You used to be able to shoot a round of golf in a few hours. Now a round of golf drags on longer than a weekend with your relatives. You play the first hole and then you wait. Finally, you tee off and then you wait. You go to your tee shot and wait until they are off the green. Slow play has never been worse. Let’s all learn to recognize and avoid these slow play sources:
Playing “The Blues”
Too many golfers overestimate their ability and “play the blues.” You shouldn’t play the blue tees unless you have a 10 handicap or better. The handicap of most people “playing the blues” is their swing.
Don’t spend 20 minutes looking for a lost ball. These thrifty golfers organize a safari with tents and camping gear and push further and further into the underbrush. One of the adventurers cries out, “Eureka, we’ve found it, I see a Titleist at the bottom of that ravine!”
Hey, it’s just a golf ball! It’s lost- you can buy another one. Don’t worry about the ball. Some twelve year kid will find it and sell it back to you from his used ball store set up between holes on the front nine. Don’t let his skateboard throw you off. This kid is the Bill Gates of used ball sales. I know one kid who made $20,000 in one summer selling used golf balls! By August he had set up a drive-thru for golf carts. It looked like a mini-McDonald’s. He repeats your order into a little speaker: “Your order is 6 Top-Flites and 6 Molitor X-outs. Please pay at the first window.”
Another person sending golf back to the ice age is the golfer that needs to know the exact yardage. “Is the pin at the front of the green or the back? What does the yardage on that drain say? Let me check my course guide- it says it is 183 yards from this eucalyptus tree.” After tearing up some grass and throwing it in the air they say, “Looks like about a half club breeze.”
One source of slow play are weekend Tigers who evaluate a putt from every direction. First they stand behind the ball and plumb-bob their putter as if they are surveying new road construction. They don’t feel confident until they consult a U.S. Corps of Engineers topographic map they have spread out on a Black and Decker Workmate set up on the green. Then they take a soil sample to determine moisture content and grass variety. By this time you’ve sat in the fairway so long you are getting hungry so you build a fire and roast hot dogs.
Golf Course Management
I don’t find many course marshals that do anything to deter slow play. One marshal told me, “There’s really nothing we can do. Even if we let people play through it doesn’t help.” Maybe he would be more effective if he wasn’t sneaking into the trees for a shot of Jack Daniels. He isn’t helping when he yells at a foursome for having eight players on the fairway because he’s seeing double.
Many golf courses don’t get it at all. I saw one course that had a sign near a water hole that said “No Fishing!” So far I haven’t had to wait because the foursome in front of me was fishing. Hey, not a bad idea- “Martha, I shot 175 again, but look at this mackerel! I hooked him with some ham on the end of a sharpened golf tee.”