It has happened, slow play has become a real issue in the eyes of the governing bodies of golf.
Considered by many club golfers as the worst aspect of golf, slow play has finally been challenged head on with the new edition of the Rules of Golf.
No longer can you search for a ball for a painstaking 5 minutes, whilst you hold up the entire course behind you.
No longer is “honour” the be all and end all of playing golf and finally it seems that the professional tours are also taking stock of the situation and penalising the worst of culprits of the disease that has burrowed its way into the wonderful world of golf.
Now you may think that with the reduction in the time you are permitted to search for a ball and the inclusion of “ready golf” the issue of slow play will be sternly challenged, but I do not for one second believe that these measures within the rules of the game will make the slightest bit of difference.
Why am I so sceptical?
To be honest, the courses themselves and the players are at fault, not the rules. If you search for 5 minutes but ensure to call the following group through there should be no issues. If you lose a hole, and the group behind are faster than you call them through.
But it doesn´t happen, or certainly not often enough.
As with many aspects of life, if the consequence of unacceptable actions is not “strict” enough then people will continue to flout the rules that are in place.
So to put an example forward;
Working in an area with many tourist golfers, and plenty of courses (35 within an hour drive) on offer, the plague of slow play is paramount.
All of the courses in the area are predominantly “pay and play” courses with a small membership base.
The average round time, during the high season is 5 hours 20 minutes, and this can increase to over 6 hours (in four balls) if there is a local organisation with a tournament taking place.
OK the main culprits are the players, but each course has a team of marshals patrolling the course, with the sole purpose of speeding up play, but they do very little to actually impose the regulations.
A polite request to speed up is generally ignored by the group at fault, regardless of the numerous times they are asked.
What needs to be done, both at amateur level and the professional level is players must be penalised, and if needed at the amateur level removed from the courses.
In a tourist region if a group was removed from the course, in accordance with speed of play rules for the course, the word would travel like wildfire, prompting a decrease in the time it takes to play 18 holes, in the entire region.
Being on holiday is no excuse for slow play.
Speed up for the enjoyment of everyone!!