on this but reading other’s long winded posts is almost as bad as slow play. Extensive reading of putts and brutal pre-shot routines for slow players in front of me or in my foursome is what ruins my round….as well as endless searching for a lost ball. Watching Jim Furyk live at a PGA event takes the cake though, his putt reading is torture. If slow players feared the group behind them was going to drive up and beat them then slow play would go away.

  47. christian

    Sep 3, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    One problem is that most golfers out there are not “serious” golfers, but are out there to “relax” and have “a good time” drinking beer, goofing around in general and are trying to outdo each other in macho banter and jokes. And they are usually very slow.

  48. flustered

    Sep 3, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    I remember when I played 18 holes in under 3.5 hours walking. Unfortunately those days are long gone…….but are they?
    Recently, I have noticed shorter rounds (approaching 4 hrs) and less number of people on the course, even on weekends. I spoke with my local club owner and he agrees that attendance/membership is on a downward swing. Not as many people playing and he also states a definite decrease in younger players taking up the game. Is this downward trend possibly related to the decreased appearance of Tiger Woods playing on the PGA tour?
    We will wait and see…….

    • Ed Bernstein

      Sep 4, 2014 at 11:52 am

      I recently played a 5 hour round at my country club for which I pay pretty penny to play. The group in front us were 2 holes behind. There were no reprecussions to this group. I am seriously thinking of not just giving up my membership, but golf altogether. If golf’s popularity is diminishing (and I know our club is struggling)these types of rounds don’t help matters. I have better things to do in five hours. This after playin for almost 50 years, and I am currently a 10 handicap. Life is too short.

  49. Jason

    Sep 3, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    The two problems I have noticed on my local courses that is killing me is 1. Slow groups refusing to let people play through. 2. Course marshals being there at the first hole but then nowhere to be found the rest of the day.
    We had the perfect storm hit us Monday when the marshal proudly announced they were 5 minutes ahead and we could tee off then to sit for 20 minutes on the 4th hole with 2 other groups while a 4 some held up the entire course. If the marshal would patrol more than the first hole and remind players to speed up or let other play through that would help. Golf is supposed to be a gentlemen’s game but by the few people willing to let you play through it is awfully hard to tell.

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 3, 2014 at 6:40 pm

      Yes having course marshals ushering pace of play is a huge help. Unfortunately having marshals costs money and many courses are having to cut back on thing that really affect the golfing experience. Based on this thread, it seems as though having people understand the etiquette of playing through is a huge must to pick up the pace.

      • TR1PTIK

        Sep 4, 2014 at 12:32 pm

        I think courses should have voluntary marshals and provide them a free round for every 2-3 hours of work (something like that anyway). Simply post a signup sheet and create a rotation for every weekend of the month. I’d be willing to sit in a cart on a nice day for a couple hours if it meant I could save a few bucks on my golf.

      • Lee Maiden

        Nov 13, 2014 at 11:32 am

        Wrong Mike, playing through groups slow down the course. you can’t play through on a busy course, it’s too busy. Keep up with the group in front, period. However, you must get the course moving from the first time to create an adequate pace, not too fast and obviously not too slow. Its up to the golf shop to tell each group what is expected and then rangers to their jobs. As far as rangers costing too much? I’ve never known of a course paying rangers, they are retired people who ranger so they have playing privleges.

    • Bob

      Sep 7, 2014 at 6:00 pm

      Here are the biggest thing I think that effects letting players through(in groups that I have played with and are being pressed by the group behind):
      1. The group ahead just left the tee – green – fairway and we are ready to tee off, hit to the green, etc.
      2. When we have let a group through, there is usually another group coming up that is now waiting as we wait for the group waved through to clear the fairway, green, etc.

      I have been on a course were we played our 18 in 4:15 (we teed off 32 minutes after the group ahead) and had a ranger come by several times, always telling our group we needed to keep pace, when we were constatnly breathing down the necks of the foursome ahead of us.

      Personally I like being outside on a nice day. It is made even better when it is shared with some friends. If the round takes 4:15 – 4:30 (even when we wait on a tee or two, or an approach shot or three) it still beats sitting at home or in an office.

      My biggest pet peeve is the group in the cart that drives to player A’s ball, sits till A hits, wipes his club, shoves it into the bag, then drives the 20 yards to player B’s ball and goes through the same process.

      For those that might leave the game because they don’t like those 4 hour rounds, great, more room for the rest of us.

  50. mitch

    Sep 3, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    that extra 30 mins divided up over 18 holes can be an eternity for people who typically play under 4.5 hours.

    that is average of 1.6 minutes a hole, take into account average 2 full swings, imagine having to wait 45 secs every single shot, all the time. now add that up over a week, months etc.

    How would you like to wait 45 secs for every stop sign, signal light, lane change, bus stop on your way home?

    Or how about waiting for the phone to ring for 45 secs before you are allowed to answer it, how about going to a swing coach and forcing you to wait 45 secs before you hit your next shot, for an entire bucket of balls.

    Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock, only 39 more times…

    Lebron James takes the gaming winning 3 pt shot over his defender, wait 45 secs before we know whether or not he makes it…

    We live in a self gratifying and digital world, to even justify that a round of golf should take anywhere near 5 hours is absolutely ridiculous.

  51. CB

    Sep 3, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    As a result of 5 hours rounds I rarely play 18 any more. I either go super early where most courses have a 9 hole rate, or play super twilight wheres is cheaper.

    Just have no desire to lose over half my day to play 18 no matter how much I love the game

    • Mat

      Sep 3, 2014 at 5:35 pm

      It would help if 9 holes was made the standard, and these relaxed rules would get a handicap procedure.

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 3, 2014 at 5:40 pm

      Totally agree. Years ago my dad used to take me out to Newton Commonwealth, a city course in Boston that gets PACKED during weekend afternoons. His group literally had a key to let them into the front gate. We’d tee off at the crack of dawn and be off the course at 8:15. I needed a nap afterwards but it’s a great way to start the day.

    • mitch

      Sep 3, 2014 at 5:55 pm

      that is why golf is suffering in the modern era, people simply don’t have enough time to play golf and do other activities. and unfortunately for most people, they rather choose other activities over golf.

  52. Mat

    Sep 3, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    #2 and #3 should be done for the entire sport at all levels now.

    I’d rather see double-bogey or triple-bogey; not 10 on a par 5.

    I still think 14 clubs should apply to all every time. More clubs leads to more time taken.

    I’d also like to see “The Tips” indicated by FLAT tee markers making them harder to find for casual players.

