Golf: Inside the rule book (Thursday, July 4)

For the Idaho StatesmanJuly 4, 2013 

TIRED OF SLOW PLAY? FOCUS ON PACE OF PLAY

Pace of play is a front-burner issue for the USGA, LPGA, PGA of America and Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. You probably noticed the "While We're Young" ad campaign during the U.S. Open.

The USGA's Research and Test Center is working to identify and study the factors that contribute to slow play and long rounds. In the past, player behavior has been addressed as the only issue causing 5-hour rounds.

We are learning that is not always the case. Contributing factors include course length, starting time intervals, green speeds, rough height and course design (hazards and other obstacles).

One of the first facilities in the Boise area to take action in regards to pace of play was Shadow Valley Golf Course, which recognized player behavior was a key factor affecting pace of play, but not the only factor.

They were aware that faster rounds meant higher golfer satisfaction and more possible rounds per day. They also recognized the value of the course extending starting intervals. If a course consistently has a backup of play on the first par-3 hole, the time interval between groups starting their rounds is too short.

In regards to player behavior, when asked to speed up, golfers may not know how to do so in an efficient manner.

Strategies include:

• Don't hesitate to play forward tees.

• Plan your next stroke (distance, club selection, direction, trajectory) while walking to your ball or while waiting for others to play.

• Only take one practice swing.

• Limit yourself to one swing thought, then pull the trigger and make your swing.

• Walk briskly between shots.

• Place your bag on the side of the putting green nearest to the next teeing ground.

• If you are a new golfer, play a scramble format with the others in your group.

Genger Fahleson is the executive director of the Idaho Golf Association and a former director of rules education for the U.S. Golf Association. Each month, she'll write about a hot topic in golf.

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