|A small fleet of golf carts. (Kinmartin)|
(Read How Pebble Beach Is Improving Pace of Play)
In many cases, I think slow play is ridiculous. Five or more hours to play a round of golf seem excessive. I don’t play much anymore—and I do love the game—but if it takes that long to get around, is it any wonder that people will find other things to do? I have zero desire to play five- or six-hour rounds (unless it’s Pebble, of course). I’d walk away, too. Yes, there are a lot of other sports and entertainment options and people do have short attention spans. But hasn’t the game also hurt itself immensely by evolving into a slow-play culture?
As I played at the three Pebble Beach-area courses, I was reminded of some aspects of the modern game that can slow it to a snail’s pace.
For instance, do I really need to know exact yardages? Is about 150 yards good enough, or do I need to know it’s 147 or 153? How long, and from how many angles, do I need to look at a putt? Do carts speed up the game, or does cart-path golf actually slow things down? Golfers of all skill levels used to walk and get around in four hours.
There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about what can be done to draw more people to the game. Some of the ideas are radical. I’d hate to see the game cannibalized in some respects—12-hole courses, six-hole rounds and such. I wonder what if people just played at what used to be a normal rate—two hours (or less) for nine holes and four hours (or less) for 18? Is two hours too long for a recreational activity?
If that’s too long for some people, then perhaps golf isn’t for them. I’d rather take that approach then try to turn this great game into something that’s palatable for a wider group of people—in essence, giving in to a popular culture of short attention spans and instant gratification.
In his first column for GolfChannel.com, Arnold Palmer outlined some of his concerns about the game, which included slow play:
Slow play is turning time-starved people away from the sport. We need to encourage nine-hole rounds.I think nine-hole rounds are a great idea. But, again, what if 18-hole rounds could be played in four hours (or less)? Do you remember those days?
They weren’t really that long ago.