    • Mat

      Sep 3, 2014 at 5:34 pm

      Also, for speed of play… if we’re going to use carts, let’s start manufacturing 1-seaters. The “car” model is the problem. It would be much better if we were all using more or less a moped on three fat wheels so we can all go to our ball. I like walking, but sometimes it’s impractically hot to walk. I play with my uncle, and he can’t walk, so for those rounds as well, we could all play much, MUCH faster if the transport system was individualized.

      • Mike Belkin

        Sep 3, 2014 at 5:37 pm

        Very interesting idea. It would be a very bold play for a cart-manufacturer to go after this knowing fragile the golf course economy is right now…what courses would pony up on this new investment?

      • mitch

        Sep 3, 2014 at 5:58 pm

        golf course want more revenue not more expenses, plus I think it would only be marginally faster than the current 2 buddy system.

  53. Jason

    Sep 3, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    Honestly, I don’t care how long it takes any group to play. As long as the slow groups let the fast groups play through immediately, who cares? The problem is that the slow groups like to wait a few holes before letting a faster group go through. Even then, that slow group seems to think that they shouldn’t let the faster group play through, because that fast group will just catch up to another group and wait anyway. The fast group needs to play through immediately–not on the next hole, right now. Move aside from the fairway, green, trees, wherever, and let the world get on its way!

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 3, 2014 at 5:31 pm

      I like it. The question is how do we enforce it? How do we make it KNOWN that the faster group will play through, it’s not even a choice…

    • Lee Maiden

      Nov 13, 2014 at 11:49 am

      Wrong again! the only way a group should allow another group to play through is if there is somewhere to go. courses that aren’t busy with solid foursomes are very difficult to administer. These courses need to control the pace of play from the golf shop. Too many scenerios at courses that aren’t busy. A foursome tees off with four holes open ahead. Next group is a twosome, now you need to tell the foursome to please allow the twosome through when they come up. Now four foursome tee off behind one another with the course open in front. All four groups stay up with each other and play at a pace just under 4 hours, now here comes a twosome with two holes open behind the four groups that tells you they won’t bother anyone and should be allowed to go out as a twosome. Absolutely not. They can’t go through four groups just not proper. Wait for at least a single and please don’t push the group in front IF you catch them.

  54. Jason

    Sep 3, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    I still can’t figure out why 4 hours is considered the standard pace of play. Why not advertise that 3 hours is the new standard? Perhaps, if that were the new standard, players would strive for it? Who knows?

    Regarding the Tee it Forward initiative: a few weeks ago, I played behind a husband and wife combo. The wife had never played before. She played the white tees along with her husband. The first hole is a very difficult 460 yard par 4 (unfortunately, the red tee still plays 450–thanks superintendent!). The wife hit roughly 10 shots before even reaching the fairway. She then had to hit another 20 shots before reaching the green. I couldn’t figure out why the husband just didn’t let her start from the 100 yard marker, hit 4-5 shots, and then just drop on the green. I mean, how much fun could either of them have playing like that? Also, how likely is that women to return to the game? She probably never even had a chance to hit a shot near the pin, and she was probably frustrated after her 30th shot on the first hole.

  55. Rwj

    Sep 3, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    As far as PGA tour is concerned, you can’t have a policy if you don’t enforce it to the stars! Tiger can back off for wind multiple times a shot, multiple holes a round and nothing is said. A teenage kid at the masters does and it’s a penalty. You penalize the stars and the whole tour will notice. Rory is the best in the world and it doesn’t take him long to play.

    • Carlos Danger

      Sep 4, 2014 at 4:18 pm

      Eh…$100s of thousands of dollars (sometimes millions) is not riding on every shot we hit. I will give a pro a pass on that one

  56. adhd

    Sep 3, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    Tee times separated by 7.5 or 8 minutes. If you do the math, on a day (weekend) when all tee times are booked and everyone shows up, slow play is inevitable unless you’re one of the first early groups out. On days where there is less business, it’s never really been a problem. Slower groups let faster groups through in many cases. Even at a muni, I’ve rarely had a problem with slow play when all tee times are not completely booked and groups are spaced out accordingly. But on a busy day, it doesn’t matter how fast every one can play when every hole is occupied and the first tee is backed up.

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 3, 2014 at 5:08 pm

      Stuffing the course is a huge problem. You can’t blame a golf course for doing so. They need to run a business and if golfers are willing to play a 6 hour round, then so be it. I and many others on this forum would not stand for that and thus not play the course. At a certain point the course won’t be full if the 6 hour golf experience isn’t good enough.

      I wonder if any medium-priced golf courses have experimented with a “fast play time” during which you must finish your round in a certain time.

      • CM

        Sep 3, 2014 at 8:09 pm

        You bet your bu&& you can blame the courses. They are thinking short term as long as they are busy. Play a six hour round once and a lot will never go back. Easiest way to fix problem is to get courses to book 12 minute tee times along with all your other suggestions. Also how about first hour or two only twosomes for people who want to play fast.

  57. Don Porter

    Sep 3, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    Improper use of golf carts is in my opinion the biggest reason for slow play. First of all, if a course is walkable, I walk and though some will disagree, I can play as fast walking if the course is what I consider walkable.

    When I do ride, I still walk a lot. I normally play with my wife who hits from the forward tees. I hit, she drives up to her tees and hits while I walk to her tee box. The rest of the way to the green, I walk to my ball as much as possible while she is using the cart so that we can play as quick as possible.

    If your slow because your not a good golfer, that is one thing. However, if your slow because you are not considerate or smart enough to figure out how best to use the cart you have, then shame on you!

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 3, 2014 at 5:05 pm

      You make a great point here, Don. Playing #ReadyGolf while walking is a different beast than playing #ReadyGolf in a cart. Maybe we at Nextgengolf will produce a white paper on golf cart etiquette / best practices if there isn’t already one out there.

  58. Tom Stickney

    Sep 3, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    All hazards, lost balls, and ob should be treated as lateral hazard drops with location agreed upon by playing partners.

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 3, 2014 at 4:57 pm

      Most definitely agree that these should be the rules for recreational play. Do you think these rules could be implemented in actual competition though?

  59. TT

    Sep 3, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    I believe many golfers are simply playing from the wrong tees. One course in my town is over 7,500 yards from the tips and is a very difficult course. Middle set of tees where majority of golfers play is about 6,400 yards (5 sets of tees to play from). Not the right set of tees for the majority of golfers. However, telling someone they need to play from the closer tees is insulting their ego (I don’t want to get punched in the face). From what I notice, playing wrong tees and spending too much time ball searching are the two biggest culprits of slow play.

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 3, 2014 at 4:40 pm

      No doubt. The industry agrees with you TT per the Jack Nicklaus tee if forward campaign.

