There was a recent article by Golf Digest titled "The Real Cause of Slow Play Isn't What You Think". Although it's title would make you think they have figured it out, it may not be so true.
Ok, so maybe I am a lucky golfer when it comes to slow play and that may be why I have a different opinion on the matter. See the thing is I have not played a round of golf over four and a half hours in seven years and that was on a professional mini-tour. We will leave the name of the tour and reasons out of this, but we will just say it was bad management on the tours part and not the players faults.
I play golf two to three times a week. Some private clubs, some resort, and some public courses. The reasons I see that are being called "slow play" are more noticeable at public courses, but have no relation to what every organization and golf magazine want to dub as slow play. The truth to what really slows most golfers down is that most have no desire to take lessons anymore due to certain television networks and the internet. They all want to fix their game themselves if at all. Bad shots leads to more shots which leads to more time. If we could convince more golfers to take lessons and improve their games we could see a decrease in the time it takes to play golf.
What if I was to tell you that is still not the issue? Would you believe me? Probably not. It is a growing issue at more private and public courses than at resorts. The real issue regarding slow play is really just the opposite. The real issue has become all the golfing authorities pushing that there is a issue with slow play. The real issue has to do with the perception of what slow is.
Here is the real issue - Golfer Have Become in to much of a Hurry!
There it is, there is the real culprit. Golfers are in to much of a hurry these days. It is something I have seen more and more over the years at clubs I have worked at and course I have played. Would you believe that most golfers now would consider a four hour round as slow? Why? Because they are in a hurry.
I have played rounds of golf with people at various courses along the Gulf Coast and have seen people complain that their round is taking too long even though the finish in under four hours. This is crazy right? Well what happens is the perception the human mind creates when two things happen on a golf course. The first time a golfer has to wait to hit a shot or when/if they notice there is no group in front of the group directly in front of them. This is regardless of how long they have been out there or how things are moving along.
A great example of this is a round I played the other day at The Oaks Golf Club in Pass Christian, MS. When we tees off there was no group in front of us. It wasn't until the third hole we caught up to a group. Immediately one of my playing partners stated "great this is going to take all day now" The remainder of the day we waited on every tee for that group ahead to clear before we could hit our shots. I was in no hurry, had no where to go, and it was a beautiful day. I continued to play well while my playing partner did not as he couldn't stand waiting. The point however is his perception that it was going to be slow. When we finished I asked him how long do you think we were playing? His response was five hours. I felt we were not out there any longer than four hours. The real time it took us to play, as a foursome behind another foursome, was three hours and forty-five minutes.
So there you have it. One golfers perception of how long a round took compared to another golfers. This has happened more and more over the years. Golfers want to get to a course go straight to the tee, play and be gone in 3 hours. Golf, unless playing on a professional tour, is recreational sport meant to be enjoyed. If you do not have at least six hours in your day to devote to a round of golf then perhaps one shouldn't play. When I say six hours I am talking about drive time, range/warm up, and four to four and a half hours for golf.
So now that you have a different look at what slow play really is, what can we do about it? The real and honest answer to that is....Nothing. We can't make golfers relax, enjoy themselves, and not be in such a hurry. Maybe this article however will be a start to have golfers look at things a bit different.
Next time you are on a golf course pay attention to what is actually going on and how others perceive it to be happening. You will be amazed to see how golfers are in a hurry when they really have no reason to be.
Now I also know this will not be the case everywhere and some courses have a real issue with five hour plus rounds of golf. However what is the problem with being on a golf course for five hours? Perhaps those golfers that don't want to be outside on a golf course would rather be stuck in a office cubicle or any place besides enjoying the beauty of nature, relaxing and enjoying the game.