Many people feel that the slow play of golf is becoming more and more frustrating to the players. Having to wait behind other golfers for them to complete their shots is growing tiresome and some feel that it is impacting the popularity of the sport from existing players and in the lack of the attraction of new players.
While the sport remains one of the most popular in the world, there is a sense that players are leaving the sport or playing less because of the enormous time investment required to complete a round of golf. Many blame the slow pace of the game and the lengthy waiting times on the course. In both amateur and professional play, some golfers are investing an inordinate amount of time in shot set ups and preparation while in the middle of a round. There is even some noise from the viewership of the sport stating that watching it has become boring.
The PGA has heeded these murmurings and is now attempting to take some action to deal with it. Recently, they have launched a PR campaign to increase the perception of excitement around the game which is entitled the “While We’re Young” campaign and is geared to accelerating the pace of the game. They have created an overall initiative around this dilemma and are investigating the issue based on five separate elements: analysis of key factors such as course design, management and set up; research to produce pace-of-play modeling that will endeavour to create a standard for both recreational and competitive play; pace rating system that will be assigned to individual courses; on-site assistance which will create programs to help educate course managers on strategies to improve pace; and player education programs that will communicate to players ideas on improving pace.
Already, in the Majors, two players have been penalized strokes for slow play which is an excellent indicator that the sport is taking this initiative seriously. The subject has been more prevalent in discussions in forums and on social media and it seems to be gathering some traction.
While there does not seem to be an immense backlash from the pros, there has been some speculation that the responsibility could be attributed to modern golf balls. It is said that they don’t travel as far enough distance and are thus the primary reason the pace has slowed. There is no actual action being taken to remedy this as is known but it may be something that is investigated by golf bodies.
Other strategies are the encouragement of shorten the average round from 18 holes to a 9 hole game and the promotion of the par 3 course. Additionally, there is the Tee it Forward campaign that encourages players to play from tees that are best suited to the driving distance with research that shows that 56 percent of players have increased the pace of their game by doing so. Hopefully, all or some of these actions will help to end the slow play that has been plaguing the sport and open it up to more interested players.