    • Michael M Thomas

      Sep 3, 2014 at 4:46 pm

      Quite right. At 78, after 65 years playing the game, for a while at a decent level, I find 5800-6000 yards, depending on the topography, about right. I know there are octogenarians out there who routinely shoot their age or better, but I’m not that. I feel the same way about 18 holes. My home course, laid out by C.B.Macdonald, was laid out to provide a seamless 30-yard walkover connection between #6 green and #13 tee. Macdonald realized that as he and his friends grew older, six out, six in made sense, and then it would be time for Kummel and bridge.

      • Mike Belkin

        Sep 3, 2014 at 5:25 pm

        Nice! My dad refuses to play with my brother (who is very good) and me when we go to the back tees so we started playing with him at 6,400 is at our home course and it’s actually more fun.

    • mitch

      Sep 3, 2014 at 5:34 pm

      once again another mis-conception and blanket statement. i can play with 3, 40+ hdcp from TPC saw grass tournament tees, faster than most people playing from the ladies tees.

      The lack of common sense is what causes slow golfers all around the world.

      things like, giving your partners the yardage, helping them pick up clubs near the green, parking at the end of the green, allowing the player to bump the ball from a bad lie. not taking 3 practice swings right before you hit the ball, learning to play ready golf, bringing 2 balls and tees with you all the time, or how about learning to aim your shot and picking an alignment line on the ground and horizon. all those little things need to be taught to all new and even some existing golfers. Everyone is trying to be so polite and politically correct all the time, the slow golfer 99% of the time don’t even realize how slow they are playing until you straight up yell at them.

      Unfortunately, there is such a mass disparity between good golfers and bad golfers that i just don’t see slow play getting any better. what i mean by that is, golf has basically lost the average player who is not necessarily good at the game but knows what to do, because they have a passion for the game, and in the past they could afford the time and money to invest in learning the game, but since life comes before golf, you are only left with hard core players, the weekend hack, or total noobs playing with other noobs. Reality is, Golf can not be enjoyed by the masses because in order for it to be enjoyable, there has to be some sort of commitment to either the range, lessons or time spent with other good golfers. Reality check, if you can only hit your 7 iron 75 yards max, golf ain’t going to be fun or quick no matter what tees you play from. Golf like everything else in life has to be taught and learned. This include learning golf course etiquette and knowledge of the game. If you all you ever do is play with hacks, guess what you become a hack, rarely is a veteran player going to play with 3 hacks, they rather not play or play early morning with other “good” golfers.

      I use to think I was a super fast golfer and had great common sense. I knew I wasn’t very good, but I thought I was quick, me and my buddy who was a hack at the time could easily play 18 holes under 2 hours when it wasn’t busy, but then I played with a friend who actually became my boss, the first few rounds were fine and dandy, until one round I got there early and drove the golf cart. On the first hole I got a scolding for not parking at the back of the green. I was like what’s the big deal, he pointed out that after we finish the hole we can walk out the back so that people from behind us could hit instead of waiting on us. This is an example of how even for myself, I wasn’t aware of how I could improve the pace of play for the group behind by doing the simplest of things.

      also, please for the love of god stop taking practice swings, no other sport in the world do you take full practice actions, imagine in tennis if every time, Sharapova had to take 3 practice swings for a serve? Or how about lets take a practice pitch or practice kick off. STOP IT!

      • Regis

        Sep 4, 2014 at 5:29 pm

        You are so right. The tee it forward campaign is a good thought for those courses which were designed for 4 or 5 different tees (like a lot of resort courses) But a lot of clubs have responded by simply going up 20 yards from the middle tees , close cropping a new tee and throwing down some markers. Doesn’t work unless the location of the new tee and its height are designed to equalize the tee shot. Otherwise a golfer looking to play better and faster by “moving up” finds out its of little help.

  60. Brad

    Sep 3, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    Nothing changes until courses decide to actually have a policy, and enforce it. One of the issues is that courses don’t do their starting intervals properly. Posting the slow-play policy is also key – at several timing points on the round. A cheap GPS beacon on a cart will show pace of play, and if you’re behind the posted time window, you get a visit from a guy in a cart. If you don’t speed up, you’re asked to sit down until the next window and let groups behind play through. Or you can leave. Harsh? Maybe, but actually making a commitment to the policy in the clubhouse will be key to success. What motivates a course to be harsh like this? The obvious fact that faster play, even with longer start intervals, will result in more potential rounds per day.

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 3, 2014 at 4:39 pm

      Love what you’re doing, Brad. Too many people whine about pace of play and can’t put forward an incentive-based system to speed folks up.

  61. Chris Reina

    Sep 3, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    I think it’s only a matter of time before all levels of competition, including the PGA Tour, use range finders. I know this post was about golf in general, but I truly believe the PGA Tour should start using range finders. They’re too convenient to not use them, and they can eliminate huge amounts of time where the caddie has to walk off yardages, especially when the golfer is nowhere near a marked sprinkler head!

  62. Mark

    Sep 3, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    I think that slow play is relative to the pace that the player lives their life. On the courses I play, the mannerism of the player is what is slowing the game down. Until the players speed up how they move, walk, think, react and understand they are not the only ones playing, the game will never speed up. There are people who have nothing left in the day but play and then there are those of us who have a life outside golf.

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 3, 2014 at 4:23 pm

      Fair enough…so what can we do about it? How can we actually get people to play faster and still enjoy their golfing experience?

      • CJK

        Sep 3, 2014 at 8:22 pm

        Love the one person cart idea! I am so tired of watching slow groups having both carts go to every ball and watch each other hit the ball. Then both carts go to the next ball and before you know it they then can not find the third and fourth balls because they have lost their “mark”. Drives me up the wall.

  63. Andre

    Sep 3, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    I agree with speeding up rounds. There are two things I notice when rounds gets slow. 1st, people playing tee that don’t fit their distance capabilities. And this is isn’t talking about handicap. I play often with guys who just don’t hit the ball far enough. Their games is great, but they have 2 options for tees whites or blues. And some of our courses here and only 300 yard difference between those 2 options. 2nd damn carts! I cannot say enough about how this slows the game down. I can probably count on one hand when I have seen a 4some in carts actually use them properly. Usually it’s all 4 drive to one ball, guy steps out. Hits, hops back in, and they all drive to the next ball. It’s drive to the first ball, drop off drive to the next. First guy walks back to the cart. Unless you are playing a mountain course, or you really need the cart because of limited mobility then by all means. I like playing with everyone. However just keep it moving. Cause the difference isn’t just because people need to be somewhere after round. It’s about staying in your groove. I can say, playing slow adds min 10 shots to my game.

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 3, 2014 at 4:22 pm

      Love everything about your comment. There’s something about being in that golf groove when you’re walking briskly from shot to shot uninterrupted. It’s golf the sport versus golf the slow 5 hour+ game that is waning in popularity.

    • Brad

      Sep 3, 2014 at 4:31 pm

      Agree. Playing from the proper tees is CRITICAL. Can’t tell you how many times you see dudes hitting from the blue tees, who have no business whatsoever anywhere near a blue tee…. group after group after group. Easy to post guidelines on tees & handicaps/general golf skills, but getting past golfer ego is an issue.

      • TR1PTIK

        Sep 4, 2014 at 12:18 pm

        Personally, I can play from the white tees or the blue tees and score pretty much the same because I hit the ball “long enough” but the inconsistencies in my game keep me from shooting lower scores, but I’ve seen my fair share of people who don’t belong on either tee and need to ‘fess up and play from the reds. I also agree heavily with Andre about keeping a groove. Regardless of how hard I try to keep a positive state of mind, slow play always results in my game going downhill.

  64. KB33

    Sep 3, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    If you want to increase pace of play…net each hole like a driving range to eliminate shots way off line and increase ease locating your ball…bumper golf

    • KB33

      Sep 3, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      Or courses can start requiring that handicaps be reported and mandate tees you play from or require limited flight balls…stroke limits per hole etc.

      • Mike Belkin

        Sep 3, 2014 at 3:59 pm

        I’d love to see it, but doing so would be border-line anti-american…I think a timing restriction per hole would potentially be feasible. If you are not held up and finish a 15 minute par 4 in 18 minutes, an extra 50 cents it tacked on to your greens fee per every minute you finish after the allotted time.

        I’m not saying this is a good policy, just making the point that incentives–be them positive or negative–are the way to speed up pace of play.

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 3, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      Hackgolf was ended for a reason…

  65. Ben

    Sep 3, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Golf is best at just a good steady pace. Speed golf where you are rushing all the time is not good and neither is stop and go all the time. People should all take it a notch down and enjoy the round.

    However, with that being said. People need to realize that the more strokes you take, the less time you should take for pre-shot routine to keep pace. The better players can take a little longer pre-shot routines because they are taking less strokes per round.

    For example, if you take two players (one that shoots 95 and one that shoots 75) there is a difference of 20 strokes per round. If they have the same one minute pre-shot routine, the person who shoots 95 takes 95 minutes to play his shots, however the person who shoots 75 takes 75 minutes to play his shots. That is 20 minutes difference. So for the player that shoots 95 to keep pace with the guy who shoots 75, they have to shortened their pre-shot routine to 47 seconds.

    A lot of it is just common sense and common courtesy on the course. If you are obviously holding up groups behind, let them through so you can play your own pace or pick up the pace.

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 3, 2014 at 3:46 pm

      well said, but hard to morph this wisdom into a tangible pace of play policy. Any ideas on how this philosophy might be incorporated into #ReadyGolf?

  66. mlamb

    Sep 3, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    There is only one answer: practice.

    Completing a round in 3-3.5 hours requires playable tee balls and approach shots. Go to a local muni on a Saturday and watch groups tee off – I’d guess ~50% go OB.

    Basically, golf takes a lot of practice (practice which is often times not fun) to become proficient. People just aren’t willing to put in the effort before heading to the course.

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 3, 2014 at 3:35 pm

      No doubt practicing helps and is the obvious answer. However there are many very skilled players that play quite slowly….remember Kevin Na? Ben Crane?

    • alan p

      Sep 3, 2014 at 3:37 pm

      i disagree, i just got home from scotland and posted play for the courses was 3.5 hours. pace of play is common sense and being respectful of other’s time on the course. not grinding over a lost ball for long periods of time and eyeing up putts that you have little probability of making.

      • mlamb

        Sep 3, 2014 at 3:41 pm

        Alan: I agree as well. Probably a mix of practice and courtesy

        Mike: Pros like Na and Crane definitely take too much time, but then again, they are playing for their livelihoods. Weekend warriors don’t need 2 minutes to line up an 8 footer. Goes a bit back to what Alan said re: being respectful

        • Mike Belkin

          Sep 3, 2014 at 3:52 pm

          For sure. I am in no way defending the Nas and Cranes, my point was that good players take a long time too, not just the bad players.

          Weekend warriors would probably play better if they didn’t sweat the .50 cent 5 footers and just stepped up and hit it #whilewereyoung

      • Mike Belkin

        Sep 3, 2014 at 3:42 pm

        Certainly agree. I good golfer once told me “try less”. Sometimes golfers overthink their shots and consequently hit them badly.

    • Kevin

      Sep 3, 2014 at 3:40 pm

      Very true, the vast majority of golfers need more practice than they do a new driver or a 5-hour round shooting 100. But that doesn’t account for the really good players that are slow like the college players. It is a lot of little things like looking for balls, too many practice swings, too much green reading, course conditions, a lack of intent to play more quickly, poor etiquette, selfishness, trying to drive to everyone’s ball in golf carts instead of parking centrally and walking from there when possible, not being ready to hit when it’s your turn, not being at all good enough to be on any level of golf course, over using measuring devices…

      • Mike Belkin

        Sep 3, 2014 at 3:44 pm

        Agree on everything you say except the measuring devices. Range finders are slow, but I recently started using a Golf Buddy GPS watch and find that it speeds me up.

        • Don Porter

          Sep 3, 2014 at 4:45 pm

          I agree. I can play faster with my GPS.

          • bradford

            Sep 4, 2014 at 12:42 pm

            If a course is well marked, neither is necessary. I can judge just about anything given two decent reference points and “about halfway between 134 and 150” is as close as any of us needs, don’t kid yourselves that you know your clubs to the yard.

  67. chad ryan

    Sep 3, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    I don’t understand why they feel this is SOOO bad for golf. Yes it takes 5 hours to finish a round on a saturday when the weather is nice….if you’re shocked by this you haven’t been playing long. And what difference does it make if you speed up play and finish in 4 1/2 hours? Are more people going to play because of the extra 30 min? no.

    • Mike Belkin

      Sep 3, 2014 at 3:30 pm

      Many people enjoy the uninterrupted golf experience where you don’t have to wait for golfers in front of you. Others enjoy the fitness component of golf and would want to play in 3 hours if you weren’t held up at all. I’m a busy guy and hate waiting, so for me, a five hour round is almost not worth it!

      • TR1PTIK

        Sep 3, 2014 at 4:37 pm

        Agreed. I shoot in the upper 80s/low 90s and walk almost every round. I use the Golfshot app on my phone for score and GPS – including club tracking. I also use the Adidas miCoach app to track calories burned, pace, and overall time. I’ve been doing this off and on since July and all of my rounds have been under 4 hours. I’ve also played 18 holes w/ a cart in 2 1/2 hours with no one in front of me. Faster rounds are definitely possible, people just need to be more considerate about pace. I constantly have people refuse to let me play through because I’m walking and they’re in a cart. It’s just rude and inconsiderate and needs to stop!

    • alan p

      Sep 3, 2014 at 3:43 pm

      @chad. 5 hour rounds are horrible for golf. in fact 4 hour rounds are horrible for the game, along with carts(carts b/c most folks wont grab clubs and walk to their ball), and modern course design that has tee boxes long distances from greens. further annoyances are folks/groups that watch everyone hit their shots before advancing to a ball. some other issues that contribute to slow play: long rough, fast greens,groups playing improper tees. imo superintendents should move the tees forward and put the pins in the middle of the greens on the weekends.

    • Rancho Park

      Sep 3, 2014 at 4:37 pm

      Unfortunately, where I play (Rancho Park in Los Angeles), 5 hours is fast for a weekend round. 6.5 hours is not uncommon, and borderlines impossible for my schedule.

      • Mike Belkin

        Sep 3, 2014 at 4:51 pm

        That is a shame. Would you pay more money to play a 4 hour round?

      • James

        Sep 18, 2014 at 6:50 pm

        Agreed. Los Verdes might be worse than Rancho Park. You can go up to Ventura country and play but time spent will be about the same with drive there and back.

    • Don Porter

      Sep 3, 2014 at 4:49 pm

      I agree to a certain extent. Its not so much the time it takes that bothers me, its having to wait to hit my next shot that irritates me and negatively affects my rhythm and therefore my score.

      • John

        Sep 3, 2014 at 8:50 pm

        First few tee times or a few holes after work 5 1/2 hr rounds aren’t very enjoyable when you have a long todo list

    • Lee Maiden

      Nov 13, 2014 at 12:07 pm

      Sorry Chad, yes more people will play if its faster, people are quitting in droves because of this disease.

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Courses

Open Championship courses you can play (and when the best time to book is)

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The final major of 2024 is nearly here as the top golfers head to Scotland’s southwestern coast to battle for the claret jug at Royal Troon. Golf’s original major dates all the way back to 1860 and has been played at 14 different courses throughout the United Kingdom (yes, this includes Northern Ireland) providing countless memories including celebrations, heartbreak, and unique moments that will never be forgotten (looking at you Jordan Spieth).

With The Open teeing off less than a week from now, we wanted to highlight some of The Open Championship’s finest links courses that should play when you make the journey to golf’s homeland:

Old Course at St. Andrews 

Do we even need to say anything else? The “Home of Golf”, host of 30 Open Championships, the most coveted tee time in the WORLD, there are a million reasons to have St. Andrews on your links golf bucket list. From the double greens, to the tee shot over the Old Course Hotel, to the walk up 18th fairway with the town buildings framing a picturesque scene (especially at dusk), every golfer should make the voyage to St Andrews at least once in their life.

Carnoustie 

Carnoustie – Championship Course

Roughly 25 miles north of St. Andrews lies the devious links of Carnoustie, often recognized by the large white Carnoustie Golf Hotel as the backdrop of the 18th green. While the course has only hosted The Open 8 times, it is considered to be one of the hardest layouts in The Open rota (just ask Jean Van de Velde) although not that long, playing just under 7000 yards from the tips. 

Muirfield 

Located right next to this week’s host of Scottish Open (The Renaissance Club), this fantastic links layout has hosted the prestigious Championship 16 times since 1892. The narrow fairways and penal rough requires precise shots off the tee while avoiding the devious pot bunkers is a must. The course is set away from the coastline so you won’t get the sweeping ocean views, but a round at Muirfield is one the premier tee times in all of Scotland (so make sure you book early – 12-18 months at least).

Royal Portrush 

A view of the new 572 yards par 5, seventh hole designed by Martin Ebert on the Dunluce Course at Royal Portrush Golf Club the host club for the 2019 Open Championship in Portrush, Northern Ireland. © 2018 Rob Durston

Our next stop brings us across the Irish Sea to the northern coast of Northern Ireland and the popular Royal Portrush. Having hosted The Open only twice in its illustrious history, Royal Portrush is a golfer’s dream with 36 holes of pure links golf set against a gorgeous backdrop of the ocean and cliffs. The Open Championship will return to Portrush in 2025 and YOU CAN BE THERE to watch it all in person! 

Royal Troon 

TROON – JULY 26: General view of the ‘Postage Stamp’ par 3, 8th hole taken during a photoshoot held on July 26, 2003 at the Royal Troon Golf Club, venue for the 2004 Open Championships, in Troon, Scotland. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

The host of this year’s Open Championship, Royal Troon is home to one of the best par-3 holes in all of golf, “The Postage Stamp.” A downhill 125-yard tee shot to a minuscule green surrounded by bunkers on all sides makes it one of the more challenging holes. Another hole that adds to the challenge is the 601-yard par 5 that used to be the longest golf hole in Open Championship history. This year will be the 10th Open Championship held at Royal Troon, the first since 2016 when Mickelson and Stenson had a battle for the ages in the final round.

Royal Birkdale 

For the next course on the list, we have to head down to the northwest coast of England just outside of Liverpool. Consistently ranked in the Top 10 courses in all the UK, this 10-time host of The Open has hosted many other prestigious events such as Ryder Cups, Women’s Opens, and more! The course is laid out with fairways running through flat-bottomed valleys surrounded by high dunes which provide many blind shots throughout the course. The Open returns to Royal Birkdale in 2026 so it won’t be long before it is back in the spotlight.

Royal St. George’s 

For the final course on our list, we are staying in England, but heading across to the southeastern side of the country to Kent. Royal St. George’s is 4th on the list of most Open Championships hosted with 15 (1 behind Muirfield) the most recent being Collin Morikawa’s victory in 2021. RSG is the only active course on The Open rota in this part of the UK, but two former hosts (Prince’s and Royal Cinque Ports) are within 3 miles of the property. The expansive course is laid out with holes separated by dunes with heavy rough, undulating fairways, and deep pot bunkers to challenge your game. While it may not be mentioned in the discussions of St. Andrews, Carnoustie, and the like, Royal St. George’s is still a Championship layout that is worth the trip across the pond.


With these big-name courses in such high demand, it is important to note that if you want to play them, you need to start planning your trip early. Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR, the world’s #1 rated golf tour operator, suggests planning and booking your trip at least 12-18 months in advance in order to secure a tee time at the courses you want. The UK & Ireland specialists at Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR have the knowledge to help tailor the perfect golf trip for your group so you can play big-name courses and hidden gems you might not have heard of. If you’re ready to start planning your bucket list trip across the pond, make life easier and go with Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR.

Editor’s note: This article is presented in partnership with Golfbreaks. When you make a purchase through links in this article, GolfWRX may earn an affiliate commission.

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Courses

Ryder Cup 2025: Crossing to Bethpage – New York State Park golf, Part 1

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The 2025 Ryder Cup matches will be held over the sprawling, bruising, Long Island acreage known as Bethpage Black State Park Golf Course. The course has hosted multiple national championships, most recently the 2019 PGA Championship. In September 2025, Bethpage Black will welcome teams from the USA and Europe to contest the 45th Ryder Cup matches. Team Europe, the defending champions, will be led again by captain Luke Donald. The U.S. PGA has not yet announced the name of its leader, yet all sources and speculations point to a 15-time major champion and an eight-time participant in the biennial event.

Bethpage Black will join Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester (1995) as the second Empire State course to host the event. The Ryder Cup matches were played in the metropolitan New York area once before, in 1935 at the Ridgewood Club, in Paramus, New Jersey. It’s fair to say that metro NYC is due to host this world-stage, golf event. I can’t wait. The USA’s loss to Europe in 2023 adds to the considerable drama.

What makes Bethpage Black an outlier in the world of championship golf, is its mere existence. It’s a state park golf course, one of five on property, each with a colorful name. The Red, Green, Blue, and Yellow join big brother Black as outstanding tests of golf in Farmingdale. Of the five, only the Green was not originally built as a state course. The Lenox Hills Country Club, designed by Devereux Emmet, opened in 1923. By 1932, the club had closed and the land had become property of the state. Its birth date made the Green the oldest of the five courses. New York State began to build on a series of adjacent parcels, guided by the hands of Alber “A.W.” Tillinghast, Joseph Burbeck, and Alfred Tull. The Yellow course, built entirely by Tull, was the last of the five to open.

State park courses just don’t hold major championships. Private clubs and elite resorts are the typical sites that receive the nod from the world’s golf bodies. It’s a testament to the lovers of Bethpage, the New York state government, and the PGA of America (among others) that Bethpage is as good as it is, and that it continues to improve. It’s a fitting site for the 2025 Ryder Cup matches, but the 2025 Ryder Cup matches need a beginning to their story. I’ll do my best to provide it.

The quintet of courses near Bethpage, New York, is just the beginning of the New York state park golf course system. 19 parks in total offer golf from the tip of Long Island, to the shores of Lake Ontario, through the Catskill mountains, to my home town. I’m a Western New York guy. The Buffalo area has been my home for most of my 58 years on the golf ball known as Earth. I live two miles from the westernmost, state park golf course: Beaver Island. The Beav, as everyone calls it, was designed by William Harries. It opened the year I was born, which means that it is close to 60 years old! Unlike the Bethpage property, where topography is king, the Beav is a flat course, albeit full of enough interest to bring you back for more.

As I considered the magnitude of the state park system, I realized that golfers who frequent those 19 state parks can point to their home course and say, “You know, the Ryder Cup will be at a state park course next year.” I started to count on my fingers, the number of state park courses I had played: Beaver Island, Green Lakes (Syracuse), James Baird (Poughkeepsie), and the five at Bethpage, I realized that I had played eight of the 23 total courses, and had visited a mere four of the 19 parks.

Bethpage is the only, multi-course state park across the Empire State. Other venues range from pitch-and-putt, to nine-hole, to regulation 18-hole courses. The majority occupy nice tracts of land, and feature 18 holes of memorable, enjoyable golf. PGA Tour professionals Joey Sindelar and Mike Hulbert grew up on one of those courses, and Dottie Pepper spent a bit of time on another, near her hometown.

There will be many stories that trace the path to Bethpage and its 2025 Ryder Cup, and I look forward to reading and hearing them. This one is my own, and I’m proud (and a little frightened) to undertake it. I’ll visit each of the remaining parks over the next 16 months, and report in with images and words that tell the story of each park and its golf course.

The Ones I’ve Played

The Bethpage Five

As mentioned above, I’ve played eight of the 23 courses, but the majority of that number is owed to a 2011 pilgrimage to Long Island. The Black had just hosted its second US Open championship, and the ink for the 2019 PGA Championship was not yet printed. I spoke with a Bethpage caddy, in anticipation of the trek. I wrote a series of articles on the courses on my own site, BuffaloGolfer. Down the road of this, current series, I’ll discuss the most poignant piece that I connected with Bethpage. That’s a story for another time. After all, Bethpage is a five-course meal.

It’s safe to say the the Bethpage property is unlike any other, municipal, golfing space in the world (at least, those not named the Links Trust of St. Andrews!) The park encompasses nearly 1500 acres of wooded land and offers much beyond golf to its visitors. As pilgrimages go, Bethpage is it. For a New York state resident, on a weekend, it would cost a total of $257 dollars … to play all five courses. Even for those outside the state, the trip to Bethpage is worth consideration. Each course rambles over uneven, heaving land. Holes carry along falloffs and bend unexpectedly around corners. Greens are benched into hillsides and settled into valleys. All five courses remind you of the others, yet none of them says to you “You’ve played this course before.”

James Baird State Park 

One of the hats that I wear, is high school golf coach. Each spring, golfers from my team travel to Poughkeepsie to play the James Baird State Park golf course. Pronounced “Bard,” the course was opened in 1948, after a middle-aged, Robert Trent Jones, senior, put pen to paper to lay out the course. Jones was about to become a household name, as he would offer renovation advice to many of the country’s classic clubs. He was most famously associated with the Oakland Hills Country Club near Detroit, the host site of the 1951 US Open. You know, the one where Ben Hogan purportedly gasped “I’m glad I brought this course, this monster, to its knees.”

Trent didn’t leave a monster in Poughkeepsie. What he left was something that locals call Baby Bethpage. The James Baird course is blessed with topography similar to its five-course cousin, but it offered a challenge that Bethpage does not: a huge expanse of marsh across the belly of the property. There was not going over nor through it, so Jones simply went around it. He created something that he never, ever did: a short par three. Jones was a fan of the brutish, 200-yard plus, all-carry, par three hole. For the third hole at Baird, he had all of 120 yards, and it was downhill! Jones placed a green in the marsh, connected to the mainland by an earthen bridge. He then turned north for a time, then returned south, outside the marsh. Trent Jones had another stretch of tricky land to navigate, this time, on the inward half. He brought a trio of holes (pars 4-3-5) through a challenging corner of the property, before returning to the open meadow that hosts the majority of the layout.

James Baird is a tremendous golf course, one that prepares our high school competitors well for the next step: the state federation championship at, you guessed it, Bethpage Black. Six golfers move on to compete against other, high school divisions, at the big brother of them all.

Green Lakes

The Baird course came to life 13 years after Trent Jones opened his first, New York state parks course. Originally from Rochester, New York, Trent ventured 90 minutes east to Manlius, near Syracuse, in 1935, to lay out one of his first ten courses. RTJ was gifted the magnificent land that abuts the two glacial lakes in central New York. The lakes are meromictic, which we all know means that surface and bottom waters do not mix in the fall and spring, as happens with dimictic lakes.

Trent Jones placed his clubhouse and finishing greens (9 and 18) in an interesting portion of the property. The ninth hole is an uphill, par five that plays fifty yards longer than its measured distance. Once home to upper and lower greens, the lower has been expanded and enhanced, and the upper is now abandoned. On the other side of the clubhouse, the sneaky 18th moves out of a corridor of trees, into the open space beneath the clubhouse. It’s a bit reminiscent of the 18th at Bethpage’s Green course. It’s not a long hole, yet when you walk off with five or six on your card, you wonder where you went astray.

The front half of the course plays along a vast meadow, above Green Lake, the larger of the two, nautical bodies. The inward side forages among the tree above Round Lake, before finally emerging at the home hole. The apparent contrariety of the two nines is resolved through expansion of fairway corridors on the treed nine, and the constriction of playing paths with bunkers and doglegs, on the exposed side.

If you’re a walker, Green Lakes will make you a fit one. It will also demand all the clubs and shots that you can fit in your bag.

Beaver Island

“Tame” isn’t the proper term to describe Beaver Island, the state park course near my home. I believe that “calm” is a better term. It may seem ironic, given that the 1965 course occupies a tract of land at the southern tip of Grand Island, where the Niagara River splits east and west, before reuniting at the north end. When we think of the Niagara, we think of the mighty rapids and cascades near the brink and bottom of the falls. At the southern split of the river, however, you can throw a canoe in the water and have a paddle. Beaver Island knows that it is adjacent to the river, but you never get the sense that this golf course borders water. I’ve redesigned the park hundreds of times in my head, moving the golf course to the banks of the river, where the trails, beach, playground, and other amenities are currently found. In the end, not every great golf course can, nor should, be built.

William Harries trained under the famed competitor and architect, Walter Travis. Despite this exposure to the master, Harries went his own way with his golf courses. The most striking difference is in green construction. While Travis was extraordinarily creative and daring, Harries was the polar opposite. His greens are routinely flat and easy to navigate.

He designed a number in the western New York area, including Brookfield Country Club. Originally known as Meadow Brook, the club hosted the 1948 Western Open, won by the aforementioned, Ben Hogan. The majority of Harries’ work was in municipal courses, and he designed Sheridan Park for the town of Tonawanda. That course hosted the 1962 USGA Public Links championship.

On Grand Island, Harries traced his layout around three ponds. The massive, western one, comes into play on the second through fifth holes. The middle one plays games with the approach to the eighth green. The final one, on the inward side, forces golfers to carry their tee shot over water, to the 14th fairway. Beaver Island bears no resemblance to the topography of the other locales mentioned previously. There is no heaving, no tumbling, no turbulence, along its fairways. Beaver Island is more St. Andrews in its flattish presentation, which makes it an honest, what-you-see, sort of golf course. It’s an enjoyable walk in the park, a not-too-demanding one.

Part Two: south-central New York-Soaring Eagles, Chenango Valley, Indian Hills, and Bonavista

https://www.rydercup.com/ PGA of America Ryder Cup Trophy

Ryder Cup Trophy @ Bethpage – Photo courtesy of PGA of America

 

 

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19th Hole

Vincenzi’s 2024 Travelers Championship betting preview: Patrick Cantlay to continue impressive play

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The third major championship of 2024 did not disappoint as Bryson Dechambeau capped off a sensational week with the second U.S. Open victory of his career. The season rolls along to Cromwell, Connecticut, where TPC River Highlands hosts the 2024 Travelers Championship. This is yet another designated event with a $20 million dollar purse.

TPC River Highlands is a 6,841-yard par-70 that has been a PGA Tour stop for 40 years. Home of the only 58 in Tour history, it is possible to go extremely low at this Pete Dye design. However, TPC River Highlands does feature a difficult closing stretch with holes 16-18 all historically averaging scores over par.

The Travelers Championship will play host to 72 golfers this week. Being a signature event, almost all of the best players on Tour will be teeing it up. 

PGA Tour U winner, Michael Thorbjornsen, will be making his season debut this week at the Travelers. 

Past Winners at The Travelers Championship

  • 2023: Keegan Bradley (-23)
  • 2022: Xander Schauffele (-19)
  • 2021: Harris English (-13)
  • 2020: Dustin Johnson (-19)
  • 2019: Chez Reavie (-17)
  • 2018: Bubba Watson (-17)
  • 2017: Jordan Spieth (-12)
  • 2016: Russell Knox (-14)

Key Stats For TPC River Highlands

Let’s take a look at five key metrics for TPC River Highlands to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds.

1. Strokes Gained: Approach

Strokes Gained: Approach sits at the top spot in the stat model this week. The course is relatively short, and golfers with multiple types of skill sets compete here. Iron play is often the great equalizer allowing the shorter hitters to compete, and that should be the case again this week.

SG: Approach Over Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+1.61)
  2. Corey Conners (+1.11)
  3. Sepp Straka (+0.92)
  4. Xander Schauffele (+0.91)
  5. Tony Finau (+0.88)

2. Par 4 Birdie or Better %

With only two par-5s on the course, the importance of par-4 scoring cannot be understated. Whoever plays the par-4s most effectively this week will put himself in the driver’s seat.

Par 4 Birdie or Better % Over Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Eric Cole (25.4%)
  2. Scottie Scheffler (+24.6%)
  3. Patrick Cantlay (+23.5%)
  4. Rory McIlroy (+22.8%)
  5. Wyndham Clark (+22.7%)

3. Strokes Gained: Ball Striking

Ball striking combines off the tee and approach and will be the stat I use to incorporate off-the-tee play this week. The over-emphasis on approach play will incorporate golfers who give themselves plenty of birdie looks in the event.

SG: Ball Striking past 24 rounds:

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+2.56)
  2. Ludvig Aberg (+1.67)
  3. Xander Schauffele (+1.57)
  4. Rory McIlroy (+1.44)
  5. Corey Conners (+1.31)

4. Course History

Course history has proven to be a major factor at TPC River Highlands. With seven golfers who have multiple wins at the course, familiarity could be the key at the Travelers Championship.

Strokes Gained: Total at TPC River Highlands per round over Past 36 Rounds:

  1. Xander Schauffele (+2.03)
  2. Patrick Cantlay (+2.02)
  3. Brian Harman (+1.98)
  4. Rory McIlroy (+1.97)
  5. Scottie Scheffler (+1.54)

5. Strokes Gained: Total Pete Dye Designs

TPC River Highlands is another prototypical Pete Dye track where many of the same golfers play well consistently.

SG: Pete Dye per round Over Past 36 Rounds:

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+2.49)
  2. Xander Schauffele (+2.22)
  3. Ludvig Aberg (+1.86)
  4. Brian Harman (+1.66)
  5. Patrick Cantlay (+1.61)

6. Strokes Gained: Putting on Bent/POA Mix

TPC River Highlands is another prototypical Pete Dye track where many of the same golfers play well consistently.

Strokes Gained: Putting on Bent/POA Mix Over Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Denny McCarthy (+1.41)
  2. Xander Schauffele (+1.04)
  3. Keegan Bradley (+1.01)
  4. Robert MacIntyre (+0.98)
  5. Wyndham Clark (+0.84)

The Travelers Championship Model Rankings

Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed — SG: Approach (26%), Par 4 Birdie or Better % (13%), SG: Ball Striking (20%), Course History (13%), SG: Putting Bent/POA (14%) and SG: Pete Dye (14%).

  1. Xander Schauffele
  2. Rory McIlroy
  3. Scottie Scheffler 
  4. Viktor Hovland
  5. Corey Conners
  6. Sahith Theegala
  7. Brian Harman
  8. Keegan Bradley
  9. Collin Morikawa
  10. Tony Finau

2024 Travelers Championship Picks

Patrick Cantlay +2500 (FanDuel)

When a player contends in a major in the previous week, I typically like to fade said player the following week. However, this week feels a bit different to me. Cantlay has been struggling all season, and I can’t help but feel like the former FedEx Cup champion found something during the U.S. Open. I also don’t think he was incredibly disappointed with the result. He played well on Sunday and was impressive over the weekend, finally getting a true feel of what major championship contention felt like. It was all positives for Cantlay at Pinehurst.

Cantlay will now head to a spot where he’s had an incredible amount of success but has not yet notched a victory. In his last six starts at the course, he’s not finished worse than 15th. His best start came last year, where he finished T4. He ranks 1st in the field in Strokes Gained: Total at TPC River Highlands. Cantlay is also a Pete Dye specialist and ranks 4th in the field in Strokes Gained: Total on Dye tracks. The 32-year-old ranks 3rd in Par 4 birdie or better percentage.

Cantlay was spectacular across the board at Pinehurst. For the week, he ranked 3rd in Strokes Gained: Approach, 7th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking and 10th in Strokes Gained: Putting. I fully expect him to build off of that performance and contend once again at one of his favorite Tour stops.

Sam Burns +3500 (DraftKings)

Sam Burns had a great Sunday at Pinehurst, which is always a bonus heading into the following week. He shot -3 in his final round, which got him into the top ten (T9) in what was a successful major for a player who’s not performed his best in them historically.

Burns is a prolific birdie maker who can win a boat race to -20 as well as anyone on Tour. He’s also had some success at both Pete Dye courses, where he ranks 13th in Strokes Gained: Total over his past 36 rounds, and at TPC River Highlands, where he ranks 12th in Strokes Gained: Total over his past 36 rounds.

Burns has been playing some solid golf of late. He has four top-15 finishes in his past starts including a T13 at the Wells Fargo Championship, 10th at the RBC Canadian Open and 15th at the Memorial Tournament. He has gained strokes on approach and off the tee in five of his past six starts.

The LSU product can win golf tournaments in a variety of ways. His ability to make putts if it turns into a wedge and putting contest makes him a strong candidate to contend this week.

Sahith Theegala +4500 (BetRivers)

Sahith Theegala has been playing some solid golf over the last few months. As we saw last year with Keegan Bradley, a missed cut at the U.S. Open shouldn’t necessarily scare someone off from a player who fits TPC River Highlands, which I believe Theegala does.

TPC River Highlands is the site of Theegala’s near victory a few years back. He finished in a tie for 2nd in 2022 after making double-bogey on the 18th hole with a one-shot lead, losing to Xander Schauffele. Theegala will now head back to the course as a more mature player who is in the midst of the best season of his career.

This season, the former Haskins award winner in having strong finishes in some of the season’s most important events. He finished 5th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, 6th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, 9th at the PLAYERS Championship, 2nd at the RBC Heritage and 12th at both the Memorial Tournament and PGA Championship.

In his past 24 rounds, Sahith ranks 12th in Strokes Gained: Approach, 11th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking, 18th in Par 4 birdie or better percentage and 8th in Strokes Gained: Putting on Bent/POA mixed putting surfaces.

If this turns into another shootout, Theegala has the type of ball striking and putting combination that can win a race to -20.

Sungjae Im +6600 (BetRivers)

After seemingly regaining his form over the past month, Sungjae took a step back at last week’s U.S. Open. The South Korean missed the cut, shooting +10 over his first two rounds. Despite the disappointing result, I don’t believe one poor start at a long and difficult golf course is enough reason to give up on him. 

Although the score was regretful at Pinehurst No. 2, Im hit the ball pretty well from tee to green. In his two rounds, he gained strokes both off the tee and on approach. His downfall was with the putter, which can be extremely hit or miss, especially over the course of this season.

Prior to the U.S. Open, Sungjae had finished in the top ten in three of his previous four starts. He finished T4 at the Wells Fargo “Signature Event” at Quail Hollow, T9 at the Charles Schwab Challenge and T8 at The Memorial Tournament. He’s also gained strokes off the tee in nine straight events.

Im has made three starts at TPC River Highlands, finishing 21st, 58th and 29th respectively. Im hits fairways at a high clip, which will be a massive advantage this week and his lack of driving distance won’t be an issue. He also ranks 12th in the field in his past 24 rounds in Strokes Gained: Total on Pete Dye designs.

It’s been a long time since Im has won an event (2021 Shriners), but I believe he’s back on the upswing and is still a higher end talent on the PGA Tour with another win coming soon.

Tom Kim +6600 (BetRivers)

After a sluggish start to the 2024 season, Tom Kim has come on strong over the past month or so. The South Korean started his stretch of impressive play at Valhalla for the PGA Championship, finishing 24th. After that, Kim put together finishes of T4 at the RBC Canadian Open and a T26 at last week’s U.S. Open. In between, he finished T43 at The Memorial, but hit the ball great from tee to green.

Tom has done an impressive job of playing well at long and difficult setups, but this week, he will head to a course in TPC River Highlands that should his game immaculately. Both of Kim’s wins have come at short setups that mitigate his biggest weakness, which is driving distance. The course is short this week and fits the mold of the tracks Tom has had great success at over the past few seasons on Tour.

In his past 24 rounds, Kim ranks 7th in Par 4 birdie or better percentage, which will come into play this week. He also ranks 19th in the field in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking.

Kim is already a three-time winner on the PGA Tour and has shown that if he gets a sniff of contention, he can close out a tournament with the best of them.

 

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